Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Craggy and cranky, the perfect combination

Sheila: That's a nice greeting. Where'd you go to Charm School?

Tommy: The Russell Crowe Academy. What do you want?

Pennies From Heaven

The ice cream place from last night is called Bittersweet. It's a coffee/pastry/ice cream place and they make the ice cream daily on the premises. DeKalb between Cumberland and Carlton.

I had the chocolate. The cups are tiny but it's plenty because it's so rich and creamy.

Isn't the raspberry pretty? I've got a bunch more photos of ice cream and other stuff up at Flickr. I'm firmly rooted in the learning phase on this photography kick so advice is welcome over there.

Tasti D: $3.50
Photos on CD: $10.83
Cat Food: $8.19

Total: $22.52

While We're On the Subject

A woman made 1000 cranes and invited photographers to join her project. If you e-mailed her she'd send you one of the cranes in return for your agreement to photograph the crane somewhere and post the photo to her Flickr pool.

Having made a couple of cranes I can't imagine how long it took her. Hers are so pretty and precise, which I'm here to tell you is not as easy as it looks. And it doesn't look all that easy. It's also really interesting to check out how different photographers handle the assignment.

Go! Enjoy!

I found out about this because I follow Heather's photography. You should check her out, too.

I Don't Think We Can Date, Though

I am in love with Google Reader. Chili can take credit for the matchmaking.

I have loved blogs since I discovered them, back when you actually had to know something about programming in order to have one. I didn't know any of that so I thought it was a pipe dream. Thankfully the appropriate enablers have come along.

I used to read about people who would spend more than an hour in the morning while getting ready for work going through their daily blog check ins. They read a hundred blogs a day! They went back frequently to check on the conversations in the comments threads. I didn't even read the comments threads. How could they read so many blogs? Since most of my blog reading happened at work I was used to have to memorize URLs and type them in every day.

As a result if you didn't have an easy to remembr URL or weren't linked to in a blog with one that was easy to remember you weren't going to get my repeat business. I have a pretty good memory but it does only go so far. For the last 5 years or so my MO has been to go through blogs alphabetically. Why? Because I would go to the URL bar, type in a and see what showed up in the drop down menu then go methodically through all my a blogs, then b, then c etc. Worked fine unless I was out of the office for more than 5 days in which case the cookies got booted from the cache and I had to rebuild the whole thing from memory.

Maybe 3 years ago I finally learned about bookmarks. I'm a slow learner and I don't like new shit, OK? It makes me nervous. So I laboriously bookmarked everyone on my home computer but had to keep up the freakshow of memory on the work computer because who wants to get hit by a bus and have their employer discover 75 blogs bookmarked in her computer?

Back when it first rolled out I read about Bloglines, which was, I guess the first RSS Feed Reader for Dummies. I tried it but I don't think they'd precisely worked out the "For Dummies" part because I couldn't really get it to work right and it made reading blogs more complicated (you've heard how I go about it, doesn't seem like it could get more complicated) so I decided that RSS Feed Readers must be like blogs used to be, only for experts who clearly knew something that I did not.

OK, for anyone who doesn't know what one is, an RSS Feed Reader is a little elf inside the internet (I'm using lay terms) who runs around the web and checks on all your favorite blogs to see if they've updated. If a blog has updated the elf runs back to your subscription page on the reader and writes you a little notice with a link so you can go read the update. Sounds cool, no? I was pissed that I wasn't an expert and couldn't rent an elf. ("Rent" is just a term, it's free to get one of these things.)

In June when I was in New England Chil told me for the second or third time about her Google Reader. All the previous times I had made soothing "Hmmm" noises and changed the subject. She has an expert living in her house so she probably got him to work out the experty parts and I couldn't ask him to do that for me. But this one time we were actually face to face so I asked to see it.

She turned into Vanna White.

All of a sudden she was wearing a slinky evening dress and her nails were long and manicured and things on the computer started lighting up as she gently pressed their corners while smiling at any stupid joke that I or Pat Sajac might have made.

And you know what? It made sense. It wasn't for experts anymore! I could do it all by myself!

So now I am in love with my Google Reader. I am a little disturbed that if there's ever a bad postal-going incident at Google my entire internet life will be wiped out. They have all my blogs memorized in their reader, they bought my blog host, they even have their fingers in the place where my pictures live. If you're a disgruntled Google employee and you're feeling a need to take action please, I beg of you, think of the innocents!

Anyway, have I said that I love the Google Reader? You should all get yourselves one so you can come back here easily every day, many times a day if I'm a good doobie and I update more than once. All you do is sign in and the elf will have left you all these little reports.

For real, though, it's super easy to add "subscriptions", it's a copy and paste dealio with the URLs and the little "Add Subscription" button they have for you. Then if you're at home, you just check in with the reader. At work, same deal. At a friend's house and can't get your laptop to recognize the damn wireless internet just get on their computer and ask the elf! Foreign country internet cafe? Your blogs are all there! Awesome, huh?

The trap here is that without all the time spent hitting bookmarks, waiting for a page to load and seeing that there's no update I have time to read more blogs so I've been adding more blogs. Lots and lots of blogs. I mean, it's not me who has to go schlepping all over the internet checking for updates so what do I care, right? Now when I don't have computer access for a couple of days and come back to over 100 updates, that's a little daunting. Totally doable, though. I didn't want to cure cancer anyway, better to spend my time reading all of the internet.

The other thing I find is that it makes me less likely to go back and check the conversations in the comments thread on a blog because those don't count as elf-worthy updates. However there seems to be some features that I'm not using. (Eek! Something new! Get it off me!) Like you can star something for follow up. I'm tentatively trying that out because I really want Rick to sell me a painting so I asked him in the comments section and I have to go back to see if he replies. Also, people are chiming in with Blogher tales and I won't always be able to get through all the blogs that are linked in one sitting so this way I star the entry that's got all the linkage and next time my elf is slacking off I've got new-to-me content to read!

I figured out this one experty sort of thing that's a work around for when you enter a URL into the Add Subscription box and it doesn't work but I am not nearly expert enough to explain it. Suffice to say it allowed me to add 3 new blogs to my reader over the past 2 days and now I will never miss a House Tour, Community Brouhaha or pizza giveaway in my neighborhood again.

I could go on and on and on (even longer than I have already which is probably plenty) about my new boyfriend, GR, but lucky for you I just got a memo from my elf so I'm out of here.

10 Things I Probably Want the Answer to

They say you should never ask advice from the internet unless you're prepared for people to get judgy. Let's see if I'm prepared.

1. What's a good way to carry around a small amount of cornstarch powder? In heat like this there are, er, chafing issues that the powder is good for but it's really not discreet to be lugging a full sized bottle of the stuff to and from the bathroom down the hall at work.

2. What do you really think my goal weight should be?

3. I'm feeling as though the safest, healthiest action going forward is to replace canned wet dog food with the locally home made extremely expensive dog food. It's $11 for a container that covers about 6 meals (3 days). The company (1 woman) also makes treats. I bought 6 small ones for $3.79 (including tax) today because the dog, used to a minimum of 4 treats a day, has had 1 in the past week and I felt like a big meanie. Is this a crazy notion? Should I just chalk this illness up to a bad batch of food or find a better canned food that's cheaper? Am I overreacting?

4. What new sort of exercise should I add to my regimen?

5. For the first time ever, on my recent trip to New England, I had joint pressure and pain during the plane's descent. Any idea what that's about?

6. So, if, hypothetically, I were to decide to be more proactive about dating how would I go about that?

7. Have I really never told you guys that I'm a musical person? Both of my parents were music educators in the public school system when I was a kid. They bought me a quarter size violin when I was about 3, I had lessons with the Suzuki method. It didn't really take. I took piano lessons from pretty much my first memory up through high school and I was pretty good. Too bad I never practiced. I learned the clarinet in 4th grade and played that until I was headed into 9th grade. Took up the trombone and singing lessons in 9th grade. The trombone was to have a harder hitting instrument in the marching band, sort of making myself a big fish in a little pond since I wasn't exactly a clarinet virtuoso. The singing was a ploy to get out of piano lessons and it backfired. My lesson just got bumped up to 90 minutes and split between the 2 disciplines. Of all those things I'm probably best at singing. I'm a terrible sight reader but if you give me a pitch and make me sight read a whole song I will more than likely end on the right note, but I'll get all the ones in between wrong. I still sing (more on that soon) but I could really use some brushing up on my music theory and my technique, also my piano playing since I recently got a piano.

8. If I were to throw a party where there was Christmas caroling, would you come? Would you sing?

9. What should I wear on the red carpet? I'm thinking maybe something like that yellow number that Patricia Clarkson wore once (sorry, can't find a pic, Steph knows the one I'm talking about) but in a blue. The thing is, I really don't have a great concept of what looks good on me so suggestions are appreciated.

10. Anyone want to come to my house for poker night?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Things I Really, Truly Never Thought I'd Hear Myself Say

"Christ on a crab shell you guys are annoying tonight!"

I think that the part of my brain that is actually good with language meant to say "Christ on a clam shell" which evokes something nice, sort of a Jesus at the Mermaid Parade sort of an image.
However, that part of my brain was trumped by the part that was trying to get an actual life sustaining amount of food in the cats' bowls despite the fact that the aforementioned cats shoved their furry little noggins all the way into the bowls until their noses were smashed the second the first fume hit the air.

For Love & Chocolate

My mom was adamant when I first started babysitting that I learn the value of "doing it for love". (Get your mind out of the gutter!) It stuck, really it did, I mean I would happily take Bobby in a couple of times a month just to secure myself in his heart. I know that I complain when he drools on me but that's just for show. A couple of weeks ago I passed him with another sitter during off leash hours and he totally snubbed me. I understand that it's not cool to hang out with your parents' friends when you're on the playground but still...a little hurt.

However, sometimes someone just insists on paying you and really it would be rude to refuse, right? So I didn't.

Pony Express wanted to take me for a drink to thank me for feeding her cats this weekend. Even though I stole couscous from her fridge while I was doing it she still insisted on buying me a drink. Mmmmm, mojitos.

Of course, a funny thing happened on her way to the bar. I know, usually the truly funny stuff happens on the way out of the bar but tonight was an exception. She stopped into a coffee bar and found out that they make possibly the very best ice cream on the whole planet.

So after mojitos she insisted (again!) on buying me a small scoop of that ice cream and wow. Just wow. (Pictures to come later.)

Money count today is remarkably low...in inverse proportion to ice cream product consumption.

Tasti D Lite: $4
Dog Treats: $3.79
Tip for the ice cream guy: $1

Total: $8.79

Oh, and while we're counting:
Number of pounds lost this week: 1

Current weight: 136.5...for now.

Question That Just Popped Into My Head*

I have to admit that when I first thought of this it was a question specifically for Chrome but I think it's a good one for all of us to think about.

You know, just in case.

Let's say, hypothetically of course, that we are expected to go to something that has one of those red carpet dealios going on. Let's say, to be specific, since there are different levels of red carpet events, that it's an evening event and one at which we are each nominated for some sort of recognition.

In an ideal world, what are you wearing when you step out of the limo and onto the carpet?**


*Can you tell I've been reading these ladies a lot?

**Money, access to designers, coordinating with a significant other are, of course, no object.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Reuniony Interlude

I don't have the time or brain power to wrap everything up about the reunion but there are odds and ends that don't fit into the "Night Event" category that I can share.

First, an admission. I studied for my reunion. I made King Bee get out an old yearbook the night before so I could go through it and refresh my memory putting names to faces. After I pointed and cooed, "Oh _____, I hope s/he's there tomorrow!" and King Bee jumped up to see who I was talking about at least three times he skillfully ganked the book from me and hogged it for like an hour. Turns out he really liked my class and was kicking himself for not taking me up on my offer a month before to be my escort to the reunion. When I finally got the thing back I went through my class a couple of times trying to commit at least some of the class roster to memory.

Oh, shut it. It's not like it's a big secret that I'm a geek.

Anyway I forgot to tell you that one of my classmates has her own business helping people to live healthier through better food and better exercise. She occasionally goes into schools to talk to kids about healthier habits. She brings visual aids and among them is a Happy Meal. A Happy Meal she bought 5 years ago. She hasn't kept it in the freezer, she hasn't wrapped it in cellophane she hasn't altered it in any way and it still looks exactly the same. It doesn't even smell bad. She came up to talk to the guys who told the whale story during the day and talked about that. I cannot get that image out of my brain.

Before the daytime event I had 2 breakfast meetings. It was super Hollywood of me, I know, but I didn't plan it that way. I made a date to meet Suzanne and Chili at a place in town that Queen Bee loves at 9:30. Turns out that Queen Bee loves it so much she was meeting a friend at 9. So we carpooled and I sat with them while I waited for the girls.

I have known Suzanne since, I think, 4th grade. Maybe 5th. However, I've only laid eyes on her once, at a Boxing Day event at Chili's, in the last 20 years. So it was nice to see that nothing had really changed, still easy to talk. I know that we've revisited our friendship over the intarweb for the past few years but real life and the internet are different. Chili had warned us that she might be a little late because she was doing her first book club podcast so we got a table and chatted like we'd never left off. Chili showed up and that didn't change a thing, just made for more voices in the girly chatter. All in all an auspicious beginning to the day.

Suzanne had also set up an alternative reunion event since she wasn't attending the evening event. Given that I wanted to be sure that I wasn't the first person at the evening thing I was able to stop by the restaurant and hang out for a bit. One of our other classmates who was anti-reunion attended. During my geeky study session she'd been one of the "Oh!" people. She looks fabulous and we had a creepy 6 degrees moment. She has a part time office job in a marketing department and she's a freelance theatre technician. Stab in the dark I mentioned a friend of mine (and of the Media Guy and Miflohny) who has recently moved to the area and is doing freelance theatre work, too. They've totally met! Remember there are only 700 people in theatre so be really careful what you say to them.

Another bonus of the alternareunion was getting to sit next to Wayfarer and exchange the occasional snarky remark. Though he'd been at the beach in the afternoon there were so many people to see and he was taking charge of his chillun so Suzanne could mingle that we didn't get a chance to talk. I've only met him once before in person but have been talking to him via blog for a while now and he's been a great editor for me while I work on those short story goals. If reunion could be a 2 day event I'd have time to talk properly to everyone. (Heh, as she reads that sentence Chili's blood will run cold.)

My favorite single moment of that bit of the weekend was taking pictures. Wayfarer was trying to get a shot of we 4 classmates (The Actuary was also in attendance) and due to lighting problems we all squished into the one side of the booth where the kids, NiNi and SiSi were sitting. NiNi is 4 and I found her to be very friendly. She reached her arm around her sister and was just barely able to reach my shoulder. While her father set up the shot she kept telling us all, "Say Click! Say Click!" Cute overload.

The Actuary asked me if I wanted to carpool to the regular reunion and I was brutally honest, saying that I really needed to have my own avenue of escape, just in case. I wasn't, however, going to object to a caravaning situation since I didn't really have any idea where I was going despite having copied the directions from the web site. He totally didn't follow the directions that I showed him when we left the restaurant but we got there and got really simple parking, which is a requirement for me.

We met another classmate as we walked to the conference center. She introduced herself as S_____ and I went with the "Oh of course" face while thinking "S_____? We didn't have a S_____ in our class, did we?" This led to a rather uncomfortable silence as we continued to walk to the entrance until, on the approach ramp, The Actuary remarked on the odd shape of the building, "So that's why it looks funny on a map." and S_____'s husband explained that the center has 6 sides, one for each of the New England states. Fortunately before the uncomfortable silence grew exponentially we were in the conference room.

I'll leave it there, quite the cliffhanger, huh? While you wait feel free to pop on over here and check out what my classmates have been doing for the last 20 years. Please don't stalk them I didn't ask their permission to post that link.

Oh, and I didn't spend even one copper penny today.

Crane Wrap Up

I realize that I never told you the end of the Crane story. Oops. I might finish that one and the reunion story tonight, we'll see how motivated I am.

Anyway, some long time ago, maybe around February The Media Guy e-mailed me and asked me if, for a variety of reasons, I would decorate his and Miflohny's apartment while they were in the hospital having the Little Seal to make for a celebratory homecoming. He then went on to do that nervous talking thing, only via e-mail, where he babbled things like, "I'll print all the stuff and I'll make a banner and I'll do this and really you don't have to do..." but the message was "Please don't say no, please don't say no, please don't say no." Which I wasn't going to say anyway. I did rather forcefully refuse all his help, though. He was extremely adamant that there should be a banner and even when I explained that I was going to work it all out he kept e-mailing me about what the banner would be like until I was sort of regrettably mean in my refusal.

Now, this all sounds very easy, right? Buy one of those Congratulations or Welcome Home banners, a few balloons, a bouquet of flowers, maybe a baby gift, some chocolate, a casserole in the freezer and a bottle of champagne and whippety doo dah, no problemo you've got yourself a Welcome Happy Baby Apartment (patent pending) and time to go out for a drink to boot.

It is fine, I'm sure, for some people. I can think of at least 3 people for whom elements of that list would make the perfect homecoming decoration. Miflohny is none of them.

She doesn't drink. She adheres to a very low fat diet so the casserole and the chocolate are right out. She's a very serious recycler. Once we went to a play and she brought along some newsletters from various organizations to read on her train ride in. She finished them before the play but carried them all the way home rather than throwing them out at the theatre because they needed to be recycled. Serious is what I'm saying, so a banner would be the sort of thing that would make more work for the new mom. I could just picture her coming in and seeing a banner but also seeing just one more damn thing she'd have to clean up or seeing a bouquet of flowers and seeing a waste. I wracked my brain for environmentally sound, low fat, non-alcoholic decorative options and I solicited some suggestions and I enlisted Pony Express' help with the installation.

What I came up with was to do a bouquet of fruit, as many of the moms I spoke to extolled the virtues of natural fiber in the post partum diet, ahem. I thought about finding movie and literature quotes to put up around the house since Miflohny and I share some love for TV and whatnot. I put Pony Express in charge of coming up with an environmentally sound banner substitute. Still no basic theme, though.

Then I hit on it. Origami cranes.

Still wasted paper, though. Frak.

Origami cranes made out of old magazines!

So for the next few weeks whenever I was sitting watching TV or whatever I'd make some cranes. You know, after I searched the internet for instructions that made any blessed sense since the whole "Ooo, origami!" reaction wasn't because I actually knew how to do it. It was fun, kind of soothing and I got pretty good at it and pretty quick. I still only made about 49 cranes by D-day. Or rather B-day.

When the day came there was a flurry of text messages.

As an aside, remember what I said about MySpace? Same holds true for text messaging. I'm just not a texter, I dont get it, I don't know how to get punctuation so I can't make sentences and it wigs me out when the phone makes the text noise. Knowing this it should come as no surprise that I don't have any texts included in my phone plan, they cost me 10 cents each. So don't text me "OK" or "Thanks", it raises my heart rate and costs me money, OK? Thanks for listening I feel better having gotten that off my chest.

I went out and bought some fruit. I called Pony Express. I borrowed a car from Kath & Alex. (It really does take a village, huh?) I ran home, grabbed all my cranes and everything in my house that could possibly be pressed into service as a crane securer.

Did I mention it was raining? A lot? Yeah.

So I wrapped all that shit up in a bunch of plastic bags, hitched up the dog and walked over to K&A's. They kindly traded me a dog for a car, dude, they need to learn something about negotiation. I picked Pony Express up and we stopped for coffee, found a good parking spot and got started. Yeah, so caffeine, rain, sneaking into someone's house and doing a project for which you're not completely prepared? It's just like being back in college! There was a lot of giggling. We treated the whole event like camping, we even packed out our garbage for the full on "Elves did it!" treatment.

The quotes I'd found were from Buffy and Murphy's Romance and Shakespeare and Veronica Mars among others. Pony Express broke into my bag of securing stuff and managed to secure strings of cranes in every window and from every light fixture. We hid them in drawers, in cupboards, the fridge and the freezer, the medicine cabinet, taped to the thermostat, anywhere we could manage. The goal was to have plenty that were in plain sight and then plenty that would be discovered in the days and weeks after the homecoming. Miflohny says she's found them all but I still hold out hope that she's going to be surprised our of the blue at like Christmas or something. Some of the cranes had quotes, some stood alone, some quotes stood alone. It was super fun. Pony Express even suggested and recited from memory the guaranteed tearjerker quote. I cried just writing it down and setting it out. Go get your copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends, read through "Listen to the Mustn'ts Child" and picture it attached to a crane carefully balanced in a crib waiting for a new baby.

The reason I gave Pony Express the banner job is because, you'll pardon the expression, I knew she'd do a banner job. And she did. She did 2 in fact. The first was a tin box of magnetized child's blocks with letters on them. PE used those to spell out a message on the fridge. The other one was just beautiful. She cut out letters from a roll of glow tape and we stuck them to a beam that sticks down into the kitchen of the apartment so that it would be largely invisible during the day but late at night with the lights off coming from the bedroom through the kitchen you'd see the message glowing back at you. Freaking brilliant. This is what you get when you put a lighting designer in charge.

Despite the fact that we had a great time and that we loved all the decorations it really wasn't about us so I was still a little nervous that it would look like more work for Miflohny. Fortunately that wasn't the case. She liked it, The Media Guy liked it and even the Little Seal liked it. Apparently he loves watching them twist in the breeze and they help him to stop crying once in a while so there's been no need as yet to take them down!

The picture above is from the ceremony that dedicated Little Seal into the Unitarian Universalist church. Now, I'm not an expert on voodoo, I mean religion, but I do end up attending a lot of different religious ceremonies and the UU ones seem to be a sort of "come as you are" sort of a thing. So the family included a ceremony with cranes that they had invented themselves. Miflohny made about 40 cranes out of brightly colored origami paper and she sewed an equal number of beautiful antique buttons onto a lovely ribbon and hitched that to a thin board for ease of access. At the close of the service each member of the assemblage was invited to choose a crane from the group and loop the attached thread to one of the buttons. Miflohny plans to make a mobile for her son out of the craned up ribbon.

So maybe I'm OK at starting traditions after all.

Tally Ho!*

I think I should speak to some comments from the recent budgetary posts.

All amounts labeled dinner and/or dinner out are for me alone. Maybe once in a while it'd include me buying a round for a friend or for the table but in the most recent cases not so much. I've been screwing up on the carrying-enough-cash-to-pay-for-shit front. It's a perk of being a girl and single that when I go out for a drink or dinner or an ice cream (totally thwarted on the ice cream front tonight, there is not in fact a Tasti D where I thought there was near the theatre and for that I'm truly disappointed) or whatever I mostly have only to budget for myself. Not all the time mind you. My stupid job puts me in a different stupid tax bracket from some of my friends so I do sometimes try to pick up some slack. The friends of the last 2 nights don't so much let one do that. Bless them, the little fuckers.

Chocolate milk from the greenmarket for a week of breakfasts: $3
4 books from a stoop sale including the Pop Up Book of Phobias: $1.50
Ticket to a friend's show (same friend from last night, different show): $15
Drinks with aforementioned friend and wife: $20

Total: $39.50 (Now that's more like it!)

*Oh come one, not even a little snicker? That's funny.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Who does this?

I would like not to be judgemental about stuff but I just am. It happens. Sometimes I can control it and sometimes I can at least control my mouth and sometimes I have to vent.

Who does things like threaten to punch their 3-year-old in the face because he got his hands dirty? (#54 Bus last night) That one makes sense in terms of riling someone up. In point of fact I'm embarrassed that it's not the one that put my fingers on the keyboard.

The one that did, though, was about a kitten. Someone sent out e-mails to neighborhood blogs asking people to cross post about a kitten they'd found immobile and crying near their apartment building. Nothing unusual about that, and nothing bad so far. The last line of the e-mail was, "Animal Control picked the cat up an hour later."

What the fuck kind of idiot calls animal control about a kitten? What sort of animal lover sends a kitten to the CACC without dire necessity? Are you a deaf moron living under a rock with a bright light pointed directly into your eyes that you haven't gotten the memo (written in clear type on sturdy paper using small words) that Animal Control is the CACC which is a kill shelter? So, you found a kitten, took the trouble to take it in and assess the damage and you put in motion a system to try and find the owner but you couldn't keep the damn cat a couple of nights? The guy who lost his cat is going to be so grateful to hear that when he gets back from vacation to find that his cat has already been euthanized. Nice work.

Yeah, I know, not everybody would take in an animal in distress and get it the care it needs to recover when it's in trouble.

Not everybody.

Just everybody I know.

Oh, and have I mentioned here that, among other punishments I think that Michael Vick (or whatever his name is, let's just refer to him as that scum sucking football bastard [TSSFB]) should have all of his money taken away, even the money that he may be using to support his family, friends and "posse", and it should be evenly distributed to no kill shelters across the country?

Tune in next time when I redefine "teabagging" in reference to bodily punishments for TSSFB.

Positive Reinforcement

I forgot to tell you, I think the universe is pleased with my budgeting work. Today I found a $20 bill on the ground while I walked the dog!

Second Star from the Right and Straight on 'Til Morning!

Tomorrow ProfDoc and the Math Guy board a plane to pick up one of these. Not the pictured model specifically, that one's already installed in another home, but one that's very like it. An internet embargo on photos is in place pending final documentation, which is probably smart. Who wants to tempt fate this close to the final fitting, right?

ProfDoc's model has similar hair coloring, similar eyes and, in the immortal words of Mr. Cosby, also has "the stem on the apple!" However we all know that, as similar as any of these may be, they're all custom made, one of a kind items and Prof Doc's was made by a different company and manufactured in a different country even, so generalizations are futile. We must all just wait and see but the exciting bit is that the wait is almost over.

We here at 117Hudson wish your family safe passage and a quiet, content homecoming with your new...er...appliance. Whoops, I guess one can stretch a metaphor too thin so I guess I should sign off.

Goodnight Moon.

Friday, July 27, 2007


I turned the last page 5 minutes ago. If you want to discuss e-mail me so we don't run the risk of spoiling anything for anyone.

Here's the cash count for today:

Dance class: $15.50
Groceries: $38.77
Ticket to a friend's show: $18
Dinner out: $25

Total: $87.27 (It's hard not to have your heart beat a little faster when you read these outrageous totals.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

How Many Dirty Jokes Can I Make With the Word "Spent"?

Health Insurance (2 mos): $1536.20
Lunch + tip (sushi!): $12
Tasti D Lite + tip: $3.75

Total: $1,551.95

And just think, starting September 1 that top number will be $444 larger. Good thing we've gone wading into Iraq instead of working on universal healthcare. Whew.

Anyway, a few housekeeping issues before I hit the post button.

The dog, she is fine. What I may not have made clear before is that her energy, her appetite, and her general demeanor have been perfectly fine all along. As of about 30 minutes ago her bowel function matches her general demeanor. Still have 8 days of antibiotics and a day of pepcid and possibly a lifetime of bland food left to go, though.

My new Harry Potter book...has about 20 faded pages so far (not contiguous). They're still readable so I'm soldiering on but it's making me wicked nervous.

Also, I'm in the 520s about now, so the end is nigh.

Chili called herself a bitch in the comments of a previous post. Since that's out there in public I want to make abundantly clear in public that those are not, nor have they ever been, my words. Honestly, I haven't even been thinking them. As a for instance, she's bailed me out a couple of times when I failed to balance my checkbook for months on end. It happened, she was really kind about helping and it's over, we've found a solution that works for me and means she doesn't have to pull my ass out of the fire again. However, she still ribs me about it. As well she should! I didn't balance my checkbook for almost a year, come on, that's notable and funny. To me, the whole refusing to go to the reunion but taking the time and effort to post a blurb on the web site and to do enough research to send me to the event with an assignment is in the same category. Funny, no? Sister, once I'm done writing about the reunion (which should be very soon) the mentions will dwindle almost to nothing, I promise, just want you to know where I'm categorizing this. No bitching about it.

I know that nobody cares what I had for lunch, but what about dinner? I came home and walked the dog and ran into Kath & Alex. Which turned into a walk to their place so Kath could give Em a scoop of uber healthy Scooter Food. That morphed into her making dinner for me and Alex, even though she wasn't eating. At which point Alex gave me 2 DVDs, worked on mastering a song for my CD and we watched a freaky restaurant show. I got home at like 9:20. That's a damn fine accidental evening, no? I love my friends.

Oh! And while I'm loving my friends, Miflohny, I keep forgetting to e-mail you, I'm totally on for the clothing swap on the 5th. Please tell me where to meet you and when, I've got clothes (some of them brand new) just waiting to be swapped.

OK, now I'm done. Sleep tight y'all.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Visiting My Goals, like they were in jail or something

I cannot recommend enough the practice of regularly checking your to do lists. It seems daunting when you don't feel like you're accomplishing anything but I can almost guarantee that when you check out the list you'll see more progress than you feel.

It's harder to do than I make it sound.

For a couple of months now I've been trying to get myself to look at the original 107 in 2007 list but it's been too scary. I looked at it today, though, and it's not so bad. I'm doing OK. Not great maybe, not maybe halfway through the list, but putting in a good solid effort. So, I thought it would be nice to share and maybe hear back about how you all are doing with your goals for the year.

1. Get regular vocal coaching - this is in a whole new perspective now that Jay is dead. I'll need a plan B. It's both easier and harder to move on Plan B knowing that Jay is not an option.
2. Record full-length CD - I have got one more track down on this.
3. Scudder Memorial (Jan) - subbed Mrs. X's service for this and have spent time talking to Steph and Bud about the whole deal, so it's done and in as good a way as possible.
4. Finish DVD - DONE
5. Night Before Christmas for fam (make a book? buy them?) - I've been thinking about it a lot but I think I need to make some physical tests in order to make headway.
6. Memorize Night Before Christmas - this really shouldn't be as hard as it feels. I could get started on it soon.
7. Continue Floor Barre classes - All over this, trying for once a week and, barring travel, making them. I think I'm getting better, too.
8. Add another hour per week of exercise - certainly this is true with all the walking I'm doing for the activity points.
9. Teach at NSCC (April) - got canceled, not of my own accord. Sub in "Hold brunch at my house" and it's DONE.
10. See Red Molly in MA (April) - got canceled due to time and budgetary constraints with the wedding and the funeral and stuff. Sub in "Throw dinner party" and its also DONE.
11. Submit play to 20 places - I think I've done 1.
12. Book Shakespeare 20 places - I'm on the verge of 1.
13. Go on a date - heh. yeah. right. remind me to tell you about the one person at the reunion who felt the need to save me from my single status.
14. New Year at the steam pipes - obviously can't have done that yet. Still really looking forward to it and thinking about what sort of film I'll need to get good pics.
15. 2 field trips with Alita - We've been to the aquarium once, so that's good. I'm thinking maybe the museum next. Or the botanical gardens. Or both in one outing.
16. Write 6x/week on blog - I must be averaging this still. I'll definitely be hitting it with the new budgeting feature.
17. See Avenue Q - DONE!
18. Post-Thanksgiving Open House
19. Make 3 cross stitch bibs (Music Baby, ProfDoc kid, Miflohny baby) - 2 down one to go and I better freaking step on it, the kid enters the US a week from today!
20. Find director for Chekhov - I had a meeting with a potential director.
21. Reading of Chekhov
22. Full production of Chekhov
23. Sing live - technically done but in spirit I think I'd still like to keep working.
24. Hang pictures
25. Bathe dog once
26. Perform at Boerum Hill nursing home sing along - DONE! And I'd like to do it again.
27. Pick songs for nursing homes show - I've got 3 or 4 that are pretty right.
28. Learn songs for 27 - Almost there.
29. Book 5 nursing home shows
30. Lobsterbake (June) - DONE. My mouth waters just thinking about it.
31. Cook Christmas dinner
32. Do stockings for Christmas
33. Polish up 3 short stories - I've done a second draft of one and sent it to Wayfarer for more comments.
34. 20 short story submissions
35. Go to Met Museum
36. See an opera
37. Go to MoMA
38. Go to Frick
39. Buy back-up hard drive - DONE (thanks to Mr. Chili)
40. Get back-up hard drive installed - DONE (see above for the thanks)
41. Install Final Draft
42. Learn how to use Final Draft
43. Eat 3 servings of fruits & veggies/day - I don't have proof positive but with the whole weight loss thing this is happening for the most part.
44. Finish work filing - DONE god bless it.
45. Re-do work files
46. Keep work files current
47. Donate mattress & box spring - DONE, donated 'em to Pony Express' guest bedroom.
48. Clean out closets
49. Set up home filing system
50. Gyn appointment
51. Dentist appointment
52. Buy scanner
53. Scan family photos
54. Pay Kath & Alex back for Emily care - Am I done here? Sort of.
55. Auntie Blanche's birthday
56. Trip to beach - technically done on Aquarium day but I want to go by myself before summer is out.
57. Art work for CD - DONE (thanks to Alex & Kath)
58. Post photos to Flickr - I'm doing this, it's fun, I'm doing a lot more with all kinds of photography.
59. Invest 1/2 savings - see previous enry about how I'm sort of accidentally spending it instead. HATE.
60. See accountant in person - DONE
61. Re-work investments to maximize return
62. Sort out IRA contribution
63. NaBloPoMo
64. Brooklyn Museum - DONE
65. See Coast of Utopia - not an option anymore, sub in "Go to 20th HS reunion" and call it DONE.
66. Update address book - er, did I really put this on the list. Yick.
67. Make Christmas cards
68. Take more photos - Doing it every day, baby, so happy.
69. Go to one Share the Wealth Brunch - DONE
70. Read classic/good-for-me books - Done? Sort of. Read some more Dunnet, read American Psycho which is a modern classic and deserves its own entry.
71. Plan birthday celebration
72. Go to Aquarium - DONE and it was awesome.
73. Set automatic payments for health insurance - I'd like to make this a priority.
74. Bring lunch 3 days/week - Not this week but most weeks I'm very good with this, especially since the weight watchers. It's become a habit.
75. Give SG1 back to Ulserad - DONE, FINALLY, and, predictably he wasn't even ticked, he just laughed.
76. Get photos framed
77. Eye exam - DONE
78. New lenses - DONE and new frames too, hey that's where a bunch more money went, aha!
79. Contact lenses
80. Make out will
81. Inquire about grave plot
82. Renew passport - I got the forms for it and I got some for Pony Express and Teddy's Girl, too.
83. Submit for print audition
84. Submit for commercial audition
85. Write Rena once/month - Not doing so great lately but can start over
86. Write Auntie Blanche once/month - See above, I have sprung her from the home for at least one meal every time I've been home, though.
87. Cook once/month - I'm sure I'm doing this, though no proof is available. It's almost impossible not to with the weight loss program.
88. Go to Cyclones game
89. Take all vacation days - 6 down (plus my roll overs from last year) 10 to go!
90. Make new cookbook pages
91. God's Love for Thanksgiving
92. Solve eletric meter problem
93. Write to The Athlete - DONE, a couple of times even, will do more.
94. Write something 15 minutes/day - I go in and out on this but I'm working on it.
95. Send Christmas thank you notes
96. Read This Is Not Over once/week - This site is now defunct so its not happening. Sub "Attend Father's wedding" and it's DONE.
97. Drink 64 oz. water minimum/day - Totally a habit.
98. Buy rings from Yelle - Sub buy from Queen Bee and I've MORE than accomplished this.
99. Get painting fixed - I've tried, don't think it's going to be possible. Pissed.
100. Vocal warm-up 5 days/week
101. Physical warm-up 5 days/week
102. Daily vitamin - I stopped doing this because it was stopping me up.
103. Pay extra mortgage payment
104. Pay off loan from Mom - DONE!
105. Get massage - DONE!
106. Get facial
107. Buy cocktail dress that fits - DONE maybe a couple of times over what with the reunion and the wedding and the weight loss.

All done: 28
Habits in place (separate from All done): 11
Not done but progress has been made: 18

Like I said, it's not half but it's good progress. I don't feel like a slacker now. Though I do feel like I've got a ton of shit to do, what am I doing sitting on my tuckus watching TV right now?

New Feature

OK, today has not been a banner day. Really not. I purchased a 2nd Harry Potter on Gertie's advice. Gert is something of an expert on these things and she says that at some point my unique copy of the book will make a little money. I'm wrapping it in a plastic bag, putting a label on it with the exact specs and waiting for Gert to tell me what to do and when. OK Gert, deal?

When I picked up my mail on the way home to walk the dog before I could take the 60+ minute round trip to pick up the new book I got a notice from my health insurance company. Due to "normal" cost increases my insurance goes up over $200 per month starting September. For those of us counting that's 5 weeks from now.

Jesus fuck people.

Anyway, this is all coming in the middle of a storm of money spending. Things that are being discontinued that if I want I must buy now. Clothes for a new body. The program that got me the new body. The food with the program. The trips. Your mom needs you, you only get one 20th high school reunion, your dad only gets married onc....er, well, you get the idea. We all know that I have some savings so I've been bailing myself out but I hate that I'm taking money out of savings. Hate it. I don't want to stop my automatic investing. But this is what happens to me, just when I feel comfortable buying both the things that I need and those I want, just when I see that I might be able to blow off the regular job somehow* I get blindsided by stuff and I freak out.

I hate the freaking out.

Knowledge is power, right? So the new feature is going to be daily. Daily, eek! I need to make a budget. I need to understand what I spend so I can see what the frak is happening here and feel more comfortable. Starting today I'm going to tell you where every penny I spend goes. I'm going to do that for at least a month. I'm treating it like I did the weight loss. The first month (it was a week for the weight) is going to be just about seeing what goes out (it was in for the weight, I know, same concept) and not try to change it. If it's to be a true portrait of what I spend then I can't be trying to record it and change it all at the same time. This is the first step that the Budgeting Babe told us to take. After that, I don't know, I'll have to ask her.

Welcome to your new jobs as my accountability, people. The pay sucks but the benefits...well, they also suck, thanks for signing on!

$76 - monthly metrocard
$7.80 - salad for lunch
$.20 - to homeless guy on train
$30.35 - replacement Harry Potter book
$.65 - to homeless guy on the street
$4 - Tasti D + tip

$119 (OH MY GOD! OK, monthly metrocard, OK, not so bad. Breathing. OK. Whew. Frak.)

*My head believes that this year is all about making me understand that I will never feel as though I'm "ready" or "safe enough" to do any of the delicious dream things that I want/need to do but that I should do them anyway. The rest of me is still stubbornly refusing to make those leaps.

Curses! Foiled Again!*

We all know that 2007 has not exactly been a gay stroll down the proverbial primrose path for me but for cripes sake this is getting out of hand. It's like the Year of Living Annoyingly.

I didn't get a lot of the new Harry Potter read last night (NO SPOILERS IN THIS POST) because of the whole vet thing. I have, though, been reading on every mode of transportation, reading while walking as well as taking lunch breaks to read. I thought by today I'd have been in the 400s page-wise.

Of course I also thought that my book would include all of the 300s.

Yup, I'm a freaking statistic, my book goes from page 386 to page 451 then it reads on in chronological order to page 482 at which point it reverts to page 419 and goes on from there to the end.

Still doesn't help me find out what the hell happens between 386 and 419, though.

My beloved bookstore is going to give me a replacement but it means I have to haul my cookies over there and with the dog...let's just say that it's going to be a long night. Let's also say that my committment to purchasing from independent bookstores is coming back to bite me on the ass. (Although, there's a B&N a few blocks from the beloved bookstore and it RAN OUT of Book #7s and has been sending people to my preferred store so...the ass biting is equally distributed.)

What the fucking fuck, huh?

*I was going to use the title, "Harry Potter - SPOILED!" but I figured no one who hadn't finished the book would read so I held off.


It's OK, the fanfiction sites are OK.


No need to send pornography I'll be fine.

Thanks for asking, though.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


According to Monsieur Scalzi there's been some sort of implosion due to heat maybe. Anyway, it means that the servers of many popular hosts have keeled and need to be resurrected. Most notably, LiveJournal.

Do you know what lives on LiveJournal?


Someone bring me a cool washcloth and some smelling salts.

Not Regularly Scheduled

So, yeah, I was feeling motivated to write some interludy reuniony things and then maybe even on the same night some more actual reuniony stuff. Then I came home to find my apartment floor dotted with liqufied poo and my dog bleeding from her tender bits.

Just got back from the emergency vet because the regular vet doesn't take emergency appointments in the last 2 hours of their day. Verdict on the new, closer emergency vet is 8 out of 10 tails up. I don't know if I'd love them to pieces as a regular vet they're certainly the best emergency vet I've ever been to and I've been to almost all of the ones this fair city has to offer.

The dog is all lumpy from the subcutaneous fluids, she's been shot up with Pepcid and has a scrip for more by mouth, she's got 10 days of antibiotics and special food. Oh and the er, intestinal issue probably won't improve visibly, if you get my meaning, for another couple of days. If she's not better by Thursday or if she vomits more than once then back we go.


The other thing hemmorhaging is my wallet.


I'm going to go eat a hot dog now and then go feel sorry for myself and my dog.

Glam weekend? She is over.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Just Jump Right In

It's so hard to start this. I've got no sense of coherence to it at all. I think the only way to do it is in a listy sort of form. The most important thing is that I had a fabulous time and I'm so very glad I went. No, I didn't talk to a lot of these people in high school, I didn't have a ton in common with them back then and I have probably less in common with them now (no kids, no "regular" job and, weirdly I'm the only person of the folk I spoke to that lives in New York) and yet, when I just jumped in and started talking to people it was good. I tried not to let too much of my crap from high school get in the way. I mean it did, there are some people I thought I might try to talk to and it just didn't fly because I couldn't get over myself and stuff that happened to me 20 years ago but I talked to so very many people that I'm OK with giving myself a pass on the ones I couldn't manage.

Part of what helped me be so very brave was good wingpeople. Suzanne and her family and Janet and her family had committed beforehand to hanging with me and they weren't just whistling dixie. Even when I struck out on my own or got lost in a crowd I wasn't by myself for long, someone always appeared at my side and joined in or opened up a conversation for me if I was the one doing the appearing.

Possibly my favorite moment of the whole day was early on in the state park part of the festivities. You know, the daytime stuff I was all afraid of that I thought I might not want to go to? Yeah. Well, I'd made it just inside the designated area for groups but not much farther since I just keep talking to people and I was standing talking to Suzanne, Janet and the Actuary when my phone rang. It was the drummer calling to say that he wasn't going to be able to make it after all. He's working on a fairly involved jazz fusion sort of project with a guy from Haiti and another guy who was coming in from New York and he just wasn't going to be able to make it up to the dinner after that. I was disappointed but it was great to hear his voice and we talked for a bit before he asked, "So, how's Janet?" I said, "Don't take my word for it, hold on." I passed my phone to her and didn't get it back for probably 20 minutes. He talked to everyone in the circle. I had a fleeting moment of thinking, "Oh, I hope that doesn't make him uncomfortable. I hope it wasn't too pushy of me." When I got my phone back, though, the drummer was chuckling and he said, "That was fun." So we talked some more and I asked if I could talk to him some about my CD and we talked about getting together in NY or New England and then I signed off very energized by the connection that everyone had made.

A little while later I was walking across the lawn to the table that Janet's family had staked out and I was about to walk by some people that, obviously, I knew but hadn't talked to much in high school. I was on the verge of walking by and I thought, "What the hell are you doing? You're here to hear all the stories. Live the purpose for cripes sake." So, I made a last minute veer that I hope wasn't too terribly obvious and stopped to talk to them. The woman was in my class and the man was in the class above me. They've been married for a while, I don't know how long. They have 2 daughters and 2 dogs. We talked about the dogs for a long time. (One pure lab and one lab/pit. The lab is a high energy hunter and the put is a committed couch potato. They had a dog who they had to let go a while ago who was 15 years old, they baby they had before they had babies.) When I got worried that my arms were burning they let me use their sunscreen. I sprayed my arms and the small bit of my legs that was visible and my feet. See below for the proof that I failed to take my V-neck shirt into account. See what a lovely silhoutte the necklace that Queen Bee loaned me had? It comes in gold and silver, just let me know if you'd like to purchase one and I'll put you in touch with QB. Anyway, I also commented on one of the daughters. She was wearing a very cool safari sort of hat pulled low on her head. It was pink and brown and it was close patterns of butterflies with something sparkly on it. I complimented it to her dad and he was sort of noncommittal. That night, later in the evening I ran into the dad again and in the course of the conversation he said, "Well, you saw her, she has alopecia, she has no hair." I was honest, I totally hadn't noticed, she looked like a kid with an awesome hat to me. I think he thought I was hinting around for an explanation and by later in the day he'd figured out that wasn't the case.

Chili sent me to the reunion with an assignment. Won't go herself but she sent me with a job. I've been giving her shit about this for years. This is the sort of thing that a sister never gets to live down, just so we're all clear. Maybe at the 30 year mark I can use it to convince her to come and do her own dirty work. A member of our class is a chef and he has recently started teaching at the same college where Chili teaches. She wanted to be sure it was the same guy. I hadn't moved much out of our own little circle yet but I could see the guy and was working up the courage to step in. Like angels on the wing Janet and Suzanne appeared at my elbows. We stood on a small rise and surveyed the lay of the land. It was very Tombstone in my head. We agreed that we hadn't somehow made it over to that side of the area at all and we should give it a try. I pointed out the chef and they agreed we should start there, so off we went.

That dude is, for real, the hardest working guy in our whole class, bar none, I'm almost certain. He runs his family's restaurant, he teaches at the college, he's working on an online degree for which there have been a number of setbacks and he's got 4 boys (19, 9 and 6-year-old twins) three of whom were with him that afternoon. We had an interesting conversation about how he finds the teaching and how the culinary portion of the college treats students. I hope Chili is able to take the time and meet this guy at the college because what he had to say could be really helpful as she struggles with painfully low student motivation and painfully lacking student skills. There was another guy standing with him, one of our class officers, and he told a wonderful story about the two of them going on a boat trip with the chef's dad when they were in 8th grade. Apparently they were all the way out by the Isles of Shoals and the gas gauge was stuck. The engine sputtered and died and that's how they figured out that the gauge was broken, the dad called them in to the coast guard for refueling assistance and there they sat. All of a sudden they felt a spray all over them and turned to see a pilot whale break the surface just inches away from their boat. Still a vivid memory for both of them. Which isn't really surprising.

There were a lot of young babies there, first children for their parents who were in the just crawling to walking stages. Anecdotal evidence only, I suppose, but a testimony to the theory that my generation is waiting a while to procreate.

Janet's son is a freaking joy to behold. Good lord he jurt my heart he was such a delight. I wanted to shellack him and put him in my pocket and keep him forever. He's five and he was doing his best to be very shy. As his mother and I talked with another class member about some relatively serious subjects he leaned against her knees and turned from attention sent his way. That is, until I threatened to tickle him. Then he turned full face to me. For a threat I got rewarded with a hard-repressed chuckle and then if I actually tickled him he let go with a belly laugh that just rang in your ears like the sound that joy in your heart is supposed to make. It was addictive. I tickled him a lot. Eventually, though, he was distracted by the lawn games that Suzanne's kids were playing and he wandered off. A while later I was heading out and I felt a tug on the back of my capris. I turned and the little boy shot me the sun shaming grin and said, "Tickle me, please?" Well hell people hardly ever ask for that, who am I to refuse? So I spent some more time making a friend before I headed out.

I spoke to another person who I knew peripherally in high school. She had just moved back to the area when we met at the 10th reunion. Now she's working in the NH prison system as a family services liaison. She kindly talked to me about performance opportunities and was candid about the fact that it's about who you know usually but also very willing to help me get to know some people who do that sort of thing. That's indicative of how interested and kind and helpful people were the whole day. Whether we all follow through on the conversations is still to be proven but the overall vibe was about making connections, however fleeting.

The guy who told the whale story is about 6 weeks shy of his first anniversary with a woman who grew up just a few miles away from Aunt Rena. We all had a good laugh over the state of the town nearby that's only wide enough for a strip club. I said that I always picture the strippers as being about 80 with boobs down to their knees. Whale Guy said that was about right...or so he'd heard.

The actuary had brought his 3-year-old but not his wife or his 6-year-old. The little one is as blond as blond can be and very independent. Dad lost her for a couple of moments because she was perfectly happy to go off and introduce herself to new people.

I had a lovely talk with a guy that I'd had some classes with. His eyes were always this piercing blue, made twice as riveting by his tanned skin and brown eyes. They are exactly the same now. It's distracting to talk to him because you can't look away from those eyes. We talked a bit about his son's baseball team who did very well in the playoffs and his own baseball team made up of guys who played in college. I also found out that, despite working in computers and networking for a hospital, he majored in art in college. I had no idea, no inkling that would have been his choice. Though he doesn't use the degree too much now he makes a habit of doing pen and ink drawings of friends' houses or of the church when he goes to a wedding and giving those as gifts. He hasn't done his own house or church yet but I think he'd like to.

Those are the highlights of the day time event. I'll stop there for today. MKAEP asked me to get some full body shots of the "new me" over the weekend and I have to say that I mostly fell down on the job. I made some deals with Suzanne and Janet to get shots e-mailed to me, and I will share those when they come in. There were also disposable cameras at the evening gathering and those are supposed to be uploaded to the event site so I can put out a link to those, too. I was so busy talking and didn't want to interrupt the flow by pulling out the camera so I mostly left the picture taking to people with partners who could click the shutter. Luckily they're willing to share the bounty. So, on Sunday when I visited the Chili house I asked Mr. C to take a full body shot of me and Chili so I'd at least have something to share right off the bat (see above).

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Two Words for You:

Awe. Some.

And two to grow on:

More. Later.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How've you been?

Nice finger crossing you guys. The drummer got back to me last night and he's going to crash the reunion sans ticket so we can hang out. If he gets beaten bloody by some sort of reunion bouncer and can't get in I'll just leave and take him to the emergency room. We can catch up there. I hope the cafeteria serves beer.

Here's why I'm sort of ticked that a lot of people I hung out with in high school aren't going to be at this thing. Well, first there's the "Wanna lick? Psych!" part where a couple of people were very into it and a month later backed out. Absolutely their right and not something I have any say in. Except that I'm a Capricorn and a daydreamer so I'd already been daydreaming up the events in my head and the change of cast just ruined the continuity for me. It made me feel abandoned, you know, 'cause in my head the event had already begun and people just went home without me and when I called their cells to ask where they were they were all, "I'm home in my jammies, that party was lame!"

Yes? And? Oh like you didn't know I was a little unbalanced before now.

Hey! The four of you that just mumbled "A little?" aren't getting framed fragments of my asbestos sprinkled shirt from last night.

Yeah, ok, I'm tired and cranky and it's been a tough couple of days and I couldn't even shower this morning so trying to write something well crafted is, perhaps, a pipe dream. Oh well, pressing on!

The other real reason that I'm sorry that some of my homies (heh) are coming is that I live far away and many of them have families and lives and whatnot and it's very unusual for us to all together including spouses and stuff get a night out to mingle and sip a glass of wine and talk about shit that doesn't really matter but that's good to know. My fondest dream is to somehow engineer an open house sort of party in or near my hometown to be held annually on Christmas Eve. There might even be caroling involved if I get the proportions of liquor to humans right. Keep in mind that I own no property near my home town nor is my mother's house a viable alternative. Also, Christmas Eve, despite the party being open house and all, is a hard day to start up a new tradition. I've tried before. The phrase "fell flat" is about the kindest thing I can say about it. So, a reunion is no friends and family party, of course, but someone else has already rented the hall and booked the DJ and gotten everyone to RSVP so why not take full advantage? We'd have each other and we might see or meet some interesting people. Either way it would be a pleasant night out and any unpleasantness would surely be minor and mostly good for an anecdote.

I might be a thousand percent wrong about the unpleasantness, I recognize this. The organizers of the reunion for the class of '85 at my high school only invited the people they wanted to see two years ago. They left out people they knew they wouldn't be interested in including some who lived in the town and could not fail to miss the slight. They tended to be trendsetters in our school and twenty years on they proved that some people really don't ever grow up. Nice trend. Nice to know that I, and several of my very vocal classmates, grew up enough to buck that fucking trend.

The thing is, like I'm sure I've said before, I had a super good time at my 10th. Not everyone there was pleasant, sure, the organizer practically waved me away saying, "Just get out" when I stopped by to thank her for a lovely event but she'd done a lot of work and probably been second guessed by a thousand people by that point so I forgave it. (Notice how I didn't forget, though. Yeah, not so good with that.)

On the flip side, though, I met a ton of people who are doing interesting and cool things and almost everyone was doing whatever they did with a conviction in its rightness. I clearly remember someone I never pictured as a mom being happily 8 months pregnant. One guy was not only doing cool work as a helicopter pilot but filled me in on his brother who was in band with me in HS. Despite being about as different as 2 shared blood people can be those guys had a rough but focused loyalty for eachother that even now makes me tear up a little. It was nice to know it remained intact. Have I told you about the guy who built his own house? And by that I mean built with his own actual two hands. His reply when I commented on .... Oh god I think I have told you all these stories before. Which means, of course, that I'm going to be exactly like the guy at the last reunion who gave his life summation exactly the same way, with the same words...oh, did I tell you about him too? Did I mention that the 10th reunion was when I reconnected with Chili so this is like our sort of 10th friendiversary? OK, sorry, moving on.

Suffice to say I had a great time because I met interesting people. When 3 guys got topless to YMCA I showed myself out to a car whose lights I'd left on and had to make an ignominious return to ask for a jump. Yes, as a matter of fact I did ask just that way. Yes, it did take me a minute to get a reply that was going to get the car started.

To be perfectly frank I'm a little concerned that my story won't be so great at this juncture. At the 10th reunion I'd recently moved back from the UK and was on my way to MI for my tour. I was working freelance and had big dreams. My dreams, the dreams I can talk about in a realistic format, aren't as far along or as flashy as the ones I was fulfilling 10 years ago. I'm keeping in mind that I've done plenty for a legit conversation and if, god forbid, anyone figures out that I was in New York on 9/11 then I can pretty much stop speaking altogether and ride the wave. My real talent, though, is the super zoom fast sum up and the relentless follow up questions. I like to keep the focus on the other people using a couple of well-crafted nuggest as sort of conversational chum if I really need it. As I sat down to write this I thought that why I like going back to these reunions is a lot like why I read blogs, I've read so many chapters to these lives already, I'm just psycho curious to see how it all turns out. Which is my plan.

I've got a hot outfit for the dinner with some strappy sandals and my ivory skirt and a sheer ribbed green blouse in that weird green that looks evil on the rack but somehow looks pretty good on me. I'm going to wear the Tiffany ring I bought myself as a gift for my perseverence at my last icky job and Queen Bee will accessorize the rest. I've had my hair cut and colored and my shampoo evaluated and even bought some big girl fancy foundation and lip liner last night. I think my outsides will match my insides. In a good way.

My dream is that I'll laugh and have fun and maybe dance and that all my friends will secretly show up and we will get the biggest kick out of the whole thing. But even if it doesn't work out that way at all I'm excited to be going and I'll be glad I went because it would be worse not to know first hand. If it sucks I'll just breeze on out of there with the drummer and we'll go to somewhere more like my natural habitat huddled at the end of a bar somewhere drinking beer and then I'll go back to the Bees' and get into my jammies and tell Queen Bee, "That party was lame!"

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Legend In My Own Mind

A couple of weeks ago I was the proud recipient of a Rockin' Girl Blogger award from Chili. It was super kind of her to include me in her short list of awesome people with VaJayJays...and blogs. I added the others immediately to my Google Reader (I heart Google Reader, you should go get one. I'll hold your place while you do. It's free, go on!) I pat Chili on the back heartily for a lot of things but man, especially for plucking 5 hot chicks from the long list of smokin' hot chicks that she knows is not easy. I'm flattered. Also, nearly paralyzed with making the same choices for myself. You know how I am about commitment, and if you don't you haven't been reading me long enough.

The thing about the Rockin' Girl Blogger award is it's a pay it forward sort of situationality. So I have a responsibility, after being in such good company, to pass the favor toward the front of the class. Plenty of candidates to choose from. Too many but I'm going to do it. If you're not on this list I promise, it's not you, it's me. I'm not even joking about that.

1. For my first one I'm going to cheat because it's going to make my life easier and allow me to fit in 6 bloggers in 5 slots. Kinky, huh? Which is just how these ladies like it. MKAEP and Gert have their own blogs but they also contribute to a team blog, Corner Booth at Hudson's. If you hit Hudson's you'll get all their own bloggity goodness and links to their personal stuff. I love them for bringing the straight up every day honesty they have in real life to the blogosphere. You'll read about driving 3 hours to get laid and having the guy totally screw it up. You'll read about nephews and penises and the hilarious interaction between the two. You'll read about motherhood and hair and being the best friend or sister or daughter or person you can be and trying to reach goals that seem always to be 2 inches from your fingertips. And you'll probably pee yourself doing it.

2. These first 2 slots, by the way, are all brought to you by the letter O for Oktahona, I mean, Oklahoma. They grow 'em smart and funny where the wind comes sweeping down the plain and Chrome is no exception. As a matter of fact she's more Shiny Chrome Example of the phenomenon. Phrases like "hotsie totsie", "one-way ticket to Cuntville" and "Ow! My aorta!" are the norm over at her place. Her little slice of life has nuts on it and she's willing to share.

3. Kath is my go to chick for music stuff. Not like, "I need an accompanist." but "I'm ignorant and don't know who sang this marginally popular song from 1985, do you?" kind of stuff. So, imagine my surprise when one day I came flinging into her kitchen indignantly screeching, "You'll never guess what I just read from this woman who claims to be a feminist and a music lover! She doesn't think women can rock!" and Kath replied, "Me either." And here I am nominating her for a Rockin' Girl Blogger award. I can't help it, she just is. She's into local history, she steals Christmas ornaments from hotels, she writes about music with great depth and insight and she believes in form as part of function, which I have to say not many of us do anymore. Her craft is as great as her art. I know she started her blog as a way to keep far away friends and family up to date without succumbing to a Christmas newsletter or anything but it's more than that now and I love it. We're totally hitting some historical hot spots this summer and will report back.

4. I do not know the Budgeting Babe, I've never met her and, actually, I can't tell you how I found her. I can tell you, though, that she's performing a public service by using her personal financial issues as a jumping off point to help other people get a handle on theirs. She's not interested in contributing to our culture of debt and she thinks there's a way out. To that end she's writing a blog about it and helping others to make good financial decisions. I worry about money. A lot. Even when I maybe don't have to. Reading the Babe's blog helps me take charge instead of sitting in a corner in the fetal position rocking back and forth. She recently challenged her readers to make a budget, even a hindsight budget, to see where our money is going. I will take her up on the challenge. I promise. No, really, just as soon as I can stop rocking.

5. Some might think that I am nominating Antonia purely for the purposes of sucking up and hopefully being introduced to the best accessorized man in France. ( The smile, not the baby!) And some would not be entirely wrong. But, seriously, she's funny. She has that dry, self-deprecating yet utterly oddball humor that feels like a rope pulling me back to London. London, a place where some of my party jokes are actually understood. In a good way! I want to make some sort of hilarious pronouncement like, "She's the mating of Monty Python and the Queen Mum" but, aside from not being accurate it's not terribly flattering. I can't explain I can only recommend, highly. She rocks.

Go out and enjoy some Rockin' Girl's blogs and report back. Tell me who else I should be reading.

*Rockin' Girls pictured are Kate Moennig, Annie Lennox and Julie Flanders.

This is the ASPCA called

The sound of wet feet in wet crocs is like walking on an endless string of disgruntled mallards.

"Quack. Quock. Quack. Quock. Quack. Quock."

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hooo Whee!

I just came from a community meeting for my portion of the apartment complex I live in. It was about the yahoos who sit in the courtyard until all hours defying the house rules and keeping people like me up. It was frustrating, this meeting. No stone was left unthrown and yet, it was still entirely unproductive.

But I don't want to talk about that because it's just sending me into frustration spirals. So let's do a little talkback from the comments section.

First, breaking news, I just got a comment from Kate Hellman from CA about Jay and I want her to know, if she stops back that, I'll look for her at the memorial. She's got a leg up on me, though, since if she pokes around here a little she'll find pictures of me. Kate, look for me, please, I'd love to say hello tomorrow. I am looking forward to seeing the show but am trying to remind myself that it will be so different without Jay live and in person.

On to the more frivolous, to everyone who said I look good, thank you! And a special shoutout to Chrome for using the phrase, "Hotsie Totsie." From the heavens my grandfather just fell in love with you for that.

Miflohny is pretty much living through all the stuff I am weight-wise but with the added excitement of sleep deprivation and breastfeeding. We should probably go thrift store shopping together. This whole cycle is why I buy a basic uniform. A get a few pairs of pants that are OK for work then I buy like 10 t-shirts or turtlenecks/long sleeved tees depending on the weather and I mix and match for every day. It makes the day to day better although now I've got a whole wardrobe of uniform separates that just don't quite work. Anyway, I hear that the whole sugar craving thing is pretty normal for breastfeeding. I think it was Carmencita who said she could have eaten a cake a day while breastfeeding. I say, if it's what the baby requires then, tough though it may be, you're obligated to eat a cake a day. About going back to the low fat diet when you have to I have only sympathy. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help.

On the weight loss, I have been exercising but nothing too strenuous. I replaced my bus ride to and from the train with a 20 minute walk, so that was something. I added walking in other places, too. I think, though I can't prove it, that I sometimes replaced eating with walking. Times when I would have planned what to eat when I got home I planned where to walk the dog or how to get someone to go walking with me so I'd walk farther or longer. I also have been going to floor barre faithfully, not counting the 6 weeks where my arm was all f'd up. I don't know if not skipping those weeks would have made the weight come off faster or if my body is used to the floor barre and it doesn't make much of a difference anymore. I do know that I took 2 classes in one week for the first time over the 4th of July week and I still didn't lose any weight that week. It's possible that one class balanced out one piece of pizza and a glass of wine but how much would that suck, huh?

I think I am going to keep going with the Weight Watchers. Predictably I think I'm going to go with the waffly, "Put the goal at 125 and feel free to stop anywhere with a 2 in the middle." Kath, and others, articulated it for me, which was something I needed. I will feel better if I have a little wiggle room to stay within the acceptable health margins. At 125 I'd have 15 pounds between me and questionable health, but I'd be fine with a 5-7 lb. buffer as well. There's just something psychologically satisfying about being in the 120s. So, on we go. I'll continue to try my best not to be boring about it. It's the thought that counts, right?

I still owe us all a pre-reunion post and I think I will get to it. In brief, I'm looking forward to it. I'm nervous about the daytime part because that's going to be family oriented and I'm not bringing my family. I'm pretty sure it's no dogs allowed anyway. It's harder to just drop into a closed family unit conversation. It's harder to do that in daylight. It's harder to do it before you've gotten the lay of the land. It's just hard. The evening thing I think I can hack. I'll have a glass of wine to lower the willies and to keep my hands occupied. I have some sort of homebase friends at each event. I'm also going to be seeing a number of other folk both from my class and the classes around it. Keep your fingers crossed for me that the drummer will manage to get in touch with me so we can talk for a bit, maybe go for a drink or a coffee.

In case you didn't see it, Kath confirmed that Em is not the last of the old guard. Five is still doing well and his family had a birthday party in the park for him during off leash hours a few weeks ago. That was good to hear.

Quick clarification for Clemo, my birthday is the 9th so I'd have to look for holidays on the 10th. He did find one on the 11th, the founding date for The Corporation for Relief of Poor and Distressed Widows and Children of Presbyterian Ministers. Given my Scottish heritage and that my almost father-in-law was a Presbyterian minister that one seems a good fit for me, though.

I still haven't checked out the pet insurance dealio with pre-existing conditions. Someone keep on me about that, will you, please?

Anyhoo, I've got almost 3 hours between work and Jay's memorial tomorrow. I plan to bring the renewed camera with me and walk from work in midtown to the Duplex in the West Village with a couple of stops for errands and food taking pictures all the way. I'm still thinking about what I'll wear. I don't have any Christmasy clothes, though that's what I'd like to wear since I think that's what Jay would do. I'll go with some bright colors and I'll bring my singing voice...and tissues.

Ten Pictures I Took With My Rejuvenated Camera

I've shot my first roll of film with the camera post-rehaul. For the geeks among you I shot with 800 speed Kodak film. Some of the stuff I thought would come out great really didn't. There are some pictures of flowers I took for their gorgeous colors that got all washed out. I did not include them here.

Here's probably my favorite flower shot of the roll.

You know, one of the many differences between shooting film and shooting digital is that film makes you stingy. You don't want to waste film that already cost you something and that's going to cost you something more to get developed just to show people the Madonna in your grilled cheese. So I had to talk myself into taking this next shot and pretend I could make it all artsy. This is some monstrosity that's being built in the 'hood. The unfinished balconies give me vertigo and I wanted to show you.

This is a gorgeous pair of brownstones also in the vicinity. Would it not be a fabulous place to stage excerpts from Romeo & Juliet?

I'm finding that there are some lens issues to be dealt with, too. My camera is old school. Legend has it that it's the make and model of camera that journalists took to Vietnam and used both to take photos and pound tent stakes. It's made of metal, you wind it with your own damn thumb and it still sports the same hard core 1978 style camera strap I got when I got the camera. I own one lens for it. So you shoot things that are exactly as far away from you as they are in real life. No zooming when you're going Old School. This is, apparently, a lesson I haven't quite grasped yet. If you can see the Vespa that's the subject of this next shot then you don't need glasses.

I painted that. Then I took a picture of it.

Here's another one of my favorites. I love the warm colors and it looks all treated, right? But its not. I was shooting in really low light and wasn't paying attention to shutterspeed (yeah, I have the ability to change the shutterspeed which would be another of those basics that it took me a day or so to make second nature again) and mostly was just getting off on working the whole depth of field thingamajig and I took this shot. When I figured out the shutterspeed thing the next day I was sure this one would come out all wrong. Nope, not bad. On the other hand, how can you take a bad picture of that face?

Cheesy first shot of first new roll of newly rejuvenated camera. I was sitting in a B&N, there wasn't a lot of variety, I did the best I could. It's nicely composed at least, no?

Hey! I got a new dress and new haircut and new hair color and I took a picture with my "new" camera taken on the same night where I hadn't figured out the whole shutterspeed issue. What do you think?

Taking pictures while walking your dog on her 16 foot leash? Challenging. Hard to keep everything steady and upright. Thankfully she understands "Stop." Sadly she often thinks it means, "Stop, turn your head, look at me, then keep walking." And it takes me longer than that to set up a shot these days. Anyway, the fact that this place used to be an actual "Home for Old Ladies" (click to enlarge and read) cracks me up so I always try to make pretty architectural pictures of it as an excuse for the same old laugh about old spinsters being shunted off to a home (Gah! Shut up my future!). Sadly after I got it lined up my dog walked off, so this is what you get.

Teddy's Girl took this one. I was taking some shots that didn't come out very well and she and Teddy were waiting patiently for me. The whole time this butterfly stayed on my bag. She was able to stop me, get me to hand her the camera, pose me and take the shot. I have cropped out my double chins and my bunchy elastic waist shorts. Sue me.

Did I warn you that there'd be a lot of photos once I got my camera back? I'm having so much fun, I can only tell you with pictures!