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.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hey, Remember That One Time?

You know, that time I went on vacation, like back in, you know, March? And remember that one time that I told you I'd make you a photo set from the trip? And I said I'd do it kind of soon, which really meant that I'd probably get around to it about six months later?

Hey, GUESS WHAT?!?

Brad Pitt is the New Kevin Costner

I never have thought that Brad Pitt is as much of a Hottie McSteamerton as most girls do, but I did, at least, have some respect for him as an actor. (Some, I say. Some.) He was good in Legends of the Fall, and I found him to be amusing in Ocean's Eleven. He had some talent. (Again, the keyword is some.) Now, just like our old buddy Kevin, Brad Pitt has fallen into the trap of acting the same way in every film, for every character, even if the characters are wildly different. He kind of, um, sucks now. I barely find him to be tolerable.

Imagine my dismay, if you will, when the a preview of a movie featuring Kevin Costner and Ashton "Also Annoying" Kutcher preceded a preview of one featuring Brad Pitt, and then was followed by one featuring both Cameron "Typecast" Diaz and Jude "I'm a Philanderer But Women Still Find Me Attractive" Law.

I nearly cried.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Good Things

1. I bought the chicken roaster shaped like a chicken. My mom told me to. Blame her. Or thank her, because once I have a kitchen to cook in, I will be making the most delicious chicken in my chicken roaster shaped like a chicken, and maybe I'll invite you over for dinner.

2. It's a rainy day here, and every place I go has been less busy than usual.

3. The staff at the grocery store and at Starbucks are beginning to recognize me. I like that.

4. I bought ingredients to make homemade brownies.

5. I'll be the only one here this weekend, so I'll be the only one eating those brownies.

6. I received Kim Taylor's new record, I Feel Like a Fading Light, in the mail yesterday. It's fantastic.

7. This photo has been selected to be included in an exhibit about race at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul. The exhibit (and thus, my photo) will then travel the US for five to seven years.

8. After a few pitiful attempts and followed by some cheating, I can now do tangrams all by myself.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Sometimes I Just Sit Here, Waiting for the Brilliance to Come to Me

And sometimes I just start telling you about how tempted I am to buy a chicken roaster that's shaped like a chicken. Don't y'all go buying them all up because I need a few days to decide what my plan is. So far I've come up with an A, B, and C.

Plan A:
Just buy the chicken roaster shaped like a chicken.

Plan B:
Convince someone else to buy me a chicken roaster shaped like a chicken. (You know, like for Christmas!)

Plan C:
Live a meaningless life completely void of chicken roasters shaped like chickens.

Which do you think I should choose?

...

I just tried to start a new topic, (see the dot dot dot) (otherwise known as an ellipsis) but I can't think of anything other than that chicken roaster shaped like a chicken and how it's on a fabulous sale but I still shouldn't probably buy it but I might anyway if no one stops me by instituting Plan B.

So here's what I'm going to do: (I tell you this not because it's a plan, but because I know how I get) I'm going to go put it in my virtual cart over and over and over again, each time leaving the site because, even though it is at a fantastic discount, I still feel bad spending money on a chicken roaster shaped like a chicken when I don't even have my own kitchen right now.

Even though I would totally use it and love it and caress it each night before bed once I have my own kitchen again.

Wait, that doesn't sound right.

I meant to say: Even though I would totally use it and love it and wash it gently every night before...

Oh, forget it. Nevermind. Just don't buy up all the chicken roasters.

Unless, of course, you're buying one for me.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I Fought AT&T, and I'm Pretty Sure I'm Actually Winning This Time

This is not thanks to AT&T, whose billing system is ridiculous; rather, it is thanks to a customer service rep named Charisma who knew without having to think too hard that the reason the adjustment never went through is because adjustments on closed accounts have to be done manually. An automatic adjustment can be made again and again, but if the account it closed, it won't work. Is this revenge on customers who have the audacity to close their accounts and use another service or no land line service at all? I don't know. But I'm guessing that AT&T has collected a great deal of money that wasn't due them, as well as left undeserved blemishes on credit reports across the nation.

I'll be getting the money that's due me, and I am grateful, but I'm still considering mentioning the issue to someone I know who just so happens to specialize in class action litigation. Most likely, there are a lot of folks out there that would love to descend on AT&T en masse and get their freaking money back.

I'll let you know when the check arrives. (It's in the mail, of course.)

I Drank the Kool-Aid


i drank the kool-aid
Originally uploaded by marymuses.
And furthermore, I liked it. I guess I'm done for now. Do you know how many lip balms they sell at Sephora?

They sell a whole lot of lip balms.

I'm just sayin'.

If you need me, I'll be at Sephora, drinking some more of that delicious Kool-Aid.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

And the Whole Internet Shall Know of My Disgruntledness, and How AT&T Has Wronged Me

On June 1, my Southwestern Bell SBC AT&T account was disconnected due to my move. This disconnect included both a land line and DSL service. While the land line disconnect and billing was correct, DSL continued to charge me for service for the entire month of June. When I received the incorrect bill, I called Southwestern Bell SBC AT&T to clear it up. The regular billing department transferred me to the DSL billing department because, how convenient, though both charges appear on the same bill, they are made by completely separate departments, and normal billing cannot correct DSL errors. The DSL rep assured me it would be adjusted and the adjustments sent to the regular billing department.

Over the summer, I received four more bills claiming I owe $18.64, even though with the appropriate credit, Southwestern Bell SBC AT&T actually owes me something like $11.50. Each time I received an incorrect bill, I called and was assured that it was cleared up. I was all nice, like, "Oh! Great! Thanks for everything!" Only to be sent yet another collection letter.

Today I received a collection letter from a collections service, not just plain Southwestern Bell SBC AT&T. Oh, well, GREAT. I called Southwestern Bell SBC AT&T up straightaway to sort it out. I spoke to a competent customer service rep who pulled the bill out of collections and connected me to the DSL department because, guess what? She couldn't take care of the problem herself. It's still DSL's problem! Big surprise!She instructed me to hold until DSL picked up so I could clear up the problem with them.

I just got off the phone after being on hold for three hours. No one in DSL ever picked up.

I am livid. AT&T will be hearing--a LOT--from me.

Friday, September 08, 2006

I Don't Miss This


sum-sum-sum-sum-summertime
Originally uploaded by marymuses.
All summer the kids and I spent most of our days at a club on the sound. It was fine, but I never loved it. I'd much prefer to see Central Park in autumn.

For more photos from my phone, feel free to visit me on flickr. After a summer of refusing to send photos to my e-mail (Error! Would you like to try again?), the phone finally decided to end the standoff and let me have my way with it. Enjoy.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Once Upon a Time

A long, long time ago, like in January of 2002, I started blogging in a place that was a different place than here. Some of you knew, and know about it, and some of you didn't and don't. When I switched over to blogger, I stopped writing there for a time, but ultimately returned, thinking that most of my readership had made the switch, and so I could write more personal things there without the masses (right, masses, masses of ten) catching my most personal published thoughts. It afforded me the freedom to write more honestly without feeling like I was being watched, as if my whole family would drop by and find out just what I was thinking or feeling or doing. And out of that freedom came some of the best things I've written. Though I still don't want everyone and their mother to read everything I have there, I think there are some valuable pieces that I could feel comfortable putting here.

In talking to people over the past year, I've come to the conclusion that crazy isn't what we think it is, that most of us feel a lot of things in common, but are afraid to say them out loud and risk being labeled as something less than normal. But I'd guess that a good many of the things we think and feel, the ways we are compelled to act sometimes, the direction our thoughts go even though we wish they wouldn't, are common to most people. And so, here we go. It's been a long time since I've gotten down and gotten personal here, but I'm ready to take that leap. I think it will be good for all of us.

This excerpt is from last summer, when I was still reeling from a terrible break-up, attending therapy, sorting through issues I'd needed to sort through for years, and trying to decide what else to do to get better. I do want to emphasize that the choice I made about medication is a not a choice that I feel is appropriate for all situations. In this instance, I followed my heart, and it turned out well. Sitting here a year later, I am glad I made the choice I did. I am all the better for working through the pain I felt at that time, for accepting what was and moving on when it was time, and not before then. And so, here it is:

When I had just received some bad news, I sat in Tim and Julianna's living room, watching Felicity and knitting with Julianna. The simple movements of knitting hands soothed me somehow. Tim filmed us knitting that night, and my hands, working steadily, ended up in his film Ordinary Time.

Tim made the film to be shown as part of a worship service focused on the liturgical season of ordinary time--a broad swatch of green on the liturgical calendar, the biggest part of the church year. It stretches from Easter to Advent, colored green for growth, but with little indicating activity of any kind in its days. They are days of living, of breathing, of acting out the lives we live with little fanfare. It is a long and beautiful season.

For a long time, I had trouble with liturgy, with understanding its place in Christian life. I don't know how my transition has progressed, exactly, but that I sat in a lot of old churches and felt the holiness and quiet of times of old. I thought of all those believers over two thousand years celebrating and inhabiting these seasons and understood that they are part of my family as much as those who stand with me today are. I looked into the eyes of a portrait and found someone staring back out at me with kind eyes, and knew that we have the same redeemed heart, even though he lived long before I did. Suddenly liturgy made sense to me, both as a way to approach God and as a way to connect to the parts of the body of Christ that have come before me.

And so we find ourselves in ordinary time. We lean into it and wonder what to do, how to live, what will happen. We get up every morning and we brush our teeth and put on shoes and we live. Some of us work, some of us play, some of us study, some of us recreate. In the evenings, during slow times of the day, while I am working extra jobs, I knit.

On Thursday night I was called to a family's home to take care of their three children. Due to a water disaster, their first floor had been cleared of all furniture in preparation for the installation of new flooring. The kids had tired of the basement and their bedrooms, so they brought a plain box and various toys up in order to play in the empty living room. I sat on the floor, leaning against the wall, and knitted while they played some sort of transportation game. It was slow, and quiet, and peaceful. And I was sad.

I watched the children, so beautiful, through tired eyes, and I contemplated my current dilemma. I'd made arrangements for next Wednesday morning to see a doctor about anti-depressants, to explore that option, and I was uncomfortable with it, but still unsure of what to do. As my knitting needles moved back and forth, I began to think of life and ordinary time and what it is we search for. In America I think it is continual happiness that we seek, much to our detriment.

Nowhere else in the world that I know of do people fear sadness so much; nowhere are they so awkward with the more difficult seasons of life. We treat sadness as if it's a room in the house that should be kept shut most times, that should never be inhabited, only passed through and shut again. But what if we've got it all wrong? What if we were meant to inhabit that room sometimes, to sit in it and move in it and live in it, to see what's inside and what it has to teach us? What if that room is meant to be lived in just as much as any other, and not to be feared, but rather revered? What if it is meant not to be escaped, but to be left when the time is right? What if there is peace to be found in that room that is unlike any other?

As I sat on the floor that night, I became comfortable with my sadness. My heart understood it as something good, and the struggle ceased. I knew the answer then to the question of where I would be Wednesday morning: I would be with Mary Liz, having our regular visit to the Plaza, living out my life in ordinary time.

2005-08-28 - 11:26 a.m.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I Was Going to Slow Down, You See

But then the dog got sick and required a special diet and then the stains wouldn't come out of the kids' laundry and then there were forms sprung upon me and errands to be done and meals to be cooked and a multitude of tiny tasks to attend to and I just never managed.

I did wash my sheets and towels, though, so that's good.

Also I went running, so that's good, too.

At least, I think it's good. In my mind. My body is not so sure about that.

Sunday marked two weeks since Pikes Peak, which meant one thing: It was time to get my sorry self back out the door in running shoes. Now there are some people who, after their break from running, claim that they just can't wait and it feels so good and their bodies just love it. My body, on the other hand, feels my feet hit the driveway and goes, "Say WHAT??" My body suspects that those other people are lying, just like it suspects that many of the non-runners who say they don't run because they have bad knees are lying. (We'd like to believe you, my body and I, but what we really want to see is medical proof. Like an MRI and a doctor's note.) So I'm going to just fess up and admit that it's haaarrrrrrd. It just is. Getting going again after I've been off for awhile, much like getting started at all, is a challenge, and it hurts. The only part that feels good is when I'm done and can revel in the pleasure that is eating M&M's for lunch without guilt. (Though today I had a turkey sandwich. With sprouts! I should get quadruple nutrition points and a gold star for that one.) Eventually it will feel good again. That whole runner's high deal is not a myth, and runner's high or no, there are days that are simply good running days, days that I feel like I fly down every hill, like I never want to stop running. I keep running so I can find those days.

And also so I can still fit into my pants.