Friday, December 22, 2006

The Scoop, Sort of

Twenty-four hours from now, if all goes as scheduled, I'll be standing by a baggage carousel, looking for the two largest, brightest bags I own to emerge. I'm going home for the holidays, for what I hope will be a good break, because don't we all know I need one? Yes, we do.

Monday marked six months here in Connecticut, and I do believe I've earned the right to sleep in forever and ever until the end of time. Amen. Also maybe halleluljah. Can I get a witness?

I'm very much looking forward to spending time with family and friends over the holidays. Kansas City folks, I'm so sorry I neglected to send out an e-mail as of yet warning you of the need to reschedule your lives so you can see me, but here are the details: Saturday, December 23 through Monday, January 1. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are mostly taken. New Year's Eve is shockingly void of actual plans, so if any of you would allow Jarod and me to impose on you for that holiday, we would be most grateful. I might even bake something to bring along. Other than that, I'm just looking to hang out. If you are in Kansas City and you would enjoy hanging out with me, possibly drinking large quantities of caffeinated beverages, please do give me a call or shoot me an e-mail or leave me a comment or however it is you'd like to get in touch so we can be in touch.

Happy, Happy, Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Plenty of Reasons for Hateration

But I'll just give you three. If you hate me for one of these, you are totally excused, and you don't even need to apologize. You can even shoot my profile photo a surly look if you want to. And I'll understand! I won't blame you!

1. I was done with my Christmas shopping sometime between December 1 and 3. I don't remember exactly, because, frankly, that was a long time ago! Like at the beginning of the month! Since then I've picked up a few extra gifts for people just because, you know, I saw something I thought someone might like, but all the necessary shopping was done way back when. I always do this. In fact, most years I'm done before Thanksgiving.

2. I've lost weight this holiday season. I also lost weight last holiday season. Unintentionally. (You can throw rotten things at me for that one, actually, and I will so totally understand.)

3. I have a habit of happening upon conveniently located empty parking spaces that still have substantial amounts of time left on the meter. While everyone else is digging through pockets and purses to find coins to pay, I am already slipping blissfully into the shops to pick up whatever my little heart desires. Because, as mentioned in number one, my holiday shopping was done a long time ago.

Let the hate begin. Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Saturday in the City

I spent the most wonderful day in the city yesterday. Every time I have a good time there, I post the same words about this time being the best time yet, but I really mean that. This time was even better than the last best time I had.

I had a post all done up for you over at flickr because I thought it might be nice to put the photo in the top right corner like it does automatically for me, but for some reason that didn't work out, and I lost it. Which is maybe better anyway because it wasn't saying what I wanted it to say exactly. So I'm going to make a list for you instead of all that mumbo jumbo I was trying to put together before. It's a list of what I loved about yesterday.

1. wreath and man waiting

2. Edward Hopper at The Whitney. I was blown away by his work, much of which I didn't anticipate. Included in the exhibit were paintings, studies he'd done in Conte crayon and charcoal in preparation for those paintings, illustration work he did to make ends meet when he first started out, and notebooks filled with his notes and sketches. I forgot how moving it is to stand in the room with great art, to see a lot of one artist's work in one place, to get a feel for who they were and what moved them. I am enamored of Edward's handwriting. I wish he would write me a love note.

3. Picasso at The Whitney. His works were paired with the works of American artists he inspired, and I must say that his brilliance overpowered all the rest. While Max Weber and Roy Lichtenstein can hold their own, and one of the Jackson Pollock works made me rethink him entirely, many of the rest looked simply rudimentary. I don't know that I'd truly understood before what made Picasso great, but now I get it.

4. The display of stuffed Snoopy dogs in the window at Macy's. The crowds around the Macy's displays nearly drove me to my knees in agony, but no one was crowded in front of the Snoopy window. So I stood there by myself and looked at all those stuffed Snoopys, wishing that I needed something that cost $35 at Macy's so that I could acquire my own stuffed Snoopy for just $14.95 while supplies last. My wish didn't come true, but perhaps you need something that costs $35 at Macy's? I'll pay you back the $14.95 for the Snoopy if you'll help my wish come true. (I'm serious.) (I really want one of those Snoopys.)

5. Tristan Prettyman at The Beacon Theatre. The woman next to me kept saying how she'd never heard of her before, but wasn't she good? She is good. I bought shirts, one for me and one for Jarod, because I want her to do well this tour. We have plenty of shirts, but I think that our Tristan Prettyman shirts just might make us even cuter than usual.

6. Ray LaMontagne at The Beacon Theatre. He hushed the crowd and then filled up that silence so beautifully. I don't know any other musician who can do that quite so well. It was an excellent way to end the evening.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Upside to the Stomach Flu

Is that the stomach deflates like an old mylar balloon. I don't think I've had a stomach this flat since the Reagan Administration. I'm not the type to voluntarily experience a lot of suffering for Legendary Abs of Steel (read as: not a girl who'd be willing to abuse laxatives), but if it happens, it happens, and I'll admit to standing in front of my mirror a long time this morning, gazing on in wonder. Like, whoa, DUUUUUDE, this is, like, not even my stomach. But it is my stomach! For about 48 hours, I'm guessing. I've already resumed my former ways, which would include digesting my food normally and being able to eat more than a half a piece of toast at a time. (Moment of victory today: Five cookies for lunch!) (Except maybe most of you wouldn't call that victory; it would very much be defeat.) (I guess you just don't love cookies the way that I love cookies.)

I'm grateful to be feeling well again. I don't know about the rest of you, but when I've been sick, particularly when the sickness involved a pretty good deal of pain, just feeling mostly okay is cause for celebration. Feeling back to normal? Party. Time.

Mostly I'm just relieved that I'm well again in time for tomorrow's venture into the city. I've been waiting for this day for a long time. I've got a quick errand to run straight off, but then it's off to The Whitney to see the Edward Hopper and Picasso exhibits, and then I've got a date with Tristan Prettyman and Ray LaMontagne at The Beacon. I've been looking forward to this day for a long time, and it would have been a shame to feel anything less than well.

I guess all I'm saying is: It's so good to feel good.

Happy Weekend, Internets.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

I Would've Blogged Sooner, But I Just Wasn't Feelin' It

What I was feeling, however, turned out to be the stomach flu. But far be it from me to actually admit up front that I'm getting sick.

I should have realized something was up on Sunday when I wasn't hungry by the time I reached the checkouts at IKEA. I'm always hungry by the time I reach the checkouts at IKEA. Then there were the stomach pains Sunday night, which continued all day Monday, plus the decided lack of hunger which also held over from Sunday. But I pressed on, undeterred by what couldn't possibly be illness, because I don't get sick, and even if I do get sick, I can totally tough it out and do everything I normally do anyway.

Well.

Yesterday morning I felt, I don't know, a twinge or something, but I brushed it off and went running, after which I did this yoga/calisthenics combo I've been trying out as means of being both more flexible and also having actual muscles in my arms. I felt the twinge again, accompanied by lightheadedness, in the middle of the walking lunges, and then again in the middle of the plie squats, but did I quit? Of course not! Because I'm no quitter! And I'm not sick! Even if I do have some other symptoms that normally indicate illness!

Ahem.

By three, when I waited what seems forever for Al to retrieve the lunch bag he'd forgotten in his classroom, I realized that, huh, well, uh, maybe I am not so well. In fact, maybe it's hurting me to just be upright. I drove us home and told the kids' dad that my stomach seemed to be a bit upset and painful, and maybe I needed to lie down for a minute or two. He let me off for the rest of the day, I went upstairs and did a face plant into my pillow, and proceeded to sleep for three hours straight without moving. After which I sat in a recliner for the rest of the evening without moving. I went to bed early and slept as if someone had knocked me on the head with something quite heavy.

I guess, after all, I really was sick. And also kind of a moron.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Great Napkin Indecision of '06

I spent three and a half hours at IKEA this afternoon, the bulk of which was spent going back and forth between the napkin section and the candle section because I kept changing my mind about the napkins, and then about the candles, and then about the napkins, and then about the candles, and so on and so forth. In my IKEA, the napkins and the candles are at opposite ends of the first floor, which made it even better. Then, to really throw me off, they also placed some napkins and some candles near the checkouts. I nearly caused myself a brain aneurysm from the strain. It's fairly ridiculous how many times I can change my mind. I really shouldn't be allowed in IKEA without a chaperone.

But I do love IKEA with the entire part of my heart reserved for home decor at cheapish prices, no one could keep me away. No matter that I had to park five thousand miles away from the entrance or that I wasn't even hungry for one of the fifty cent hot dogs when I actually had fifty cents in my pocket to purchase one (unlike last time, which was a hunger tragedy of fifty cent hot dog sized proportions); I had a fabulous time nonetheless. I came away with a wish list to beat all IKEA wish lists and a host of recommendations for savvy shoppers considering IKEA furniture purchases. If you need to know anything at all about the comfort level of various couches or the ease of drawer openage for assorted dressers, I'm so totally your girl.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Is It Wrong That Sometimes I Pretend I'm Annie Sullivan?

And that Al is Helen Keller? You know, in the beginning, when she was grabbing things off people's plates and then Annie had to break her of all her bad habits and make her behave like a human being already?

It was a doozy today, kids. I won't get into it because that would be, well, wrong, but I will tell you that I got a lot of knitting done while enforcing an early bedtime.

Also I will tell you that Corinne Bailey Rae makes me feel better. Thanks to Mark and Amy for the iTunes gift card, which made this listening session possible.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Here's How Serious My Television Problem Is

Tonight while watching America's Next Top Model, I sent the following text to my boyfriend:

I really need CariDee to be America's Next Top Model. The only reason that Melrose could win is because she made a deal with THE DEVIL.

And then when CariDee was, in fact, named America's Next Top Model, I got a little emotional.

I love me some awful television, that's for sure.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Now That NaBloPoMo is Over, I Feel a Little Empty Inside

But also relieved, as holiday travel and blogging every day don't mix well for me. Still, I kind of miss being forced to blog every day. Now I have no compelling reason to give you anything except that I feel like I owe you something at least once a week or so.

...

What I really need are jeans that do not contain stretchy fibers, yet also do not restrict my thigh type area so much that it feels like circulation is being cut off. Is that really too much to ask?

...

For the record, I do not like playing wall ball. In fact, I pretty much despise it, nearly as much as I remember despising walking beans (you farm kids will know what that is--the rest of you can try The Google to figure it out). Please don't tell Al. He'll have a very hard time taking the news.

...

I like to do that whole thing where I "listen to my body" so I can "give it what it needs," but do you know what it's been asking for? Iced lemon loaf from Starbucks. Also whipped cream.

...

I had this goal to knit something other than scarves this year, but, um...how about 2007 for that one?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Myth of Potential

I'm sure you've heard it said before, "He has so much potential," or "She's just not working up to her potential." It's an acceptable statement, and one that causes other participants in the conversation to shake their heads in a show of "Oh, dear, how unfortunate" support. So much potential, so little use, how can the world go on if it's not realized? I'll admit to joining right in and agreeing. Such a shame, such a waste, how heart-breaking. And most often we've been talking about children, adolescents, or college students.

When I was in college, I remember distinctly the moment that I realized that, were I to work hard enough, I could graduate summa cum laude, with highest honors. There was no way to lay claim to a 4.0 at that point, but I had summa cum laude potential. I looked hard at the figures on my page. I thought about what it would take. And then I decided to aim lower. To shoot for summa would be to put immense pressure on myself; to go for magna would be much less stressful, not exactly comfortable in terms of lack of challenge, but comfortable in terms of how it made me feel on the inside. I knew I could do magna. I knew I could finish the courses and still feel as if I had a life that I could somehow manage. I knew that when it came to potential, I needed to not live up to mine.

Our whole lives are full of potential, both positive and negative. We can't live up to every single potential that exists. We must choose, and we must do so for ourselves, knowing that each choice will eliminate some others, and that this is the way life works. Though our culture may put emphases on certain potentials as being more desirable than others, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are more right or healthy for us. I have the potential to eat a lot less and be a size two, but I choose to enjoy food. I have the potential to go back to school and get my PhD, but for now I choose to be a nanny. I have the potential to spend all my earnings on items from Boden, but I choose to continue paying off my debt. I am making the choices that are good and right for me. Finally. It's been a long time coming, and I'm sure it will continue to come as it has for the past ten years, slowly and deliberately, as I come to better understand who I am and who I am meant to be.

Becoming a nanny in this area of the country, serving this particular demographic, has opened my eyes to the huge problem that focusing on certain potentials is creating. I've just begun reading The Price of Privilege, and I am blown away by the magnitude of what I've been observing day by day here, which Madeline Levine has researched thoroughly. The gist is that the parental pressure towards working up to certain potentials is hijacking the ability of children, particularly of affluence, to develop a strong sense of self. They grow up trying to live up to everyone else's idea of what they should be, and they end up feeling a vacancy inside, not knowing who they really are and what they really want. I believe this is an injustice and a tragedy. While parents mean well for their children, and are doing their best to allow them to gain every advantage they think their children should have, ultimately it leads to problems of a far greater magnitude than a child not getting the best grades possible for them.

I have noticed in many children the prevalence of academic success paired with an inability to deal with the basics of life, bright minds paired with emotional issues. Simply put, they can do very well on tests, but they just can't handle their lives. The smallest things cause emotional turmoil; there is no ability to cope. They feel overwhelmed, but they have no way to recognize that or to ask for a way out. And if they do recognize a problem and ask for a way out, that same ode to potential is sung out again, sometimes with great force. Success, to many Americans, does not include the development of compassion, of self-control, of a sense of well-being. Those things, we think, come with achievement of the academic and monetary sort.

But I, for one, am not buying it. I would much rather see an average report card and a face of joy, so-so results in sports and a healthy attitude about losing sometimes, moderate standardized test scores and a genuine concern for others. I don't know how to get there exactly, how to gently but firmly let parents know what risks their children face if the pressure to achieve stellar results in certain areas persists, but I do know that I'd like to try to reach a place where that's possible, where I'm not so afraid of the consequences to me personally that I fail to say something that could ultimately do a world of good for the children I know and love.

I'm going to be working on that. If you feel so inclined, you can say a little prayer for me as I do my best to figure it out.

In the meantime, if you'd like to know more about the problem, I encourage you to pick up The Price of Privilege. Just reading the inside of the cover will give you an idea of what is going on in this area, of the obstacles that those of us who are concerned about this problem face.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

A Very Merry Anniversary to You


mom's hairdo is the raddest
Originally uploaded by marymuses.
Thirty-eight years ago my parents, who were practically children at the time, were married. In 1968, the legal age for marriage was eighteen for women and twenty-one for men. My dad was only twenty, so my Grannie had to sign the appropriate documents for him. My mom, however, was freshly nineteen and, child bride though she was, was allowed to sign legally binding documents for herself. She has now been married twice as long as she was single, so I guess that decision worked out well for her.

For an anniversary present, I think my mom would like to have several large dumpsters delivered and then filled to the brim with all the useful junk my dad has been stowing away all these years. My dad, on the other hand, would probably love the gift of being able to keep every single thing just in case he might be able to use it later. Since a good marriage is built on compromise, neither one of them will likely get just what they want, so instead I simply ask that you join me in congratulating them on making it thirty-eight years with such divergent opinions. I think it's pretty remarkable.

Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I'm Posting Because I Said I Would Post Every Single Day in November, and So Obviously I HAVE TO POST

Yesterday was partly miserable because I have this thing with feeling anxious about getting things done and getting them done soon and getting them done well, and right now it seems like there are a lot of things to do. After spending the better part of the last week either traveling or preparing to travel, I came back to discover that nothing that needed to be done here did so on its own, and DANGIT, now I have to do ALL THIS STUFF. So there's a huge list in my head and all over about twenty frillion 3x5 note cards (on the blank side mostly, if you must know, which is an awful waste, prompting me to add to the lists: use lined side of note cards and then recycle), and I have to do it all, and for some reason I feel like it needs to all get done right this second. Or yesterday. Yesterday would be preferable. Plus I'm trying to keep up with running and other assorted workouts for body and mind so I can live long and prosper or at least not be forgetting my own name and needing Depends by the time I turn forty-five. It's a little much. So today I decided to take a vacation. From, you know, being myself and trying to get it all perfect. I decided that I'd do each thing on my list if I felt like it, and only if I felt like it, aside from the work related concerns, which, let's face it, I kind of have to take care of unless I'd like to risk being jobless and homeless before my contract period is up.

I suppose I did all right. Mostly I just kept reminding myself that it doesn't take any more time to breathe normally than it does to hyperventilate with worry. I did everything that was necessary plus a bit more.

And now I'm down to the last item of the day; the blog post, the one I have to write becaquse I made a commitment to post every day of November. And this one I want to get right. I want it to be perfect. I keep sitting here, typing and delete and typing again just to get my point across. Except that's not what today is supposed to be about. Today is about leaving that p in the middle of because and just signing off because most likely no one cares but me anyway, and if they do, maybe they have too much time on their hands.

In which case, hey, I've got a list of things you can help me out with...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thirty-One

(I suddenly feel the urge to make a lot of Baskin Robbins-inspired puns.)

This is the first birthday I've spent far away from most of the people I love. I have appreciated all the good wishes from afar, as well as the little party thrown for me by the family here, but I must say that mostly it wasn't a banner day. I miss being around good friends, and that is especially magnified today. I've been lucky enough to spend all my holidays at home, but this little personal holiday found me on my own. And I'll be honest: It kind of sucked. I wish I could have beamed you all here for a little coffee and cake.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Still Trying to Figure Out What the "Plus" in "Fat Burner Plus" Means

As penance for having no time at all to exercise while home for the Thanksgiving holiday, and due to the fact that Frank had the day off from school today, so I couldn't run during daylight hours, I subjected myself once again to the StairMaster in the basement after work hours. After last time's effort at Level Ten, I decided I should take it up a notch (but not to the limit), straight to Level Eleven. I have a history of taking things up a notch, or maybe eleventy katrillion notches. For example:

When I was a kid, a preteen perhaps, young enough to have to go with my mom to the grocery store when she went, yet old enough to reason out strange revenge, I accompanied my mom on a shopping trip during which she purchased for herself, and possibly for my brother as well, who also liked them, a package of coconut macaroons. Having a serious aversion to coconut (the flavor, the texture, the YUCK), I reasoned that Mom should buy something for me to enjoy as well--perhaps some M&M's, or maybe some Soft Batch cookies. She declined, saying, "But you can have as many of the coconut macaroons as you want."

We came home, we put away the groceries, and Mom disappeared, to what location I don't remember. What I do remember is that shortly after her exit I poured myself an incredibly large glass of milk, sat down with the package of macaroons in front of me, and ate every single one, bite by miserable bite. I don't remember how long it was before Mom went looking for the macaroons, but I do recall the great satisfaction I felt when, after she inquired where the macaroons were, I simply said, "You said I could have as many as I wanted, so I ate them all."

I don't think she ever made a joke about me eating food I didn't like again, especially if it was one of her favorite things and there were limited quantities.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Finally, A Post That Will Suck a Little Less Than My Previous Posts

Maybe.

The thing about traveling home to Kansas City is that the visit is always too short. If it were a normal visit to a vacation destination where I, say, didn't have any friends, it might seem like a reasonable amount of time. (I say "might" because if I were sitting around eating croissants suisse in Nice, it would never be long enough. Ever.) There would be no families to connect with on opposite sides of the state, no friends that get completely left out of the visit, no episodes of America's Next Top Model that get missed because there's just no time for quality television.

But it is what it is, and I am trying not to complain too much. Jarod and I did get a remarkable amount of things done. I had Starbucks more than once outside of the airport (and once in the airport). In fact, I got to hang out with Rachel and my cats while enjoying a delicious Starbucks beverage. If that's not a win-win-win situation, I don't know what is. The one thing I do wish had gone differently, which is a constant in my life of travel, was my last day in town.

The problem is that no matter how much I try, I always feel rushed getting to the airport for my flight out. I try my best to get up a little earlier, to pack some things up the night before, to convince Jarod that it's a good idea that he rise early and bring me a gourmet breakfast, but it just never works out. It usually ends up that I eat candy for breakfast while throwing things into my bag, make three cups of tea that get cold before I drink them and then finally, on the last-ditch-effort cup of tea, the one I actually remember when it's still at least lukewarm, I realize that there is only skim milk to put in it, that the half & half I glimpsed there before expired in September, and I don't do skim milk. (If I wanted a glass of water, I'd just have a glass of water.) At that point there's really no time to send someone to the store for half & half and some respectable milk, so we end up stopping at Starbucks, which would normally be fantastic, but I am tired and grumpy and I just want some tea the way I make it myself and also some more time to do all the things I wanted to do but didn't have time for.

And thus I get on the plane in a bad mood.

My goal for my Christmas trip is to work that one thing out, or at least make it a little better. I don't want to feel like I'm rushing back out of town, rushing back towards a places I'm not ready to return to just yet, rushing towards a layover in an airport that closes its shops before 6pm, rushing towards another shuttle ride that scares me to pieces. I'd like to wake up in a leisurely manner. I'd like to have a good breakfast and a good cup of tea. I'd like to get to the airport early and sit for a bit before I have to scurry through security.

In the meantime, when I'm not compiling a list of all the things that need to be in place to make that happen, I'll be enjoying New York City. Even though I'm never quite ready to come back, once I'm here and I'm settled back into life as it is here and now, I'm all right. I remember why I came here and I remember how much I love taking the train in for more NYC adventures. I also remember that, come springtime, I'm making all of you come to me.

Start booking your tickets, people, and let me know when you're showing up.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

As typed by my personal typist

Because I'm in an airport.

I should have brought my laptop.

the end.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Something I Forgot About the Holiday Shopping Season

It makes people stupid. Or maybe it just brings all the common-sense challenged folks out of their homes and into public spaces. Whatever the case, if you do choose to participate in any sort of idiocy in the name of shopping or seeing the pretty pretty lights, please get out of the way of other, more sensible folks when you do it.

Should I deem it necessary, further instructions will follow at a later date, when I am not so exhausted from avoiding hitting pedestrians who insist on walking out right in the middle of moving traffic, regardless of traffic signal and/or lack of crosswalk.

Thank you and goodnight.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Did You Hear the One About the Couple That Drove Across Missouri and Back in One Day?

Neither did we, because it wasn't a joke; we really did it!

Two Thanksgiving dinners, one holiday lighting ceremony, and a little Grey's Anatomy. I'd say we did all right, wouldn't you?

But now we're tired, and so I'm bowing out early. AGAIN.

And you can bow out early, too. If the tryptophan hasn't kicked in yet, you must not have eaten enough turkey. Go have a sandwich or something and hit the hay.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My DS is Cuter Than Your DS

I mean, unless you also have a pink DS. Because I have a pink DS. Thanks, Jarod. Early birthday presents rule, and so do boyfriends that give them.

...

My day started at 3:15am, after I dreamt all night of missing my shuttle to the airport.

It ends now, with me totally skimping on a post in favor of getting a little sleep before tomorrow's early morning wake-up call. I'm sure you understand, right?

Just say, "Right."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This One is Basically Just a Copy of My Itinerary

I'm hitching a ride to the train station, and we're leaving in half an hour or so, and guess who just now remembered the magic of NaBloPoMo? As much as it might be fun to blog from the Fifth Ave. Apple store, I don't believe I have the time to do that and sleep. Because my shuttle to the airport? Comes at 3:35am.

YESSSSSS!!!

My flight is at 7, I'll be on the ground in KC (hopefully) by 9:20, and then off we go for the whirlwind that is Mary's Thanksgiving "Break" 2006. I believe I'll get to sleep in, let's see...ONE WHOLE MORNING that I'm in town, and that will be the morning of the day I return to Connecticut. The day I have a four hour layover. In Milwaukee.

I'm just so very excited about all of this.

I'm sure you can tell.

Let's hear it for the holidays!!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ticketmaster is the DEVIL

See:

dev‧il  [dev-uhl] noun, verb, -iled, -il‧ing or (especially British) -illed, -il‧ling.
–noun
1. Theology.
a. (sometimes initial capital letter) the supreme spirit of evil; Satan.
b. a subordinate evil spirit at enmity with God, and having power to afflict humans both with bodily disease and with spiritual corruption.
2. an atrociously wicked, cruel, or ill-tempered person.
3. a person who is very clever, energetic, reckless, or mischievous.
4. a person, usually one in unfortunate or pitiable circumstances: The poor devil kept losing jobs through no fault of his own.
5. Also called printer's devil. Printing. a young worker below the level of apprentice in a printing office.
6. any of various mechanical devices, as a machine for tearing rags, a machine for manufacturing wooden screws, etc.
7. Nautical. (in deck or hull planking) any of various seams difficult to caulk because of form or position.
8. any of various portable furnaces or braziers used in construction and foundry work.
9. the devil, (used as an emphatic expletive or mild oath to express disgust, anger, astonishment, negation, etc.): What the devil do you mean by that?
10. ticketmaster
–verb (used with object)
11. to annoy; harass; pester: to devil Mom and Dad for a new car.
12. to tear (rags, cloth, etc.) with a devil.
13. Cookery. to prepare (food, usually minced) with hot or savory seasoning: to devil eggs.
—Idioms
14. between the devil and the deep (blue) sea, between two undesirable alternatives; in an unpleasant dilemma.
15. devil of a, extremely difficult or annoying; hellish: I had a devil of a time getting home through the snow.
16. give the devil his due, to give deserved credit even to a person one dislikes: To give the devil his due, you must admit that she is an excellent psychologist.
17. go to the devil,
a. to fail completely; lose all hope or chance of succeeding.
b. to become depraved.
c. (an expletive expressing annoyance, disgust, impatience, etc.)
18. let the devil take the hindmost, to leave the least able or fortunate persons to suffer adverse consequences; leave behind or to one's fate: They ran from the pursuing mob and let the devil take the hindmost.
19. play the devil with, to ruin completely; spoil: The financial crisis played the devil with our investment plans.
20. raise the devil,
a. to cause a commotion or disturbance.
b. to celebrate wildly; revel.
c. to make an emphatic protest or take drastic measures.
21. the devil to pay, trouble to be faced; mischief in the offing: If conditions don't improve, there will be the devil to pay.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I Just Can't Look Away

Or change the channel. From Dr. 90210, the show on which real people are seen receiving all sorts of plastic surgery for the most ridiculous of reasons. And also (my favorite!), parents taking their teenage children to have plastic surgery done. "Dear Mom, Thanks for the new boobs! The boys like me better now, and I have so much more self-confidence! Except not really, because I wish someone had liked me a whole lot just as I was!" It seems as if it doesn't even begin to occur to these mothers (I haven't seen a father bring someone in yet, though I'm sure that's coming) that perhaps there is a better way to boost their daughters' self-confidence. Like, I don't know, maybe telling her how lovely she is already, how perfectly beautiful she is just as she is, how she doesn't need some damn surgery to be confident. What must it do to a girl to have her mother agree that she "needs" (and yes, most of the mothers on this show have spoken of how their daughters "need" this surgery) something about herself to change?

One thing I now recognize that I needed as a teen, more than anything else, perhaps, was someone who would step forward and tell me how beautiful I was. I remember thinking then that I wished I were beautiful, when the truth is that I, like every girl, already was. That there was some roughness around the edges is true. That I needed to grow into myself and understand what best enhances what I already have and am is also true. But every girl is beautiful, and she needs, above all, to hear that from her mom.

You know, before she comes to the conclusion that she must need surgery.

Geez.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

You Demand, and I Continue to Deliver

This one is just for Holly, who wanted to see both my lips wearing the new lip color and my cute little face. Also the sweater is pretty awesome, but Holly didn't ask to see one of the awesomest sweaters from my vast sweater emporium. She asked to see my lips and my face. So there you have it. Enjoy.

...

I've been meaning to get around to replying to all your lovely comments, and I was doing a fairly good job of keeping up there for awhile, but then my life happened and that whole deal fell to pieces. The good news is that I've gotten a lot done lately, and will be getting a lot done in this next week; the bad news is that most likely that whole "getting a lot done" deal will mean that I initially have no time for commenting about your comments and then eventually that even if I have time to comment about your comments, I'd rather be napping or staring off into space without bothering to blink. Whatever the case, I am sorry that I can't manage to reply to everyone's comments, and I would like to remind you that I appreciate you all very much and thanks for reading and all that. Whatever, that's not what you're here for. You're here so I can tell you that I got kicked out of a lobby in New York City today.

Oh, yes, I did.

Because I (ohmygoodness) dared (how could I?) to sit in on the floor next to the wall in an empty lobby after purchasing goods from two of the retail shops in the building, one of which sells food and beverages but had no available seats, and get out a sandwich so I could eat part of it. I KNOW. I'm a rebel. I also desired (imagine! the audacity!) to consolidate some of my purchases into a few bags as opposed to the six I was currently wielding. And to quickly check a message on my phone. All at the same time, of course.

Apparently, these things are not allowed in certain lobbies of certain retail spaces in New York City. I had no idea.

Or maybe I did, and I was flagrantly disregarding the NYC social code which indicates that one shall not, under any circumstances, spend time in a lobby other than to pass through with one's purchases.

Still. Seriously. Do you know how many lobbies I've paused in to eat a quick snack and rearrange my purchases over the years? And in multiple cities around the globe? Lots, that's how many. I am not a stranger to lobby floors.

The security guy that was working, an old guy who has seemed generally pleasant in the past, was a bit worked up that I was there. He just opened the door from the inner lobby to the outer lobby and started saying, "Aaaaah, NO. NO. You canNOT do that. NO." First I thought he was talking about eating the sandwich, and then I thought maybe it was because I was checking a message on my cell phone, but then when I asked nicely if I could please just put my things together into a smaller number of bags quickly, while standing even, on my way out the door, really, he just kept saying, "NO. Aaaaah, NO. My supervisor is here today and NO. You can't do that." Oooookay. Well. I know where not to shop anymore. Thanks a million.

Dang. New York is weird.

Friday, November 17, 2006

I'm Wearing Mary Poppins Penguin Pajamas and an Oversized Fleece Jacket While Watching What Not to Wear

Which is code for, "Please come and get me and give me a $5000 Visa Card with my own name on it!"

The truth is that I know how to dress myself; I just don't bother sometimes. Is that against Stacy and Clinton's rules? I think it probably is.

...

This week was hijacked by the most boring inconveniences imaginable and capped off by a flurry of activity that resulted in a serious bump to the head while I was putting the dog food away. I had rushrushrushed all day long and into the evening just so I could arrive in my own room above the garage in time to watch the nighttime replay of Oprah in its entirety. And I totally would have made it, too, except that I had to stoop over and clutch my head for awhile in order to recover.

...

I've decided that I really need to be nicer about people making things more difficult or time-consuming for others. After all, most people probably have good reasons for doing the things they do, and some of those reasons are probably the same reasons I've had for doing the exact same things in the past. Or they're senior citizens, and really, can they help it? No, they cannot. Someday I'll be a senior citizen, getting in the way (and doing it very slowly) of all the younger generations, annoying the crap out of them. I so plan to enjoy that part of being old.

...

It isn't acceptable, however, to be a bona fide jackass and do things you know are wrong because you think you're more important than everyone else.

Yes, I'm talking to you, Mr. "I have a BMW and I can drive on the shoulder when I'm in a hurry."

...

Right. Anyway. Have a spectacular weekend.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What Do You Think the "Plus" in "Fat Burner Plus" Stands For?

And why do I feel like I've been spending a long time at sea after I step off of a StairMaster?

I thought I should choose "Fat Burner Plus" as opposed to just plain "Fat Burner" or "Aerobic Fitness" based solely on my knowledge of the amount of cream cheese I globbed onto a bagel this morning while waiting for the minivan to receive some service. Not only did the service keep me from the run I'd planned, but it also allowed me to ingest as many bagels and cups of coffee as I wanted for free. The guy said, "Help yourself to all the stuff that's over there, whatever you want," and since he seemed like a sincere man, I took him up on it. I was there for four hours, reading magazines that were leftover from 2005. Let's just say that's a long time to take advantage of free bagels and coffee.

Sometimes the idea of anything free just takes over and I can't help myself. Have I ever mentioned that sometimes in Lindt stores they offer free truffles, and that usually there's more than one employee walking around with a small bin of truffles? And that I have no shame in taking one from each employee so long as they haven't seen me taking one from another employee?

Well.

Now you know.

...

After that confession, I feel like I should go eat a bowl full of sprouts.

...

It's all about the balance, people, all about the balance. If you eat a lot of bagels and cream cheese and drink a great deal of coffee laden with sugar and half & half, you have to exercise and get some proper nutrients. It's the deal I make every day so my pants will continue to fit. I think, all around, it's totally worth it.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Lips of a Stranger*

Yesterday while whiling away the hours at Target, I selected a new lipcolor, one that is a bit bolder than I normally try, one that promises to stay put for up to twelve hours, one that even includes sparkles (which I did not know about in advance, but like just the same). As I normally use cherry Avon lip balm as my lip stuff of choice, you might say that this is a bit of a change. I think my lips are stunned. They're not sure they really belong to me anymore, and I'm not sure I belong to them either. But they sure are cute.

I have a couple of reasons for trying out new lipcolor, one of which I won't tell you about so as to tease you mercilessly, and one that I'll brag about because I'm just like that. You see, I get to wear make-up tonight because I am going into the city. New York City. On a WEEKDAY. For a CONCERT. Because I am SPECIAL. And also because I am able to get off work way early, so thank you very much to my employers for that kindness.

My lips and I, whether we belong to each other anymore or not, are ready for a night on the town.

*I stole this title from Bailey White, who has a short story by that title. Because I was so rude as to steal it from her, I hope you'll balance things out by reading some of her work.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My Brother Demanded, and I am Delivering

One of the problems that many consumers face today is how to eat healthfully on a budget. I suppose it seems nearly impossible to eat more naturally without breaking the bank. That, I believe, is something we've been conditioned to believe by the food habits we've adopted as well as the cultural habits we have.

First, we live in a society that is focused on two things: immediate gratification and convenience. We have bagged salad. We have instant meals. We go to the fast food drive thru so we won't have to cook or get out of the car to get some grub. We get e-mail instead of letters, find out about the news via twenty-four-hour news channel, and can now even pause live television or save it for later at the push of a button. It's all about using time for the things we enjoy or that we deem necessary, and foregoing anything that might put a monkey wrench in the gears of our lives. We have little patience to speak of, and why should we? We can get it all now, and we don't really have to spend much time on getting it (unless we count the increased hours we spend working to afford it). I'm going to admit right here and now that when we choose to eat better, we have to throw a lot of those ideas out the window. I'm not going to be offering you a lot of low-cost, non-labor-intensive solutions.

But I will offer you things that, once you become accustomed to them, will get easier as time goes by. We have to recondition ourselves to accept that things that are better for us often take longer and may take a bit more effort than the things that are not healthy for us.

This post I'll focus mainly on snacks, though the principles can be applied to meals as well.

My number one recommendation is to eat more fruits and vegetables, and to eat these more seasonally. Things that are in season tend to be cheaper, so you can get your snacks on the cheap. While it is optimal to get organics, if conventional fruits and vegetables are what you can afford at the moment, go for that. I recommend visiting farmer's markets in the spring and summer if you have one locally, and to do some research to find produce markets with good prices that are either in your area or on your way to or from work.

The great thing about fruits and vegetables is that they are very portable and don't require refrigeration if they are used quickly. To make things easier, I wash everything and cut it into snack-sized pieces very shortly after I get it, and then I store it in plastic containers in the fridge. That way, when I am hungry for a snack, it is available immediately. When it comes to apples, oranges, and bananas, you can leave those whole in a bowl on your table so long as you'll actually eat them that way. If you're someone who needs things cut up and peeled, though, I recommend doing all that work at once and having it ready at hand. One of my favorite sweet snacks happens to be grapes, and these are easily washed and kept. I put some in the fridge so they'll keep longer, but also put some in a bowl on the counter so that it's incredibly easy to grab those as a snack instead of something else. On the vegetable side, cucumbers are a favorite around here, so I usually peel those and cut them into cucumber spears. All fruits and vegetables are easily transportable, and if you have an insulated bag you can add an ice pack to, you can even put dips in if you want. I really enjoy plain yogurt mixed with honey as a fruit dip, and low-fat sour cream with a little dill and salt mixed in tastes great on veggies. In addition, you can also look for individually packaged items like fruit cocktail and applesauce that say "unsweetened" or "in juice." Check the labels to be sure that you're only getting fruit, though, as sometimes they'll try to sneak something weird in. You should always focus on fruits and vegetables as your go-to snacks, and then if you still want a little something that's more fatty, you can eat other things in moderation.

For the higher fat, baked or fried-type snacks, I'm going to ask you to do some label reading. I want you to read every label of everything you normally buy, and if it contains hydrogenated (or partially hydrogenated) oils or high fructose corn syrup, put it back and don't buy it again. Also, if it contains anything that sounds suspiciously like something made in a lab in New Jersey, put that back as well. You'll be left with very few choices when it comes to pre-packaged foods, I know, but at least you'll know what things are good and which to pass by next time. Also, even if the label says "all natural," check the ingredients, because for some reason high fructose corn syrup is considered all natural. I have no idea why.

Now, I want you to make an inventory of the things that you normally buy that you can't anymore. Which of these things can you easily do without? Cross those off the list. Now, narrow the list further to things you can make yourself from scratch, such as cookies and brownies. Even though sugar and fat content of these items may be high, if you're making them yourself, they will be better for you than the processed varieties. I also advise making cookies smaller and cutting brownies into smaller pieces. Studies have shown that we'll eat what's in front of us, so making those just a fraction smaller can cut out a great deal of saturated fats and sugars over the long run. Also, many baked goods can be frozen and pulled out as needed. I find this handy because you can make a lot at once and have them for a long time, which saves time. When push comes to shove, I also find that Newman O's are a perfectly acceptable subsitute for other processed cookies. They may be a bit more expensive, but if you're primarily eating fruits and veggies as snacks, then you won't be spending as much on processed foods anyway, so you'll be able to afford it.

When it comes to salty snacks, there are a lot of pretzels that contain a simple list of ingredients. Look for the braided wheat kind, as those contain the most whole grains. If you are a chip-lover, there are numerous brands that are made from simple ingredients and aren't terribly expensive. My favorite are Cape Cod reduced fat potato chips, which are made from potatoes, canola oil, and salt.

The last thing I'll cover for today are beverages. I know that a lot of parents and caregivers buy juice boxes or bottles of juice cocktail. Please, please, please read those labels and choose 100% juice products. If you'd like to give it a little fizz, then buy some store brand soda water or seltzer (it should just be water and bubbles, nothing else) and mix. My favorite is pear/white grape/cranberry/seltzer, but you can experiment to find what you like best.

In my opinion, these changes can be a little difficult at first. You'll probably miss some of the foods you won't be buying any longer. You'll have to retrain your tastebuds to enjoy fresh foods as opposed to processed ones. What I've found now, though, is that I enjoy the flavor of the healthier snacks much more than the processed ones, and in some cases the processed foods have come to taste terrible to me. It takes time, but it's doable, and you'll feel much better about what you are eating and what you are offering your family to eat.

I have a lot more info to give, but I think that this is enough to start with for now. If you're interested in knowing more about natural meal preparation and getting away from fast foods (hint: you'll have to cook), feel free to drop me a line via comments and/or e-mail and I'll let you know what I'm doing currently that is working well. It's not as complicated as you might think, honest!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sometimes I Still Dream About Doughnuts

Some time ago, after reading a ton of information from a number of varied reputable sources, I decided to do what no one who has seen my snack stash of days gone by would ever think I'd do: I decided to stop eating products containing hydrogenated oils and/or high fructose corn syrup. This meant, and means, no Pringles, no Double Stuf Oreos, no Pop Tarts, no cheese danishes from my local Starbucks, and definitely NO DOUGHNUTS from any doughnut-producing retail outlet (I can make my own doughnuts). This decision came in the wake of my decision to no longer consumer artificial sweeteners, and so, I'm sure you can imagine, I can no longer lunch at convenience stores unless I'd like to have dry roasted peanuts and a water.

It's been a bit of a challenge sometimes, but it's something I believe in wholeheartedly, both for my own health and for the health of others. I watched a documentary called The Future of Food, and one of their main points was that we vote with our dollars. In my opinion, I think that our dollar votes often matter much more than our election day votes (especially since the dollar votes we make sometimes influence the votes on bills that are presented to our legislators). While I don't think it will kill you to eat one Ho-Ho every now and again, I do think that it will kill you slowly to consume that sort of food regularly. And I also think that, given proper incentive, most companies that make those processed treats that America loves will be more than willing to change their ways if it means keeping your dollars flowing into their over-flowing coffers.

After all the things I've read, particularly about hydrogenated oils, I find myself cringing a little when I see kids chowing down on processed snacks. I have this horrible mental image of what it is doing to their little bodies, and I just can't take it. (Though I'd like to take it...right out of their hands.) I know that many of you will read this and write me off as one of those obsessive weirdos, and if that's the case, okay. However, if you're at all interested in knowing more about nutrition and how processed foods affect your body and the body of your kids (or someone else's kids), I encourage you to read The Family Nutrition Book. It's a good, solid reference, with nothing hype-y about it. If you won't consider changing your eating habits for the sake of your own health, consider changing them for the health of the kids you know and love. I think we'll all be better off for it.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

You All Are SO DEMANDING

Or maybe just Anonymous and Cara are demanding. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to post a photo of my new haircut, and I'm pretending that I'm doing it for the satisfaction of the entire internet. So. Here:

new haircut

Are you happy now?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Jean Louis David Must Be French for Supercuts

I should have known something was up the moment I walked in the door and noticed that the receptionist had terrible hair and drawn on eyebrows. But I could not be stopped! I wanted a cheap haircut, and I wanted it right then! So I smiled brightly, accepted the black robe I was offered, and followed the woman I thought was the shampoo lady back for my shampoo. In heavily accented English, she simply said, "Come!" and then patted the chair she wanted me to sit in. I settled back for the wash. She hummed softly as she rubbed in the shampoo and then the conditioner. She gently rinsed with water that was exactly the right temperature. I thought, "Wow, this shampoo lady is getting a STELLAR tip from me."

And then she led me back to a chair. And sat me down. And set the order slip on the counter. And opened her mouth and said, "How you want?"

I only wish I were kidding.

I also wish I were kidding about how the stylist next to us had no customer and proceeded to sit in her chair, doing her own hair in a style straight out of 1981 and applying garish make-up.

Oh, Jean Louis David, you look so hip on the internet. I guess it's all just an elaborate facade.

Still, the haircut is not half bad. Through the miracle of hand gestures and me repeating the words long bangs at increasing levels of volume as the haircut wore on, I managed to exit the store with something vaguely resembling what I had in mind. And for $23.50 in a city where most cuts run $80 a pop? I suppose that's the best I can expect.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Dear Mr. Cell-Phone Talker and All Other Marathon Spectators Who Were Not Participating in the Actual Cheering

Last Sunday I set out with the intention of watching the elite women cross the finish line at the New York City Marathon. I figured I'd stick around for the elite men, too, and maybe even Lance Armstrong, if he was lucky. I got there early, secured a spot at the half-mile-to-go mark, and watched what was one of the most inspiring things I've ever seen. No, it wasn't the elite women, though they were good, nor was it the elite men, though I did like seeing Meb Whatever-His-Last-Name-Is go by, and it certainly wasn't Lance Armstrong, as I mostly think he's a pompous ass. It was the wheeler category people. The ones who were unable to walk, but finished the marathon just the same. I didn't really know they'd be coming in so soon, and I defininitely didn't know that there would be so few people out to cheer for them, but there they were, magnificent and mostly smiling, making it through to the end of the course. I got all choked up just watching them.

And then I got annoyed. Why is it, people of New York City, that I was the only one within earshot calling out, "Good job! Way to go! You look SO GOOD out there!" Why is it that more people commented on Lance Freaking Armstrong than on these people who were working their arms off to get to the finish? Why is it, oh Mr. Cell-Phone Talker and Morose Lady Next to Me, that both of you gave me dirty looks when I cheered, as if I were invading some hallowed silent ground? You are poor excuses for human beings, and I'll thank you both to never show up and gawk again.

As for the rest of you, I'll thank you to show up early next time and use the lungs God gave you to belt out some serious encouragement. These people deserve your attention and as much enthusiasm as you can manage. Next year, people. Set those alarms. I'll be watching for you.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

What, Don't YOU Pack Light Fixtures in Your Bag?

Last time I flew I came home to discover that the contents of my suitcase were a little disheveled. Really this didn't surprise me because I had gone into town with a suitcase full of stuff, yet come back with just a few things rattling around in the big orange mammoth that is the bag I usually check. Still, it seemed a little off. I did remember separating the dirty clothes from the clean clothes, and the shoes from the makeup. Yet here it was, all jumbled together. I know I had a lot of room in there, but things don't make it out of zippered compartments on their own. I dug further until I found what I knew I would find: the TSA card indicating that my bag had been searched for the sake of national security. Inspector 318, apparently, is thorough in his or her search, but none to careful when re-packing the items. This irks me mainly because I'm a tiny bit neurotic about the separation of the clean clothes from the dirty clothes, but also because next time my packing will be careful and precise. My travel items must be cradled just so.

So I'm making this plea now. Inspector 318, whoever you are, please pass my bag on to someone else. If you search it, I'm afraid this will never make it to Kansas City alive.

Thank you and enjoy your holidays.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Really Need to Start Remembering to Put My iPod in My Work Bag

Since I moved here in June, I've been, off and on at least (Read: when I forget my iPod), trying to find a radio station I can listen to in the car. I've found plenty of NPR stations, but I'll be honest here and say that I've no patience for listening to the news extensively, and that is what seems to be on NPR when I'm driving around. I'm looking for songs. Just songs. Good songs. Now I'll admit, there are a great many stations to choose from, what with being so close not only to NYC but also to, well, a ton of other cities (Ya'll like to keep 'em packed together over here). And yet, I still cannot find a station I can bear for more than three songs in a row. So I finally settled it by deciding to listen to what a person driving a minivan would be expected to listen to: light rock. The greatest soft hits of yesterday and today. So far this week I've forgotten my iPod, um, let's see...every single day, so that makes for three days of light, soft rock action. And here's what I think: I can take the Elton John (If you don't have a soft spot for "Tiny Dancer," you are dead to me), and some of the current soft hits are actually songs I listen to when my iPod is present, but I draw the line at two things.

1. Kenny G.

2. Those soft rock hits of the eighties in which the artist (I'm not sure I'd call them artists), tries to convince us via electric guitar solo that he is not merely a soft rock hit-maker, but is, in fact a bona fide ROCK STAR. The screeching of the guitar in the middle of what is otherwise the most boring song on the planet? Has got. To stop.

I'd rather live in silence, or, alternately, just talk to myself to fill the void.

Or listen to the news.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

How Appropriate That Today is Day Seven of NaBloPoMo

Because that's exactly how many brownies I've eaten today!

This time around, you can eat a brownie for each time I mention the word seven. Except that I don't have many things to mention that include the word seven, so here are some sevens just so you may eat more brownies: seven seven seven seven seven

I hope we're all happy now, in addition to being a bit full.

...

The thing I really don't get is why people who know how to make homemade brownies and have come to appreciate the simplicity of it ever buy boxed mix again. With a standard mix you use four components, while from scratch you use six (unless you're getting all fancy or something). America, are we really that lazy?

Oh, wait, yes, we are.

Nevermind.

Monday, November 06, 2006

This One is Courtesy of the Children

Last night I took my work cell phone out of my bag to make sure it still had a charge, since, as usual, I'd forgotten to plug it in over the weekend. Not only was it still charged, there was also a message from Franc, being all bershon. I truly wish I could play it for you here, but that would fall into Category: Violation of Family Privacy, so you'll just have to imagine an eleven-year-old girl, a middle-schooler no less, sounding equally bored and annoyed, like, "OMG, I can't believe I have to leave a message, I so totally can't be bothered." Start with an irritated sigh, and then it goes, "Mary this is Franc and I'm just wondering if you've seen my band music because I can't find it anywhere bye." (Commas left out on purpose. Bored, annoyed nearly-teenagers use no commas in their irritated drone.)

I could practically hear her eyes rolling. Obviously she had better things to do than look for her band music, such as waiting for the delightful ping that means someone sent her an e-mail, maybe a boy, and couldn't you just die because, like, Philip wrote her back about homework right away.

...

Today Alex was trying to do his homework any way other than the way he was supposed to do it, and in the meantime decided he needed to use a yardstick. Except he didn't call it a yardstick. He called it a "three feet stick."

Classic.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It's Like Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom Around Here

This afternoon I came back from a run to find twelve turkeys and five deer in my yard. I approached the house slowly so as not to scare anyone unnecessarily, and the animals just waited, watching. I stood still near the top of the driveway, just watching them. A couple of the deer stared right back at me, and the other three munched idly on the grass, while the turkeys decided they had better things to do and wandered off in the direction they'd originally been heading.

It was kind of a magical wildlife moment.

And then I opened the garage door. I'm sure you can imagine how much docile deer like noisy garage door openers.

Maybe I'll see them again tomorrow.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I'm Not a Nanny, I Just Play One at Work

I always wanted to say that.

One of the hardest things about being a nanny is accepting that there are a lot of decisions I don't get to make about the children. While some families have been open to a lot of my hare-brained ideas (I'd like to teach your children to ride the bus! Lots!), some families have their own way of doing things, and it's not the way I would do them. I recognize that I am not the parent, that I am paid money to do as someone else wishes when it comes to their children, but still, sometimes that's pretty hard to swallow. I don't often get to choose what kinds of television programs, games, and activities are good for the children. I don't always get to encourage the kind of lifestyle I think will benefit them most (though let's face it, I certainly try--does anyone remember my "Television rots your brain" campaign?). Someone else gets to do that. And that's as it should be, mostly (there are always exceptions). Parents are meant to make decisions for their children. I guess sometimes I just wish, well...that I were a little more in charge.

I was very fortunate in my last job that the kids' parents allowed me a lot of liberty with their children, and also that the children were so young when I began that I got to teach them from the beginning how I'd like them to behave. To this day I see little evidences of my hard work. They say please and thank you and excuse me. They eat their food as neatly as can be expected, using utensils instead of fingers unless its finger food. They give lots of hugs and kisses and they love all the things I taught them to love, like Starbucks and playing games on the computers at the Apple store and wandering around the bookstore like we own the place. I cut television out of our daily lives and injected a lot more free play time. We hung out in the back yard, we went around the block, we told a lot of really silly jokes. I suppose I didn't realize how carefree our days truly were until now.

trio

Man alive, I miss those little muffins.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Two by Two

Today is Day Two of NaBloPoMo, and I haven't fallen off the bandwagon yet. I'm so persistent! Two cheers for me!

So.

Two days ago I carved two pumpkins and now I have two pictures to show you. Only one is of the pumpkins I carved, but please, people, I have a theme going on here, and you should have two of everything today. Especially chocolates. In fact, every time you see the word two today, you should eat two chocolates. I require it. And now, the two pictures:

i carved these

This one is a little blurry, but I think you can see the two pumpkins. The one on the left is a goofy Frankenstein, and the one on the right is Al's design. I carved both with two kitchen knives that were ill-suited to the job, which is why the one on the right looks like it has eyelashes, even though it's not supposed to have eyelashes. No eyelashes were requested in the carving of this pumpkin. I went to way more than two stores (I wish it had only been two) to try to find a pumpkin carving kit, but when you shop for a pumpkin carving kit on Halloween, every store has already run out. Shocking, I know. So here's what I've got: two marginally well-carved pumpkins and a blurry photo to show how far I've fallen since last year's effort. Oh, well.

lining the driveway

This second one is of the pumpkins that line the driveway where I live. They are joined by many others like them, as well as two large inflatable pumpkins, some light-up pumpkins, a skeleton, a tombstone, a screaming doormat, and cardboard pumpkins in nearly every window. Yes, that's right, Halloween threw up on my house. It's quite festive. I can't wait to see what it looks like come Christmastime. I've heard it's nothing short of Chevy-Chase-style impressive.

See you on Day Three...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

In the Beginning

Once upon a time there was (and is) this crazy thing called NaNoWriMo, in which a bunch of crazy people decided they'd write a novel in a month, specifically the month of November. Because, as mentioned, they're crazy. And also maybe they wanted to get their creative juices flowing or something weird like that. I don't judge, I admire. But I haven't done it, and I won't be doing it myself, at least this year, mostly because my mind goes in eleventy billion different directions, and I simply don't feel it's wise to try to discipline myself like that right now. The results could very well be disastrous. I don't think anyone wants to witness the kind of carnage I might crank out it novel form if I tried to do it right now.

I can, however, discipline myself to crank out mindless blogging drivel every day for the entire month of November, and thus I am participating in this. NaBloPoMo! Hooray! A great many thanks to Mrs. Kennedy for putting it all together.

Because I feel that simply saying I'm participating for the very first post of the project would be cheating just a little bit, I also offer you this:

Shirt: $9.99
Trousers: $19.99
Suede Jacket: $29.99
Shoes: Who knows? They're old!
Being Mistaken for a Wealthy Suburban Housewife: Priceless. Hilarious!

Monday, October 30, 2006

I'd Like a Show of Hands, Please

Okay, first off, how many of you were delayed at least an hour and a half on your flight last night? Probably a lot of you, right? Especially if you were flying in or out of LaGuardia, I'd guess there are a lot of hands raised. Good. Not just me. Okay.

Next, how many of you then had to sit on the tarmac for an additional hour and a half once your plane had landed because of an unidentified substance found on one of your airline's other planes? Okay, I see you. A few of you. Did you see all the fire trucks? Because I saw a lot of fire trucks. Great.

All right, third, how many of you then took a not-cab (town car whose driver was trying to make a little extra cash) into the city and had a driver who assured you over and over again, "I get you there. I get you. You run, you know, hurry, when you get inside, but I get you there," and then proceeded to drive like a maniac while you closed your eyes and prayed that you'd live to see another day. Hmmmm...I'm not seeing any hands. Oh, wait, there's one in the back. Did you make your train? Good.

Finally, is there anyone else who got off the last train of the night to discover that there were no taxis at the station, and the special taxi-calling-phone-thing had been ripped out by a vandal, thus necessitating that you walk home at 2:45am in the dark, alone, past a very large cemetery?


(*crickets*)

(*lack of raised hands*)

(*still only crickets*)


Just me on that one, then?

Friday, October 27, 2006

There's a Reason My Hair Smells As If I Spend My Days Working on a Road Construction Crew

Do you know what the T in Neutrogena's T/Gel stands for? Go ahed and guess. But don't look down until you're done guessing, because I'm telling you the answer down there.

It stands for tar. Coal tar. Point five percent, it says, and below it not only does it say that one should contact poison control immediately if it's swallowed, but also that it is known to cause cancer in the State of California.

Does that mean if I'm washing my hair with it in Connecticut, I'll be okay?

But of course I went ahead and used it, keeping my lips clamped tightly together so as not to let the smallest bit enter my mouth and be accidentally swallowed. I'd hate to call poison control for that one. "Um, yeah, so I had a small case of dandruff that I wanted to get rid of before a wedding? And I bought this shampoo without really reading the label? And it has coal tar in it, right? But I used it anyway because I was desperate? Because the dress I'm wearing to my friend's wedding is black, and, you know, dandruff flakes on black aren't pretty? And I didn't have time to go get something else? Right, so, do you think if I accidentally got a few coal tar shampoo bubbles in my mouth, I need to do something about it?" Not only will they wonder why I'm using inflection to make every statement sound like an individual question, but they'll come to the conclusion that I'm not very bright.

Really, I'm sometimes not very bright. I feel you should know this if you haven't figured it out already. High IQ does not equal good common sense, and it's about time we all came to terms with that.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

It All Starts to Make Sense

When I was a teenager and in my early twenties, I went on several trips with Teen Missions, and while there are things now that I look back on and find a bit troubling about it, I think that by and large it did me a world of good, and it introduced me to other lands and cultures that I never would have otherwise seen.

As part of our training, we attended not only construction and evangelism classes, but also what boiled down to being inspirational speeches about the life of whomever was speaking. One of the founders of the organization gave a speech every year about where he'd been and what he'd done previously in his life that didn't seem at all to fit together, but suddenly came together brilliantly when he started Teen Missions. All those little things that seemed unrelated came together like puzzle pieces, and there he was, sending thousands of teenagers overseas and knowing exactly how to do it. Which is pretty remarkable when you think of just what it takes to teach thousands of teenagers and their adult leaders how to travel together and go build something substantial that will hold up for years after they've left.

So this morning I got into the car with Al, and when we got to school he realized that he'd forgotten his playground ball, which is the ball he brings every day, which is what he plays with at recess, which is, to him, the most important thing EVER EVER EVER. When he lamented that he'd left it at home, I sympathized, but didn't offer to go get it for him. I told him that it was not the end of the world, that he could play something else today, that I would be sure that he remembers it tomorrow. He wasn't buying it. He demanded that I go home and get it and why couldn't I just go home and get it and he was not moving from the car until I agreed to go home and get it and I'd better go get it. He kicked my chair for effect, because we all know that kicking someone's seat is an excellent way to convince that person to go out of their way to do something nice for you. I restated my position, that it was not the end of the world, that I'd like him to learn to accept when things don't go exactly the way he'd like them to, that it would be fine for him to spend one day without his ball, and that if he didn't go into school, I'd have to take him in.

He still didn't budge, except to kick me in the arm, which resulted in me moving in a way that caused my tea to spill all over may lap, making it look as if I'd wet myself. I calmly fished a napkin out of my handbag, sopped up what I could, turned around slowly, and let him know what the consequence of that particular transgression would be.

And then, folks, I got out of the car.

Looking liked I'd wet myself.

Refusing to give in.

Making good on my promise to carry him into his classroom if it came to that.

Because, by golly, I want him to know that I expect good things of him, that I mean what I say, that I do indeed want him to learn to calm down when something small goes wrong. That I want him to live a life that is not filled with anger and angst and negative consequences. And I believe that the best way to do that is to start small, to teach him one situation at a time how to better handle himself.

I was ready, and I was willing, and I was not backing down no matter what. He caught the look in my eye, the one that means business, and he bolted from the car to his classroom.

I always wonder what all those years of being stubbornly awkward and learning not to be scared of looking foolish were all about. I guess now I'm beginning to know.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I Taught My Mom to Jaywalk, and She Didn't Get Run Over Once

I tried to show her a New York drug deal, but that was a little too subtle. I had to just point out the drug dealer after the deal, when he was ducking into Burger King.

Come to New York! I'll show you the good stuff AND help you learn to break the law without injury!

In addition to the drug dealer sighting and the jaywalking, we also managed Times Square, Macy's, Ground Zero, Battery Park, Chrysler Building, Empire State Building, St. Paul's, Trinity Cathedral, Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn (not the whole thing, of course, just the part you get to when you walk over the bridge), Upper West Side, Central Park, Fort Tryon Park, The Cloisters, a plethora of subway trains and stations, and a lot of other places that I said, "Hey, look at that! I don't know what it is, but later we'll find out so you can tell people you saw it!" I am, obviously, an excellent tour guide.

Good thing I have a really good map.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Laundry List

Next week sometime a new hot water heater is being installed. The kids' dad told me about it, and that we would be without water when it happens. He started brainstorming about having buckets of water around for washing hands and brushing teeth and cooking and whatnot. It was like he was planning for the apocalypse. However, the whole installation only takes five hours. Shouldn't we all just go hang out at Starbucks then?

...

Al is obsessed with the forbidden fruits of childhood; in the beginning, it was just movies with strict ratings that fascinated him so, but now curse words are right up there on the list. I'm not so fond of him trying to find ways to say curse words without really saying them, or of the fact that he looked up the F word in the dictionary at school, but I do love it when he says the phrase "strong sexual content," simply because he has no clue what it means.

...

Someone asked me in the comments section a long time ago how I trained to run Pikes Peak while living at sea level, and I never answered, mostly because between the actual marathon and then I had already resumed being a total lazyass. But today I have a small burst of energy, so I'll go ahead and answer now, when that guy probably isn't even reading anymore. The answer is that you run. A lot. There's a lot of running. I personally chose a training program that was meant for a fifty mile flatland ultra marathon. I'd look it up for you and provide a link, but oops, back to my usual lazyass ways. You can use google, right? Or that handy search box on runnersworld.com?

...

Speaking of Pikes Peak, there's finally a photo set of my Pikes Peak vacation right over here. Considering how late the last vacation photos were, I'm giving myself a pat on the back for getting these done and posted just two months after the trip.

...

Franc played piano in a band concert last night at her school, and she got the song (as played by professionals, not by sixth graders) on iTunes. She now has it on repeat. It is the most annoying song ever. I'm just sayin'.

...

My mom is coming in for the weekend. I guess I should make up a bed for her or something. (Or you could make one up. What does it look like? Canopy? Sleigh bed? Pillow-top mattress?) I'll take a lot of photos in the city, as usual. According to my most recent photo processing schedule, you can expect those in about two months.

...

Happy Weekend, Y'all.

Monday, October 16, 2006

I Think It's Obvious What My Next Career Should Be

It's a niche market that's not been filled. The squirrel population is hungry for quality portraiture, and I am here to give it to them. Look at that little guy (girl?) on the right. He (she?) has never had a quality portrait done before, and it is a tragedy. All those nut gatherings, all the company picnics, all the family reunions...and nothing to show his (her?) friends and family. Well, no more. I am here to help.

I'm also maybe a bit off my rocker. But the squirrel is cute, no?

This weekend I ventured out with Allison to visit The Cloisters, which is located in Fort Tryon Park. If you ever have the chance to visit, I highly recommend hopping on the A train and getting settled for the long ride up to 190th. Both the park and the museum are stunning, and you won't be sorry you spent the time and the two dollars to get there.

Autumn in New England is a beautiful season. The trees are beginning to blaze brilliant reds and oranges, but there's still plenty of green mixed in. I'm enjoying running near the water more than ever. I've never been in a place that had distinct seasons and and ocean nearby. I hope winter here is just as lovely.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Sometimes I Get Discouraged, and I Get Grey Hairs from Worry

I've found four so far.

I try my best to chill out about it, but it's harder here. Yesterday I forgot to clear out Al's backpack, and when I went down this morning to do it, it had been done already. Last time I forgot, I got a note saying that it's very important that I make sure to take care of this. So I left my own note today saying that I did come down to take care of it when I realized I'd neglected it, but I will worry all weekend anyway that they are displeased. I can't seem to help it, like I can't seem to help forgetting some small things from time to time because here there is so very much to remember, to keep up with, to keep track of.

I don't want to criticize the family. I understand that things are different here, that their lives and their children's lives are much busier than other families I've worked for, and that it is, in fact, my job to keep on top of things. Whereas in the past the parents had enough free time to deal with things fairly easily if I forgot something, this family has a lot less time.

I wish I could be the girl that remembers every single thing every time, but I'm not her. I'm just the girl who's about to go make an addition to the list of things to make sure she's done by the end of the day.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I'm Just a Big GIVER-UPPER, That's What I Am

However, it does work to my advantage, and to the advantage of others, so it's really a positive thing. Even though you wouldn't know that by the way Al said it after I told him that having him "teach" me how to throw a baseball was quite enough, and I'll thank him to lay off trying to teach me to throw a football. "You're such a GIVER-UPPER, Mary. Why do you have to be like that?"

"Oh," I replied, "you mean why do I have to be the same way you're being about your golf class? Just not doing it because I don't want to and it's not super easy for me?"

Guess who's agreed to go back to golf class if I'll let him teach me how to throw a football.

Yes, I know exactly what I'm up to. Stand back, people, I'm a professional.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Kissing and Other Things You Can't Do Via Webcam

Shortly before we gathered our belongings and headed for Grand Central, Jarod and I shared a meal at a place called Niko's, where the food is good, but the service is terrible, and to make all things even they give you ouzo and little pieces of what appears to be cornbread soaked in syrup for dessert. On the house, of course. Sorry we forgot about your order and didn't refill your water. Seated at the table behind Jarod were two people discussing opera. One of them, a woman, works at The Met, and the other sings, I guess. It was hard to tell just what he does with all the chatter about what he'll do when he's famous and what he'll tell about Julliard and The Met and all those places people think are so great and how he'll decry the utter lack of artistic freedom or something. At one point the conversation took a turn from how opera singers are prima donnas (Um, duh? Born yesterday, were we?) to the recent engagement of someone they both know. Apparently the couple had taken their relationship long distance between Pittsburg and New York City (Oh, NO! Those cities are so VERY FAR AWAY FROM EACH OTHER!) and were keeping in contact mainly by phone. Upon speculating about the future of the couple, the guy remarked sarcastically, "They've talked on the phone a lot, so they know each other so well." I was quite tempted to walk over to their table and ask if they think that with the addition of a webcam, it can last. Because otherwise, oops, we're totally screwed.

...

I'd say that overall the weekend was perfect. We did some touristy things (walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, went up to the observation deck of the Empire State Building) and some not-so-touristy things (sat around in parks, watched DVDs). We got a late night meal on Columbus Avenue and saw someone famous there. We shared that same meal with a guy named Shorty who pays ten dollars a night in rent and begs for food. He ordered pasta and ginger ale and took a bunch of the pasta home. Said it's the worst thing ever when you get home and you're hungry and there's nothing there to eat. I quite agree, and I'm glad he ordered something big. I'm also glad he wanted to sit and eat with us; that was a definite bonus.

...

I've been thinking about that sort of thing a lot, about how we feed the hungry. I think that sometimes we can be a little bit self-congratulatory about it, but I really think it's supposed to be something we just do, that's, well, normal to do. Someone wants food, so you invite them to eat with you. It's simple, and it feels good, and it IS good, just sharing that meal, having a guest at your table, wherever that table might be. I don't think it should be something that gives us a lot of pause. I think the thing that should give us pause (and it almost always does now, for me, it gives me a twinge, really) is walking past when someone needs something or saying whatever our usual line is (Mine's, "I don't have any extra cash today." Really? What's that card in your wallet, ma'am?).

So. There's that.

...

I hope that everyone out there had as satisfying a weekend as I did. There are photos of mine on flickr, though not many just yet. Look for more over the next couple of days, all right?

All. Right.

Monday, October 09, 2006

It Was Only, Like, the FUNNEST WEEKEND EVER

But I won't prove it to you. You're going to have to trust me on this one.

aren't we cute?

He had to go home all too soon.

(More to come when I'm not busy brushing my teeth.)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

About to Enter the Last Year in His Twenties

And I'm not even there to tease him about it.

My wonderful boyfriend turns twenty-nine today. I sent him the ultimate romantic gift, a plane ticket to see me, via e-mail because I believe that wrapping something up all special makes the person feel much more special. Also, I made it a surprise way back in, like, June or July or something by saying, "I want to buy you a plane ticket for your birthday. Is that okay? When can you come?" The special times, they just never end.

Please join me in wishing Jarod a very happy (and very special) birthday.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Because, That's Why, Just BECAUSE

Tonight on our way back from swim practice, Al asked, "Mary, is B-I-T-C-H a curse word?"

"Yes," I replied, foolishly thinking that would be the end of it.

"But why? What does it mean?"

"It means a really mean lady." (Also a female dog, but I didn't want to add to the dilemma and make a way that he could say it and then go, "But I meant it in the female dog way." We already have that covered with the word damn, thankyouverymuch.)

"Okay, but why is it a curse word?"

"Well, some words are stronger language than other words, and that makes them curse words."

"Yeah, but WHYYYYYYY??? What makes them stronger language? Why are they curse words and other words aren't?"

Honestly? I don't really know.

Questions: 1
Mary: 0

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Oh, Dear, I Mean, Oh NO, I Mean...

...Is this really necessary or appropriate? By the time I reached this item, I was laughing so hard I snorted. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think any of these products would inspire me to abstinence if I were otherwise inclined.

(Link via mimi smartypants.)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Reasons to Love Jamie Cullum


about to jump off the piano
Originally uploaded by marymuses.
1. Excellent musician.
2. Hosts perfect onstage dance parties.
3. Has a cat.
5. Doesn't smell bad up close, even after getting nice and sweaty.
6. Consistently fantastic shows.

Despite feeling a little bit craptastic yesterday (I'll try Hay Fever and Scratched Cornea for $500, Alex.), I made my way to New Haven to see Jamie Cullum up close and personal. I thought that "up close and personal" meant "from the seventh row," which is certainly up close and personal enough for a girl who usually ends up sitting at the back, but little did I know I was about to get a whole lot more up close and personal. At the end of the show, Jamie invited everyone up on the huge stage to dance, so I slid on up there to join the crew. At one point I lost sight of where Jamie was, only to look over and discover he was right next to me. Right. Next. To ME!

That was pretty much the raddest thing that's ever happened to me at a concert.

(I just said "raddest." You may commence chuckling at my expense now.)

Friday, September 29, 2006

I Hereby Declare My Disapproval of Skinny Jeans on Nearly Everyone

I mean, really, is it necessary to relive the eighties except at parties making a bit of fun at the utter ridiculousness of eighties fashions? I'll go ahead and answer that for you so you won't have to think about it for long: No, it is not necessary.

Also not necessary (or advisable):

*feverishly honking at someone to go ahead and turn left when turning left at that moment would mean that they'd be creamed by a very large bus

*wiping your mouth and snotty nose on the towel I use to dry dishes

*eating Doritos

*using a hands free cell phone device while fiddling with things that crackle and crinkle (good grief! my ears! stoppit!)

*creating a crisis because you are bored

*never restocking the banana crisps

*most mushrooms

*mosquitoes

*arranging a dead raccoon by the side of the road so it looks like it's sleeping (we all know it didn't die in that position, you sicko)

*nearly all songs by the following: Lenny Kravitz, Tom Petty, and The Cranberries

Feel free to add to the list via the comments section.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Also Good for Clearing the Nasal Passages

Essential Oils: Good for everything. Feel free to use that one, essential oil salespeople.

I've discovered that on Thursday evenings, I really have no patience for any television show besides Grey's Anatomy. Sorry, other shows, new shows, old shows that might be good, but how would I know? I can't stand you. You sicken me with your not-Grey's-Anatomy-ness. Go find another day of the week. I'm through with you.

(Tuesdays happen to be wide open, by the way.)

(I'm just sayin'.)

P.S. I'm seeing Jamie Cullum Sunday night. Are you getting excited for me yet?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wednesday Morning: Shaping Up Just Fine

One of the things about this job that has taken some getting used to is the fact that there is a parent in the home nearly all the time. It's not that I mind parents knowing what's going on when I'm here, but I will admit to working better alone. I just feel more peaceful that way. I get things done more expediently. There's less stress. I plan how the day will go, and in general it goes that way. Whatever needs to be done, I get done, but on my own schedule. That's the way I like it, and that's how I've had it in the past. But now is not the past, it is now and it is different, and so: I adjust. I take a deep breath at the beginning of the day and just dive in. When an errand is needed in the middle of the day, I do it willingly. If the kids' dad decides that now is a good time to organize the basement and garage, now is when I do it. For all practical purposes, I have a manager on the premises, a direct supervisor, and sometimes he comes up with things for me to do that throw my day completely off its carefully planned track. It's kind of weird for me. I'm doing okay, but it's not my favorite part of the job.

Today, however, the kids' dad is gone to a funeral, and I am left to my own devices. I have a list of things to accomplish, and I've got a good sense of how my day will play out. I'm having some tea and I'm going to go for a run. I'm going to get the errands done in the most efficient manner possible. I'm going to have a leisurely lunch. It will be a good day.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Skip's in the Back

Earlier this week (at least, I think it was this week), I was sent to pick up a model train engine that had been repaired at a hobby shop a couple of towns over. I located the place easily enough, walked in, and looked around. There were two people, a man and a woman, directly in front of me, conversing. They both sort of glanced at me, but just kept talking. So I just...stood there. Finally the woman of the pair, looking at me as if I were a mangy dog that should be banished from her untidy shop, asked, "Can I HELP you?" I stammered out something about being there to pick up the train and she blurted, "Skip's in the back, " before physically turning away from me, the customer, and continuing her conversation. I figured I'd better just find my own way through the shop to Skip and "the back," because she obviously couldn't be bothered by further inquiries.

All that to say that next time I don't want to be bothered by someone who wants something from me and I don't feel like doing anything about it, I'm just going to say, "Skip's in the back."

...

It's been a long week.

...

I wish I had the energy to tell you more, but PLEASE, people, Skip's in the back.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

And Then I Had a Shopping Epiphany

For what seems like most of my adult life I have, like many other women, been searching for the ever-elusive Perfect Pair of Jeans. Perfect fit, perfect style, perfect tone, perfect fabric weight, perfect amount of stretch (very little, yet still a bit). Low waist, but not too low, fitted through the hip, but NOT through the thigh, a tiny bit of flare at the bottom, but it shouldn't be obvious, because the denim should not cling to my thigh all the way to my knee, thus making the flare at the bottom look positively enormous. I found one pair that I love (in the present tense as I am wearing them this very minute), but alas, they were a seasonal jean made by The Gap, and not really a jean at that. They were more like...trousers made of denim.

Oh. OOOOOH. The difficulty, apparently, was not a product difficulty, but a semantic one.

Search for the Perfect Jeans: Officially Over.

Search for the Perfect Denim Trousers: Only Just Begun.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Bits of Nothing

1. My chicken roaster shaped like a chicken arrived in Kansas City today, and I saw it via webcam. It's enormous.

2. I've been doing my best to blog every single day, as an exercise of sorts, and so far it's not working out that well.

3. The reason it's not working out so well is that I can't always tell you exactly what I want to tell you. It's hard to be honest and open when it's not just my own life I'm writing about. I feel a lot of quality things I'd like to say slip away because of this, but there's not much I can do about it.

4. I wish I had more time. I'd take an extra four hours a day, optimally, but really even one would be fine.

5. It's a lot different here than I thought it would be, and sometimes that's incredibly hard.

6. It would be really nice if I could elaborate on that, but it's not advisable.

7. I'd like to become better and better at being completely and utterly vague.

8. I think I've made a good start on that vague thing, don't you?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I Always Feel Really Awkward Telling People That I Haven't Made Any Friends Here Yet

And also that I'm not bothered by it one bit until someone asks me and I feel the weight of their expectations hanging over me. While I might like to hang out with someone from time to time, as of yet I haven't felt a lack of company. I don't feel the need to go out and make a lot of new friends. I've got plenty on my plate, and meeting and getting to know people who are currently strangers is not high on my priority list. So here's what I've got, as an answer to all those people who suggest the many and varied ways I might meet people here:

I like talking to people I already know on the phone. I like seeing Jarod on the webcam. I like the idle chitchat with grocery clerks and Starbucks employees. And though it might not seem quite right for everyone, I very much like spending time alone. Because of the nature of my job and living situation I am very rarely truly alone. Someone is almost always just a couple of walls away. I need time to myself as much as I need time interacting with people I know and love. So it's okay with me to have the end of the day wide open. It's okay with me to take the train by myself into the city. It's okay with me when everyone leaves the house and it is peaceful and quiet and empty.

Someday it might not be enough to talk on the phone, to sign on to iChat, to chat a bit when I'm in the store. When that day comes, I'll be a little more proactive in meeting new people. For now, though, what I've got is just right.

Except for one thing: I do miss all the friends who are far away. I most certainly miss you all.