Thursday, December 30, 2010

The trials and tribulations of my commute

Alright, so... it's a miracle I'm alive today. I mean, in more than just the usual "every life is a miracle" type way. It's a miracle that I survived the drive to work. So there I was, driving to work, cruising along 75 at slightly above the speed limit thanks to a spectacular lack of slow-causing traffic. Then, I noticed something pop into view. It was in the middle of my windshield, but I was having a hard time focusing on it. Probably because I was looking through the windshield and not at it. Once my eyes focused, I realized the awful truth.

A spider had come down from my sun-visor-shade-thingy and was now dangling by its silk right in front of my face.

Alright, let's back up a minute to discuss the severity of the situation.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Quantifiable Data, Specificity and the rest of the stuff I think and feel

I really enjoy Pandora, and if you haven't checked them out yet, I highly recommend you do. The people behind the Music Genome Project did an incredible thing, that iTunes then imitated with their Genius mixes, etc. and it all boils down to this: it's like having a friend who knows more music than you ever thought it possible for one human to know, and he kinda knows you, and when you tell him what you like, he makes recommendations for you... only he's slightly more accurate in predicting your tastes than the guy who set you up on a blind date with his buddy back in '92. Most of the time, I'm able to create great stations from a single song or artist with minimal futzing. I get excited when somewhat obscure songs that I've liked for years get played along with pop gems and then I hear something I've never heard before and go off on a discovery tour of new music.

Sometimes, you get bizarre songs that you not only don't like, but can't figure out how you got from A to B. That's part of the problem with not being able to accurately identify things that are intangible. See, last week, I was in a mood. Not a bad mood, not a good mood, just a moody mood. I kept flipping through the stations that I had created* trying to find something that would fit. I didn't want my 80s Mix, Perky Dance, Glee-ful, Mr. Mister, Mellow, Grrrl Music, Tarlowski or Classic Christmas Carols. I couldn't even piece together what I wanted by using the QuickMix feature, which is awesome in that it lets you sort of shuffle lots of stations together.

So I started a new station. That wasn't really working very well either. I finally figured out that the problem wasn't that Pandora wasn't playing songs that I liked, but that I hadn't correctly defined what I wanted to listen to. Once I did that, I identified other problems.
What I wanted to listen to was moody songs, but Pandora doesn't really know what my moody songs are, and the list I came up with off the top of my head was musically diverse enough to be confusing. Fiona Apple, Terrence Trent D'Arby and Alkaline Trio have little in common musically for the Music Genome Project to draw on. The common element that caused them to be included in the seed songs was the way they make me feel. Luckily, the Music Genome Project looks at more than just the easily quantifiable data. The list of attributes identified includes objective observations like "Electric Guitar Solo" and somewhat subjective labels like "funky raps." Unfortunately, even with their comprehensive view of music and sounds, they can't accurately pinpoint all the things that make us like music. When creating a station, I want to be able to look at the list of attributes and put the ones I want into a list, in addition to picking the songs that are inspiring me.

However, the things that I'm thinking about aren't often on the list. There isn't an option for "bass lines that make me want to drive faster" or "guitar solos that sound awesome when you try to sing them" or "mopey girl songs" or "songs that remind me of that guy that I should probably never talk to again because I seem to lose my mind, my cool, and any semblance of independent thought whenever he's around." There's not even something as simple and quantifiable as "songs written or released in this decade". Best I can figure, I just have to put enough of the right songs in, and not be afraid to use the thumbs-down button to tell Pandora that what I'm looking for is different, even though that song has "mystical qualities" and "passionate atmosphere" and so did the last song I thumbed-up. I don't share the same vocabulary as the Music Genome Project to know that what I consider "joyful lyrics" is the same as their definition of "joyful."

I suppose you could take this to the nth degree and say that in the extreme we can't say that we ever know that our "joy" is the same as another person's definition and get all esoteric about no two people defining anything the same or seeing color the same way but that neglects the reality that the function of language is to communicate, even abstract concepts, if imperfectly due to the unique nature of each human experience but still with a degree of success because of the breadth of language available and the vast number of shared experiences.** No other person has the exact same mix of experiences that makes me think and behave the way I do, but for each experience, there's someone somewhere who can relate because of a similar, if not exact experience... granting that there will be exceptions to this, as with anything... but that's sort of peripheral to what I started writing about.

The Music Genome Project has no way of knowing that when I'm in a semi-nostalgic, somewhat bitter, contemplative and cautiously optimistic mood I want to hear old Dashboard Confessional, new Muse, some Justin Timerblake, some Whitesnake and only half of Introducing the Hardline According to Terrance Trent D'Arby but all of O.K. Computer. So I will tell Pandora just that, and use the thumb buttons to keep things in line.

Gee, that was simple.

*Interesting side note--my husband & I share an account. Of the 23 stations we've created, only two of those are my husband's brain child, plus a joint station.

**Someday I might learn how to make my sentences feel like my speech while employing proper grammatical form, but I doubt it. I think and speak in run-on sentences. If I cared more, I might fix it. I don't.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cold, the bad, but not viral, kind

Alright, everyone seems to have their own definition of what "cold" is when it comes to temperature, but it all boils down to "uncomfortable" in the end right?

In early fall, 60° is cold.  In early spring, 60° is beautiful, wonderful and a gift from God.  I prefer my rooms 72° but hate high bills, so settle for 68° in winter... Then again, I have a space heater at my feet and three cats, so I'm not hurting any.

But "cold" is a matter of perception.  Amongst the ladies I sing with, we have one perpetually cold and one perpetually hot.  Getting those two comfortable in the same room is a feat of layers, not climate control.  My friend the Tropical Norwegian is so spoiled by his years in SoCal* that if it's less than room** temperature outside, he thinks it's cold.  I remember the same complaint from friends who grew up in San Diego as we walked along the beach in Santa Barbara.  I'd just come from the northern reaches of Illinois, where it was cold 6 months of the year, so strolling along the beach at a balmy 63° in early December was bliss!  I didn't even wear a jacket.  Jen & Jenn (the San Diego girls) were bundled up in the warmest thing they owned--a sweatshirt.  Thankfully, I had some other Bay Area ladies to back me up in the "This isn't cold, it's lovely!" camp.

They also didn't really own anything warmer than a lined windbreaker when it came to coats, and why should they?  That part of the state has totally civilized winters--wet and green.  Unlike the 4 months of grey, sunless days and bleak starless nights to be found in Chicagoland, bracketed by a month on either side of can't-make-up-my-mind weather where you start off running the heater on the way to work, only to switch to AC on your lunch break... sounds a bit like Dallas actually.

Me, I could live just fine in a place where the yearly low was in the 40s and the highs in the 80s.  That sounds brilliant to me.  I might actually spend more time out of doors if I lived in a place like that, but probably not since I still pink instead of tan, and every biting, blood-sucking bug in the known universe seems to think I'm tastier than 98% of the other humans on the planet.  Since I don't live in one of those places, I've grown very comfortable being indoors.  Or with sweating and sipping Juleps.  And wearing wool.

Anyway, I'm talking about weather, so you know my brain is stretched thin and mostly out of substance.  Resorting to small talk here... I should go be productive.  It is Christmas Eve Eve after all.  Maybe I should wrap gifts of bake cookies...

*I hate calling it that... I kind of have a "thing" against most of Southern California just on principal... or lack of experience and a giant chip (with fish) on my shoulders about never getting to go to Disneyland, so even though I was conceived in (North) Hollywood, I'm still a San Francisco girl, and no, not NoCal, because that's what trendy weight watchers call diet sodas...

**Given the lovely women he chose to marry, that's about 70° I think

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas cheer, holiday spirits, and all the fa la la

Years of working retail has left me with little appreciation for contemporary holiday music. Christmas carols and hymns traditionally sung in December still make me smile. I adore the Nutcracker, and the Peanuts song.

However, there are a slew of songs that the department stores where I worked ruined for me. See, the last place I worked had a loop 107 minutes long. On a nine or ten hour shift, that's a lot of the same songs over and over. In fact, we used to tell time by Feliz Navidad. It was roughly the half-way point. Though in a loop you should be able to start counting anywhere, there was a brief pause at the end (or beginning) of the loop. 30 beautiful seconds of quiet that meant we were 107 minutes closer to freedom. Then Wonderful Christmas Time would start up, and we'd trudge on with armfulls of discarded sweaters to start the countdown again.

Certain songs still make me cringe just upon hearing a few notes. Most notably, The Snow Song from White Christmas... oh, how I detest that song. The wailing, the repetition. Wash your hands and face in snow? Really? Have you ever had to shovel a driveway full of snow? Twice, because by the time you got to the end, the top was full again, and you had to start in the dark just to be done in time to get to work on time? What's romantic and lovely about that? Or the grey piles of dirty snow that sit on corners for months looking dingy and foul because it's too cold to melt them and too cold for fresh snow to fall. And I know that dear friends of mine adore the song, adore the movie, the memories it evokes, all that. For me, the memories it evokes are of endless hours of drudgery, in the cold, in the store, piles of snow to be shoveled, piles of clothing to be folded and hung, sore feet, cold hands, cranky workers and cranky shoppers and a cranky me.

Retail wasn't all bad--not that I ever want to go back. Still, there were a few moments each year of light and kindness in all the sale-frenzy from Black Friday to New Years Day. Once, I saw a mother show her daughter how to fold a shirt back up & put it back where she found it. I still had to refold it, because that mom didn't know our super-secret formula to perfectly fluffy display sweaters, but the thought alone warmed my heart.

And there were gems that kept me going in that 107 minutes of music. Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home) by U2 always made me smile because... well... it's my favorite band, being silly, singing Christmas songs. I never seem to get tired of Santa Baby. Even Feliz Navidad still makes me smile, perhaps because of it's prominent position as half-way marker. I would sing and sway along to What Are You Doing New Year's Eve. I actually adore that whole album... so I suppose I never really did get 100% Scrooged on Christmas music.

Now-a-days, I sing Christmas Carols in frilly Victorian clothing in the cold... for fun! I've learned a number of new carols that I'd never before heard, and get to sing old favorites, like the Ukranian Bell Carol, We Three Kings, and O Come Emmanuel.

So, I took some time to un-scroogify and find my joy in music by creating Our Pandora Christmas Station. It's mostly traditional, mostly religious, and so far, full of songs that don't make me shudder with horrible memories of retail years gone by. If you care to take a listen, you can join me in my Christmas spirit.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Girl School

The Man Card. 
Truth be told, I'm not sure what rights and privileges are associated with the thing, but I do know that expressing a lack of knowledge in certain areas will cause other men to revoke the holder's man card... To avoid this happening, go read up on The Art of Manliness.  I admit that even I enjoy reading some of the stuff there.  While I could care less than half a whit about how to tie knots in my fishing cord or shave like my great-grandfather, I do appreciate information on how to make a stellar cocktail, talk to bartenders and properly introduce guests to one another.

But I'm a girl, so enough about the Man Card.  There is a common concept amongst my friends about "Girl School."  That mysterious day in school when the boys were separated from the girls and they taught us all the feminine mysteries.  It was, in reality, quite disappointingly just an out-of-date film about bodily functions. 

In most references, we find ourselves lamenting that we missed a certain day in Girl School.  I, for one, missed the day where they taught the importance of matching your purse to your shoes.  I am a one-purse-at-a-time girl.  The current specimen is black, with lots of pockets, and enough room for the average paperback novel.  Stylish?  Not really.  I also missed the days on Haute Coture and Designer fashion.  I can't tell a Prada from a Coach from a Louis Vuitton, and I had to Google how to spell that last one.  I recently spent more than 2.5 seconds considering which shoes to wear with a certain outfit.  Not in a sophisticated "which style would look best and accentuate this ensemble to the fullest potential" kind of way.  In the "oh, do I wear black or brown?" kind of way.  I was shocked!  Color Coordination was one of my major areas of study in Girls School.  I only really dabbled in Application of Accessories, but I've taken several CE courses with qualified instructors* over the years.  Yet there I was, confused by the tan pants.  The only thing to do, once I realized I was wearing black accents and thus needed black shoes, was to go straight to the bathroom to reaffirm my girly-girl qualifications.  I was aces at make-up application and have worked hard to remain up to speed with trends and techniques.  I opened my ridiculous collection of colors and brushes, consulted my mental catalogue and pulled out a muted smokey eye suitable for day office wear with an understated, but flattering, red glossy lip.  I felt firmly feminine again.

There are lots of things that I missed in Girl School.  Sewing, Mending, and most forms of crafts involving needles, including knitting and crochet.  I scrapped by with a passing grade in Kitchen Witching, but have taken a few extra courses over the years that bring me up to snuff.  I couldn't pass Make Stuff Grow at all--not the Visual or Edible versions.  Arts and Crafts was a challenge--not because I lack the imagination or skill, but mostly because I lack the patience. I did pretty well at Freestyle Dance while failing quite miserably at most structured dances, due to an overabundance of enthusiasm paired with a devastating lack of coordination and discipline.  I did alright in Music, so long as the instrument is me, and not something else.  I'm currently working on my certification in Eyebrow Adjustments.  Storytelling, Make Believe, Dress Up, Shoulder to Cry On (and the follow up "Make Them Laugh Through the Tears), How to make a Hair Do out of the Contents of Your Purse--those I'm pretty good at.

I have, however, managed to surround myself with ladies who are good at all the things I am not.  Amazing cooks, bakers, hostesses, dancers, knitter, gardeners, seamstresses, milliners, skirt tuckers, eye-lash batters, save-the-world-with-a-bobby-pin-ers, and more.  If any of them happen to lack skills in Eye Make-Up Application, or Removable Jigga-Flern 101, I'm here to help.

Of course, The Art and Power of Being a Lady is so much more than fashion and accessories.  To sum up, a quote from that lovely book: "Being a lady is an attitude.  It's about being content with ourselves and confident in our abilities.  It's about feeling good and about looking good, too. But mainly it's about doing good."

So all the primping and preening and prepping goes into creating at atmostphere of confidence and joy.  We feel good, because we look good, and so we want to do more good for those around us.  We help our friends look and feel their best on their worst days.  We cook and craft gifts for holidays and Tuesdays and because we heard a song on the radio that reminded us of someone we love.  We lend hands and care for pets and plants when friends are out of town.  We entertain babies.  We loan out our husbands for heavy lifting and making of stuff with wood and glue and saws and nails.   Our hands are eager to help, however and wherever needed. 

That's the real magic of Girl School.  Whatever day you missed, whatever skill you lack, just look to your girlfriends.  They've probably got it in spades.

*An invaluable piece of advice, passed on to me by a good friend, comes from Coco Chanel (or so urban legend says).  When you're done, dressed, and ready to go--take one thing off.  That way, you'll never be too much, over done, or trying too hard.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

We interrupt your regularly scheduled posting schedule for an unscheduled announcement

Alright, I suppose it's not really a "regularly scheduled posting schedule" if it's only been active for a day since changing from the old posting schedule, in which this would be right on schedule, but that is sort of beside the point.

Today, I'm pointing you over to Single Dad Laughing.  He's my internet buddy--in so far as I read his stuff, and when I get around to sending him e-mails, he is kind and prompt in replying in a human-type fashion.  I like the majority of what he writes, and find him to be honest, heartfelt and humorous.  (Always avoid awkward and affected alliteration... or something).  He also has one adorable kid!

Today, he talks about "dislike" and the associated Facebook button that doesn't exist.  It's about more than Facebook though, and I enjoyed it, so I share.  Also, you'll notice that I don't have "like" or "dislike" as an option for clicking at the bottom of my posts.  I have other words that I like, and find more helpful... and maybe that won't hurt my tender sensibilities either.

Single Dad Laughing: Why Facebook should never add a "dislike" button

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Not strict in form, or what happens when you give a flamingo a yo-yo

One of my favorite movies of all time is Fantasia.  I love music and colors and dancing, so it seems like a perfect fit.  For my birthday, the man I love got me a musical snow globe thingy with Hyacinth Hippo & Ben Ali Gator dancing about.  That being our wedding cake topper and a frequent metaphor we use for ourselves, it was also a perfect fit.

Sadly, the musical workings parts... didn't.  But the globes were all sold out, so instead of a working musical snow globe, I got a silent globe and a gift certificate.  Well... I only owned the original Fantasia on VHS, and didn't have the new one at all.  Darling husband remedied that, and now I have both on DVD & Blu-Ray. 

As I watch, I'm reminded of all the things I loved, and why this movie is so special.  Imagination.  When I close my eyes and listen to this music, I don't see what the artists saw and then created and transferred to a visual medium so I can share their vision.  I see other stuff that I won't be able to share with anyone except through rambley, inarticulate explanations that involve lots of gesticulation.  Yet, like tinder, those images spark others and then my mind is off in a million directions planning universes that revolve around  me and granting my every whim.

My imagination is one of the things that has been both an incredible gift and a hindrance.  I suppose you could look at most gifts as both a boon and a curse, but that's a much bigger topic of discussion.  Not that imagination is a small or concise subject.  I've often been caught day-dreaming when I should have been doing useful and constructive things.  I dreamed of tutus and my name in lights as I entertained thousands of adoring fans in whatever particular way suited my fancy on that day.  I dreamed of wandering the globe in stylish and convenient modes of transportation.  I hardly ever imagined anything practical, like living in the suburbs with three cats and a dog, a husband and a cube job. 

When your mind is off on all the wild possibilities of the life we see in movies, how do you focus on the realities of life, like saving for mundane things like car repairs and new carpet?  How do you resist the temptation to wallow in dissatisfaction because life isn't grand or majestic?

Fluffy socks.

It's true.  Fuzzy socks are the answer.  Not just warm socks.  Warm socks are practical like 401(k)s and life insurance.  I'm talking about socks made of chenille that's been obnoxiously colored, stripped or polka dotted or patterned with some anthropomorphized animal.  Maybe with little grippy things on the bottom.  Maybe not.  They have to at least cover your ankles, and should allow you to slip and slide around on a hardwood floor better than Tom Cruise in that movie where he forgets to put on pants.  See, they have function--they keep your feet warm.  But they embrace the silly, the muppety, the wild dreamer inside.  Silly socks make life better.  If you can wear silly socks, then life can't be all bad.  You have a spark, a chance to dream and do little things that make the normal parts of life extraordinary.  I have a cube job, where I work with incredible people who make me laugh, and whom I willing spend non-working hours with.  I have a house full of pets and a husband to share the load.  I make crafts and wear costumes and spend 25% of the year pretending to be someone else.  I have friends and family all within easy driving distance.  I know at least 5 great places to eat and have a drink in my city.  I know I have people I can call when I want to dance, or shop, or eat, or see a movie.  It may not be the same as thousands of adoring fans, but an hour of laughing over shared memories feels just as cool (I think... I've never actually had the adoring fans to make an honest comparison, but I don't feel deprived by having never been face to face with those screaming hordes). 

So life is still full of imagination, even when you're balancing your checkbook or grocery shopping.  And when you don't let the mundaneness of life stiffle the silly and amazing thoughts in your head, with like minded friends, you can make cool things happen.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A change of pace

So, I'm out of Monday-Wednesday-Friday things to say. 

I'm moving to Tuesday-Thursday things to say.

I added little buttons at the bottom, sort of like the Facebook "like" button for you to click if you liked what you read, without having to think of an actual comment, and of course the ubiquitous buttons for sharing on a variety of social sites.

Anyway, I'll be back tomorrow.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Red Shoes

Red shoes make me think of my friend Paula. Paula is a 6' blonde haired, blue eyed, Swedish power house. Ok, she's not Swedish like from Sweden, she's Swedish like from Nebraska... but still.

So, she's got these amazing legs, and she's sometimes shy, but she forgets to be shy sometimes, and most of those times have to do with the right pair of shoes.

The first time I noticed this phenomenon was when she bought a pair of blood red strappy heels. Not tame heels like tall girls normally wear, HEELS! 4 inches of power to the woman within... those were some great shoes. When Paula put them on, she became a different woman. She forgot to be shy. She forgot to be self deprecating. She forgot to be apologetic for being 2 inches taller than the average male. She forgot that clothes are just clothes and should be purchased for function first, price second, and fashion last. She remembered that she's beautiful. She remembered that people like her. She remembered that she can make heads turn for good reasons! This is the power shoes can have. This is why women like to have more than just the minimum number of shoes. For me, that's 13 pairs. Black and brown pairs for both summer and winter, both casual and dressy, a nice pair of heels for both summer and winter, one pair boots, one pair sneakers, and a pair that are older than dirt that you don't care if they get destroyed for housework, yard work and hard work. Minimum. I also think every woman should own a pair of mary janes, mules and a sandal that doesn't make her feel like a frumpy hippy, but those are more guidelines. Other women may disagree about the number and necessity, so I suppose the real number of shoes you should have is the number of shoes that you wear. So there's my mini-manifesto on shoes.
Sadly, there weren't enough opportunities for Paula to get to wear the blood red heels of strappy awesomeness. Over the course of about a million years* however, Paula stopped needing the shoes to feel like a million bucks. On most days, anyway. One of our best friends is getting married tomorrow, and Paula gets to wear the most wonderful shade of red as a bridesmaid. Imagine my shock when she told me she bought new shoes to go with the dress. They're also pretty dang fabulous. High heels, black, peep toed... very nice, and they do all the same things the original shoes of amazing did for her. She paired them with a red and black top in two sassy sheer layers that added up to one smokin' outfit. Those million years* really did teach her a lot about not being afraid to be her awesome, amazing, butt-kicking, name-taking self.

I will be wearing red shoes to the wedding, inspired by Paula. Mine are pointy toe things, with a sparkly bit that holds some strappy bits that don't really serve any purpose other than to be pretty. They also have heels that make me taller than 85% of the population. I will wear them and forget to be ashamed to be tall. I will wear them and remember that people like me. And then, because I am me, I will take them off and be happily barefoot.

*This is, perhaps, a slight exaggeration.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The spaces in my brain are full of fluff. There are so many things bouncing around my brain at the moment. Things I'm thinking about, want to talk about, need to write about. Not a stampede of ideas really, because that implies a force of motion that I'm not sure I've got. Maybe a swarm... tiny little thoughts that don't stay still and buzz around, getting in my way and annoying me. There are so many changes going on along the peripherals of my life while things essentially float on apace at our house. A new house, a wedding, a baby all on the doorstep of the season of holiday entertaining. These are the times I wish for the ability to focus with clarity instead of multi-tasking myself into a mess. But, this won't be a post about the things I want to post about, because that seems pointless beyond the level of pointlessness I usually promote here.

So, some moments of joy and peace amongst all the frenzy around me:

I have a new niece. She is a week old, not quite 8 lbs, and precious. I was lucky enough to meet her on day 1, and her very trusting mother even let me hold her when she was just hours old. (I think this being her 6th baby, she’s not quite as nervous about the handling of newborns as I am, who has only ever held 3 fresh babies.) She has blonde eyelashes, and what I could see of her hair poking out of the ubiquitous blue-and-pink stripped hat looked to be in the strawberry blonde range, which keeps all things even at that household when it comes to kids: 3 boys, 3 girls. 3 blue-eyed redheads, 3 brown-eyed brunettes. Anyway, darling niece #3 is tiny, precious, and has already learned how to scare the crap out of her aunt with only a sneeze. It seems like babies shouldn't sneeze for at least a couple of days, but no one told my niece that. Suddenly, this tiny, warm, adorable, squiggly mass of baby went from cute & cuddly to making a noise I didn't think possible from something that size. I'm sure my face must have been quite the sight as I tried to figure out what I'd done to break the baby...

One of my Nebraska Girls* is getting married on Saturday. All the planning is coming together as the sheer momentum of events keeps things moving forward. We assembled favor boxes last week, and last night—as her things are being transferred from her current home to her new home—prepared the thank-you gift bag things for out-of-town family, including a personalized Christmas ornament. I have to say, I’m rather pleased with the way those came out, and our little bride was such a trooper! The original idea was a complete failure, and yet, she never even batted an eyelash at it. She just picked up and kept going, trusting in the shared knowledge of her friends and family to make it all come together. So, I put my craftiness to work and that’s one more thing for her to cross off her list. Now, I've got an outfit figured out for the rehearsal dinner, but I've changed my mind at least fourteen times about what to wear to the wedding. Black, because the bride doesn't think black at a wedding is tacky. Red, because it's Advent at a Catholic church, so it's the primary wedding color. Khaki, because together with black, it's the bride's favorite color... Or a black dress that has a khaki ribbon trim at the empire waist with something to cover my bare arms and red shoes... or try to fight holiday crowds to get a new cocktail dress that I can then wear to my husband's swanky work party... oh, the decisions!

Moving isn’t fun. Last in the lengthy list of friends who have moved this year are some of my oldest friends here in Dallas. New houses can be fun, but the process of going from one to the other is rarely fun. Add into that the purchase of the new home, holiday travel, bank rules and regulations that seem arbitrary at best, and perhaps the cutest nearly-8-month-old baby I know, and you get a lot of stress. I subscribe to the “one less thing to worry about” club, in that if there’s ever anything that I can do to have one less thing to worry about, I love to delegate that responsibility out. So, now I can add house-sitting to my pet-petter and animal-feeder resume. While my friends were off trotting the globe (or at least the country), I had the pleasure of getting to see the new house, check the mail, play with the thermostat and faucets, and some other stuff… like stand in the kitchen and look into the other rooms and imagine making jam there with the lady of the house, or picture where the man of the house would be fixing me a killer Manhattan… I can’t wait for the settling-in process to start and see how they make that amazing house into an amazing home.

So that’s the life of the Bean, on this day.

*Nebraska Girls being my fabulous friends who attended UNL with me and then let me talk them in to moving to Dallas with me

Monday, December 6, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Period Space Space

After a recent conversation with my husband, I have confirmed two things that I've known about myself for quite some time:

I am stubborn.
I do not like to change comfortable things for arbitrary reasons.

I was taught to type with two spaces following a period.  Just like that.  I type that way because it is the way I learned to type, though my husband, a mere 3 years younger learned and was forced to use a single space to separate his sentences.  I didn't know the technical reasons behind it.  Mavis Beacon never told me, and I never asked.  MLA has changed in more ways than I care to think about since my days of term papers and essays, and since I'm not a formal writer, I... don't care.  This is just one more area where I agree with Allie Brosh: Double Space Forever! 

The double space may be "an artifact left over from manual-type and typewriters where characters could not be kerned to correct for the relatively tiny space a period takes up,"* but I work off of muscle memory and sheer determination, so stopping to delete an instinctive space just isn't going to happen until I'm forced to by the folks at MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, or the AP Stylebook.  They'll have to send their ninja-like assassins after me with a long list of crimes including: abuse of the dash, disregard for the semi-colon, defamation of the parentheses, ignoring natural sentence breaks in favor of dangerously long run-on sentences, and questionable grammatical constructs.  Until that time, I will continue to bend, twist, and abuse the English language to fit my own whims.  I will use the Oxford optional comma.  In fact, I will use commas as breath marks, because that's the way I talk.  It's a combination of stubbornness rooted in laziness fed to the fire of indignation over having to change something for no reason that seems valid to the publication in which I write.  Space isn't limited here at the Parade.  Space for all!  Space for spaces, and space for commas, and space for whatever I feel.

I herby denounce all other style guides and vow to write by the Bean Language Association Style Guide.  It goes like this--write like you talk.

That's it.  Oh, wait, an addendum:

(Because it wouldn't be a style guide if it hadn't been changed on the whim of the authors after sobering up or coming down off their soap-box)

Write like you think, or with as many of the things you remember from your schooling years as possible, but if you forget al the myriad rules of grammar and punctuation, don't beat yourself with wet noodles.  Learn the basics.  Understand homophones and how to work spell-check.  Then, go!  Be free!

The End
Gee, this sounds sort of revolutionary, or at least reactionary.  It's not.  I'm hardly unorthodox.  Clinging to old familiar traditions because the new way is functionally useless when applied to my life isn't very cutting edge or exciting.  It's not hip.  It's stodgy.  Ooooh... stodgy.  What a great word!  I'll be un-radical and stodgy about my type formatting, and as I told my hubby, MLA can go suck an egg.  In this one area, I don't particularly care what people think.  If the format and presentation of my round-abou, half-baked, hare-brained ideas is irritating to you, my condolences.  Now go away.  I have punctuation to use precariously.

*My Husband, 2010.  I'm not going to use MLA formatted footnotes to quote him either.  No bibliography or anything.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Stripes, colors, and mathmatical craziness

So, we all know that I love socks, right? Good.

Because this is a tale of how socks one again nearly ruined my day. See, I did a strange thing this morning. Usually, I decide what I want to wear, then pick socks. This seems the normal, rational, acceptable thing to do. Yesterday, I was weird, irrational and unacceptable.

I opened my sock drawer, and pulled out socks. I put them on--before having even the vaguest clue what I wanted to wear. I thought I was doing myself a favor by narrowing down my choices a little bit. I chose a tri-colored stipped knee-high sock, giving me 3 colors, and the associated complimentary colors to choose from, and that pallette includes about 84% of my closet. That's just an estimated number. I haven't actually measured the volume of my closet and the amount of space each color takes up inside my closet... but now I really want to!

Back to the socks. So, wearing my socks of choice, I step into the closet to pick out an outfit. This should be easy. Blue, grey, purple stripped socks give me lots of options. I start with the shirts, because bottoms are basic and will be determined by the top. I bypass the turtlenecks, because even though I find them to be the best thing about this time of year next to sweet potatoes, holiday parties, and twinkling lights, I wore one yesterday, and the one to best match my socks was in the dirty clothes. So I looked over t-shirts, but decided against them in favor of longer sleeves. I looked through the hanging shirts, and briefly lost my mind when I fell in love all over again with one of my 3 orange shirts. This one is a deep rust color with lovely 3/4 length sleeves and a cowl neck. It drapes beautifully, and looks smashing with my hair... I pull it off the hangar, reach for my chocolate brown trousers and...

HALT! I'm wearing blue, purple and grey socks!
No yummy orange shirt of lovely rustiness for me. No drapey cowl neck. No chocolate pants with brown glittery flats. No! Let’s overlook the fact that I could, conceivably just change my socks, go pick out something from the sock drawer that was brown, because I don’t own any orange, rust, or other tonally appropriate socks. (I also don’t own any yellow socks, for those of you who are wondering what to get me for the next gift-giving holiday.) We’re going to overlook that option, because it honestly didn’t even occur to me.

These are great socks. They’re fun. They’re warm. They declare my whimsy and willingness to look ridiculous in public.

Because I went back to the rejected t-shirts (why don’t we call them Q-shirts, or J-shirts, or other more fun letters?) and grabbed a blue polo, a purple crew neck, and a long black cardigan-type-entity that I (possibly erroneously) call a duster, a charcoal grey mid-calf length wool skirt, and my comfiest slip-on Mary Jane type shoes.

There! An outfit! For these socks!

That was yesterday. Today, I am bedecked in rust and chocolate and all is well.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Red light, green light, brake light, crunch

So, I ruined a 10 year streak today.

For the first time in 10 years, I was involved in a car accident while I was behind the wheel—though it wasn’t my fault. I got rear-ended at a stop light. It wasn’t a big deal, or at high speed. I honestly thought there wouldn’t be any damage. But when I got out of my car and looked at my rear bumper, a piece of the other car’s license plate frame was embedded into it. The offending screw had poked right through the flimsy fiberglass and left a finger-sized hole. It was almost comical. Almost.

Oh well, exchange information, get insurance reference numbers, and go about my day.

Still, I couldn’t help thinking about my other accidents. See, having a spotless record for 10 years is nice and all—I haven’t even gotten a ticket in that time, though I have been towed once for parking where I wasn’t supposed to—but it doesn’t automagically mean that I’m a better driver than the rest of the world. I like to think that it does. I like to think that I’m situationally aware, conscientious, responsible, cautious and yet decisive when needed. I fancy myself a better-than-average driver, but I’m sure that most of the population feels the same way.

I wasn’t always a safe and responsible driver. 10 years ago I had 2 major accidents and 2 tickets in the space of 4 years, so that wasn’t such a good time for me. I’m a bit of a local legend around my high school as the idiot that crashed into the Mariner’s Cove sign… and part of the reason that there are now 2 Mariner’s Cove signs on either side of the entrance instead of one in the middle. Infamy, in this case, is not better than obscurity.

The last time I seriously rear-ended someone was in my 2000 Plymouth Neon—and I didn’t so much rear-end as try to put the hood of my car underneath the bed of the truck in front of me. Not, you know, on purpose, but that’s what happened. Same situation as today actually. Sitting at a light, a few cars back. The light turns green, traffic starts to move, I hit the gas, gently, but just as we’re getting up to speed something happens up ahead & everyone stops… well, everyone but me that is. I didn’t see all the red lights, and so had less time, and space, in which to stop, and that’s how I wound up totaling a brand-new car and being so very thankful for insurance, because a $250 deductible was much preferable to the $10,000 repair bill.

I suppose I learned my lesson. I think I’ve just been lucky, and today, a little of that luck ran out. Let’s see if I can manage another 10 years without incident. If all the other drivers on the road will agree to help me out here, I think I might just make it.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I see a red door and I want to paint it black

I will not talk about Black Friday.  Too many years working retail.  Last year, I was up at 3 am, to go to an outdoor strip mall in 40° weather, which was actually fun and resulted in some great deals before the sun even got up, but I think I used up all my Black Friday mojo out there in San Marcos.  I'm done with the day.

Instead, I shall talk about bunnies.  Because it was the first thing to pop into my head.

I typed "bunny" into Google, and this is what I got.  The epitome of bunny-ness: little and fluffy, with big eyes, an adorable nose... and not biting me.

See, in real life, bunnies are soft and look snuggly and wonderful... but they're... they're... squirmy and sometimes smelly, and their little back feet scratch you in very un-lucky ways.  I've never had a pet bunny, so I don't know if they ever settle down and snuggle like my beloved kitties, but I like to think they do.  I mean, what's the point of so obviously adorable pet that begs to be held and petted and snuggled (and called George) if it's just going to freak out and run away when you try to hold it and squeeze it?  Aren't all domesticated animals simply around for my amusement?  Why don't the squirrels outside my house want to come eat from my hand, and wash their little faces on my windowsill while I watch (and my dog goes not-so-quietly crazy)?  And they never offer to come in and do chores for me, which is really disappointing, because as we all know, fairy tales and the movies are actual representations of life and can be used as templates for building our hopes and dreams.

See, I have this very non-specific memory of going to some friend's house somewhere in Texas when I was about 10 years old, and she had bunnies... lots of them.  Like a farm of them, but maybe just a little Mom-and-Pop farm... run by her Mom and Pop... So there were all these long-eared bunnies... floppy ears and soft fur and little cottony tails and claws!  Bunnies have claws and those little buck teeth are sharp and they bite!

So just a warning to all those out there who are enamored with the soft, squishable, squeezable, snuggable bunnyness of bunnies.  They have teeth and claws.

I mean, so do most pets... like my cats, and guinea pigs and hamsters and squirrels...

So, you know... most cute animals also have some sort of protective parts too.  Which isn't to say that they aren't also nice and kind and good... just don't forget that bunnies have claws.  Which isn't their fault if they get scared and use them... I mean, after all, their natural instinct is to get away from things bigger than them and higher on the food chain, which we are.

This pointless PSA brought to you by my avoidance of shopping until the crazy is gone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When did I become one of "those people"?

Alright, it shouldn't come as a shock to anyone that I'm not exactly cool. I wasn't one of the cool kids growing up. I worked at the college radio station because I had to for my degree, and while it was fun, I really just wanted to get back to my Avid and make movies. So, new music has always been forced upon me by kind friends and unwitting strangers, and I usually have to be dragged to concerts.

Or at least, that's how it used to be. I'm still pretty bad at finding new music by myself, because I like listening to the music I already have... all 362 hours of it, or something like that. I'm not really great at knowing who is playing where or when, but if I find out someone I like is playing near, I go. I don't even have to have a date. It's one of the things I've learned to do as I got older--go places and do things I like without having to be accompanied. I still like it better with friends, but I don't let that stop me.

But this isn't a post about my new-found independence. This is a post about getting old... sort of.

See, when I first started going to concerts, I was 16, and that was U2 at a stadium in Chicago, and doesn't really count in terms of "shows". It was a concert, and it was amazing, but "shows" are a different breed. I don't know what my first "show" was, but I'm going to guess something at the Sokol Underground with Andrew. And we saw lots of shows there.

(A side note: one of my favorite things Andrew has ever said about me is that I'm the most low maintenance high-maintenance girl he knows. I don't remember all the exact reasons why, but listed among them were the desire to go to shows and sit on a dirty concrete floor in jeans and sneakers and drink whiskey, but love lipstick and care about wearing matching accessories and still need reassurance that I'm a worthwhile human and stuff like that.)

So, this spring, Alkaline Trio came to Dallas, and I wanted to go. I didn't know anyone else* in 500 mile radius who liked them enough to go with me, especially since the concert fell on the same night as another social event that 93% of my friends were attending. I, forgetting that I was no longer 21, decided that I could do everything! I would put in a full day of work outdoors, attend Social Function A, then drive 45 minutes to the concert, stay up until it was tomorrow, sleep a pitifully small number of hours, then get up and do another full day of work outdoors again.

But again, this isn't really a post about the foolish choices I make to enjoy good music.

See, while I was at the show, I realized something.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mo, renamed Rocco, from Wylie, found in Dallas

So, Friday was sort of an odd day for me.  I got a late start to my day because of some appointments, so when I got to the office, things weren't in their normal state of slightly dysfunctional flow.  I was helping a co-worker with some stuff and after going over the overview, she says to me, "Ok I have a random question for you."  To which I of course replied, "I have some random answers."

But before I could start listing off some random trivia, she asked if I liked cats.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Perception vs. Reality

Perception is a mighty super-hero.  Perception wears a cape, has laser vision, super-strength, the ability to change shape and be invisible.  Perception can fly.  Perception wears spandex well and is charming enough to get away with being kinda jerky at times. Perception shakes babies and kisses hands and signs autographs for swooning, pimply faced fans of all ages.  Perception brings home the bacon, does her own taxes, sets tables like Martha Stewart, cooks like Alton Brown, cleans like a Merry Maid and does it all with Donna Reed style, by which I obviously mean in pearls, heels and perfectly straight stockings, probably with a frilly little apron she made herself.

Reality is a frumpy accountant.  In a suit.  With an attaché case and loafers.

As far as showdowns go, it's easy to see this one isn't really even a fair fight.  It's not an exciting duel between equals.  It's a merciless slaughter.  No epic battle to the death, just a swift death with no pomp or circumstance, no weeping maidens, no brave men enduring with stoic dignity.  No ticker tape parade for the victor.  Not even a congratulatory handshake from a grateful public official. 

See, it goes like this:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What's 6 times 7? How many roads must a man walk down?

The number 42.  Much like exclaiming "37!?" will make Kevin Smith fans snicker, this number has special geeky significance to those of us who enjoyed "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."

This isn't not about the secret meaning of life, the universe, and everything.  It's not even really about Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  It just happens to be my 42nd post, so I thought the intro relevant.

So, the topic of statistical probability came up the other day... maybe while I was watching House.  And given the fact that I actually do believe in some things that are statistically improbable and mathmatically unlikely, I still find this song by Tim Minchin to be quite funny and thought-provoking.

So for the lack of something else witty, profound, personable and engaging to say, I leave you with these lyrics to ponder.

If I Didn't Have You

Monday, November 15, 2010

Oh! That reminds me

I have the somewhat dubious honor of having had my... unusual style of verbal communication diagrammed by a very smart man whose job it is to analyze and explain data.

Now, if you've ever had a conversation with a talkative 4 year old, then you're somewhat familiar with my way of speaking.

"Tangential" is a bit of an understatement.  So, this man, who thankfully is a dear friend, so I don't have to be quite so embarassed or harrass him until he retracts the diagram, was sitting in a meeting one day at the office, and decided that the best use of his considerable intellect was to diagram a recent conversation, which was fairly typical of most conversations.

Now, as he is smarter than me in a number of different areas, I can't quite recreate what he came up with, but I'm going to try to at least outline what I remember of his explaination.  And if you don't think that it's a surreal, enlightening, humbling and awkward experience to have someone explain you to yourself, then you live in a world where the sky is perhaps a different color...

So, the base line in this example will be that thing that I started talking about, the story I set out to tell.  For today, we'll use the color purple, and why it's my favorite.

Now, imagine that as a straight line.  Everytime I remember something else I want to say, or get reminded of anther story, that creates a line that branches off from the main line, and if while telling a side story, I think of another story, then that story is added on to the branch, sort of like a wonky family tree of stories...

Now, this smart man who is my friend went a step further, and identified the most common phrases that indicate a branch is about to begin.  From what I can recall, and in thinking of the way I speak, here's an abbreviated list:
Oh! That reminds me...
And another thing...
And one time...
Which is funny because...

Of course, if I ever remember my original intent, there is often the utterance of:
What was I talking about?
How did we get here?
Um... where was I?
Which is followed by "Oh! right..."

So in the end, you wind up with something like this, for the following conversation:

So, purple is my favorite color, as I've said lots before, and it's been my favorite color as long as I can remember.  Purple and pink were my favorites when I was little, which is funny because when I was little I called it "purkle" and now my whole family still pronounces it that way when talking to me, Oh! That reminds me, my friend's mom used to say it "permple" like her whole life, not just as a kid... what was I talking about? Oh, right...  so, I always said I had two favorite colors, because I have a hard time making decisions, but purple was always one of them.  Purple and pink, then purple and blue, then purple and green, which is eventually what I had for my wedding, although it's strange to me that even though it's my favorite color, none of my formal dresses were ever purple.  I wore black, navy, red, ivory, navy again, but not purple.  I think it's because I got teased in middle school for wearing purple all the time, so I stopped wearing it.  I even had these purple acid wash Wranglers.  And another thing, I mean I grew nearly 10 inches in 3 years, so it's not like any of my clothes fit well to begin with, so I got teased about always having high-waters because my pants weren't long enough, and we all know that being a tall girl is hard enough especially in the pants department, because finding pants that are long enough is hard, but finding stylish pants that are long enough is impossible.  And I didn't even have to worry about hips back then.  How did I get here?  Oh! right... so, yeah, I eventually got over being teased and now most of my closet is purple, because it's my favorite color.

All facts represented above are true and acurate. I don't think I've ever had exactly that conversation before... because it isn't really a conversation here, it's more of a rambly monologue... I can't account for the tangents that would be sparked by the introduction of outside information from the people I would share such an innane tale with, so this is a fairly mild example.  Typical true conversations might look more like this:

So, that's a conversation with me... as far as I can remember from the telling from my very smart, wonderful friend.

Friday, November 12, 2010

What a crock!

I'm having a love affair with my crock pot this fall. Now, to be fair, I've always loved my crock pot, but I'm finally putting the little guy to good use!

Last night, I had some girlfriends over for dinner, and like a little cluck of hens, we ate and talked and drank wine.  It was glorious.

The original plan was to put spaghetti sauce on to simmer all day.  Forgetting that, I made spaghetti last week, so spaghetti sauce turned into chili in a hurry.  Really, it's just a matter of switching the spices, as all the rest of the ingredients are the same.

So, chili simmering in the pot, a Tempranillo on the table, and my girlfriends arrive with cinnamon rolls.

Don't roll your eyes.  It's weird, but it's good!  I'd never heard of this odd-ball combination either until I attended the University of Nebraska, and then all the natives insisted that it was the only way to eat chili.  I'm not convinced of its superiority to things like a baked potato topped with chili, or just chili with cheese, onions and oyster crackers, but it is good.  It's not just the contrast of sweet with savory, which my brother strangely detests.  A pinch of cinnamon in a pot of chili just does something amazing to the spices.  Alton Brown could probably explain the chemistry behind it, but it makes the chili and cumin seem richer by comparison.  Like adding a little chili powder to hot chocolate...

Anyway, it's been a week full of soup-y goodness.  My husband made beer-cheese soup on Monday, and we both want to tweak the recipe a little, though not at all in the same way, so we'll wind up with two different versions of the soup before all is said and done.

And we recently acquired 10 lbs of fresh cow, so there's a rump roast just waiting for a date with the crock pot next week.  I've got a tortilla-type soup recipe that's sort of like Truvy's "a cup, a cup, a cup" recipe, only it's a can, a can, a can--black beans, corn, and tomatoes w/ green chilies.  Of course, then you pick a rotisserie chicken clean, cover it with broth & ignore it for a few hours.  Serve with tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream if you wish... mmmm... I'm making myself hungry (which is remarkable as I haven't been able to smell anything for 3 days, so nothing really sounds good.  Worst part about a cold really--it robs food of all it's fabulosity...).

I think my favorite thing about the crock pot isn't the convenience or the simplicity.  No, it's the smell.  You walk in to the house and everything smells good.  It reminds me of being young and coming home to find Mom cooking.  The smell is the invitation and anticipation.  It means you've made real food from real ingredients.  It's what makes a house a home... the smell of a good meal. 

So show your crock pot some love soon.  You'll thank me later.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

a cuppa tea

Alright, so not being English, or an avid tea drinker, I'm a little slow in jumping on the tea bandwagon. Mostly because tea is, in my mind, the thing you drink when you're cold or have a cold. This is not helped by the fact that my husband drinks some pretty foul concoctions.

Mom drank coffee black, Dad drank tea, sweet with milk. I like my tea black... or did, until I started creaming & sugaring it into submission, much the same way I do with coffee that isn't mixed in with my hot chocolate. That also might be because I started off drinking only fruit teas--mostly Lemon Zinger, and a peach something. Of course, there was green tea with Chinese food too.

Now I've branched out and drink all of the "regular" teas: Earl & Lady Gray, Irish & English Breakfast, Constant Comment and the rest of the standard Twinnings. I still don't care for chamomile or warm mint, but I'm usually game to try most of the other flavors.

See, my friends like tea. They like lots of tea. They like good tea, and they like a wide variety of tea. I'm still learning the language, so I don't always know just by the name whether a particular tea is black, green, white or red. I'm not sure what an Oolong is, but I like it. I don't yet own a tea ball or other method of preparing loose tea, but it's on my list.

My favorite tea is still a little gem from a place in San Jose called Lisa's Tea Treasures. My mom's friend Anne, who's been like an adopted aunt my whole life, took me to Lisa's one summer, and I bought this delicious vanilla jasmine tea. Fast forward ten years to the kitchen of my friend Kathleen, who is one of the many tea-lovers in my world, who introduced me to a beautiful vanilla caramel tea. So, we're standing there, and I'm browsing her teas, and I get a whiff of something deliciously familiar... I look and see the bag and think, "no... can't be!" But it is. There in her kitchen is my favorite tea... and I have no idea how she managed to get it all the way from California, but I'm intrigued and excited and want to do the same. Sadly, turns out it was nothing more than having a friend from the area bring some back for her.

This past weekend, Kathleen brought out another Lisa's gem... champagne raspberry oolong... with cream and sugar and a little 43, it was the perfect thing to take the edge off a chilly morning.

After throwing a tea and cake baby shower, I've got a craving to host another tea party. The last one I had was when I was about 13, and my mom was awesome enough to track down crumpets for my girlfriends and I.

So, next time I have a free weekend, I'm gonna gather some girlfriends, enable us all to wear frilly dresses, gloves and hats, and drink tea, eat tiny cakes and sandwiches, and talk about the weather.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Thunderbolts and Lightning...

I actually like the rain. It makes me want to snuggle up and read, and anything that makes me want to do that is good in my book.

I don't like floods or leaky basements though. See, there was this house in Richardson, a quadplex thingy, with a basement.

I'll give it a minute to sink in. A basement. In North Texas.


Anyway, said basement had no sump pump, concrete floors, and a leak.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tony, Tony look around! Something's lost and must be found!

Alright, I lose stuff.

It happens to everyone sometime, but it happens to me more often that I'd like to admit. Most of the time I've just misplaced something and forgotten where I moved it to. Sometimes I just forget things at home, or at the office, or at a friend's house...anywhere but where I am when I need it.

On Saturday, I lost my keys. Very frustrating, as I can't drive without them. (I should really learn how to hot-wire a car for emergencies.) I went out to the car to look for something else I had misplaced (stop laughing!) and decided that since I was just going to be leaving in a few minutes, I would leave the stuff I needed to take to the place I was going in the car, but I made sure to keep my keys in my hand so as not to lock them in the car (see, I sometimes learn from my forgetfulness).

I took the stuff out of my car that wasn't what I needed for the evening. It was leftover stuff from the previous weekend's activities that had never made it back inside, including a pair of jeans that I had turned the house upside down (in an exaggerated, non-literal way) looking for, going so far as to accuse my poor, innocent husband of stealing, hiding, eating or otherwise destroying or removing from this plane of existence all my jeans.

Anyway, I took that stuff in, with my keys in my hand.

I set that stuff down, looking though it to try to find the other thing I had misplaced. I didn't find it. I kept looking, including places I'd already looked in twice before, and eventually found the long-lost hair schmutz. Hooray! Now, to go pick up my friend and get on with the evening's festivities.

Now, where did I put my keys?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Honey... where's the ______?

My husband hates it when I "pick up" because I move things that he knew the location of (the middle of the floor, on the counter, under the couch) and put them in other places that he doesn't know because he wasn't there and I won't remember in more than 5 minutes.

So, with that information, I present this e-mail conversation, circa yesterday:

Him: We didn't actually buy a wet-vac...
Me: We did to buy a wet vac... at the very end!  Didn't we?
Him: Nope. If we did, where'd it go?
Me: in the garage... with all the other stuff... the little red thing...
Him: Little red thing? What little red thing? Surely not the leafblower...
Me: No no no, looks like a bucket with a black lid... you know... like a wet vac...
Him: I have NO clue what you're talking about.
Me: This is what a wet vac looks like:

Him: I know what a wet-vac looks like.  I have no clue what, in our house, you think is a wet-vac. Where in the garage do you think this mystery sucker is?
Me: somewhere... under some stuff... maybe near the back...
Him: Define 'back'.
Me: where the door is... the garage door, not the... garage door.  Away from the house.
Him: I present to you, some things from our garage which are red...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Whistle while you work to a happy little working song

Chores.  We all have them.  We all do them.  There are some that are better than others.

The chores that I avoid at all costs (at this point in my life I relegate them to my husband):
  • sweeping/mopping
  • ironing
  • yard work of any kind
The chores I avoid or try to pass off to my husband as often as possible:
  • taking out the trash
  • cleaning litter boxes
  • cleaning the bathroom (especially sinks)
The chores I don't particularly like or mind:
  • dishes (though I like the emptying of the dishwasher more than the loading)
  • washing/drying laundry (by which I mean the taking of clothes to the washing maching & transfering to the dryer)
  • folding/hanging clothes (gives me an excuse to watch a movie)
The chores I really like to do:
  • vacuum!  It's fast, it makes noise, and it makes an immediate & noticable difference in the appearance of a room. 
  • Put the folded/hung clothes away.  It frees up so much space & makes me feel like I can go shopping in my own closet again.
  • Organizing the miscelaneous crud that accumulates on our horizontal surfaces.  I'm just weird like that.
The purpose of this is really to help me put off doing some chores right now actually. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Glorious Snooze Button

The snooze button is something that can destroy relationships.  Thankfully, both my husband & I are huge fans.  We like to snooze for extended periods of time, which in our house means more than half an hour. 

But yesterday, the weirdest thing happened.  I slept.  Real sleep.  See, for my husband to be at work by 5, he needs to leave the house by 4:30, so he needs to get out of bed between 4 and 4:15, so he sets his alarm for about 3:45, which means I set mine for 3:30 so I can help him wake up.  Usually, once he's out of the bed, I stretch out and suck up all the warmth he left behind, then get up, feed pets, check e-mail, and stuff, then about 6 when I start to get sleepy again, head back to bed for a nap until 8ish, when I get up and get moving so I can get to the office by 10, work until 6, then head out the door to my rehearsals, meetings, dinner dates, whatever that usually start about 7.  It's brilliant.  Of course, on days when I don't have to be anywhere at 7, I try to skip my 6-8 nap and just head in to the office and be done early, but 6 am is also just when the kitties get snuggly again, so trying to resist the siren call of an empty bed with warm kitties is often more than my feeble will power can take. 

Only that didn't happen yesterday. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I have a yearning for a road trip.  Or a cruise.  Or just a vacation trip.  A get-away to somewhere not here.

Some friends drove Rt 66 last summer, and that sounds like fun, although if I'm gonna drive a fabulous stretch of road, I pick Hwy 1 up the California coast and then just keep going until I make it to Canada. I wouldn't mind seeing Vancouver or Toronto.  I'd go back to Montreal again too, and not just for brown gravy on french fries.

I want to go back to Yellowstone, and Yosemite, and visit Oregon & Washington.  I've never been to New England, so I'd like to cross those states off my list.  I wouldn't mind crossing the rest of the Hawaiian islands off my list too.  I've got 3 of 7 so far.  I'd like to visit New York City... just to say I have.  I want to visit Florida again, now that I know people I like live there. 

I want to visit England (now that I might actually remember it) & Scotland, and the rest of Ireland.  I want to go to France and embarrass myself further with my poor French.  I want to swim in the Mediterranean.  I want to see if olives taste better in Greece the way Guinness tastes better in Dublin.  I want to go to Rome and Venice and Prague and Berlin and Moscow and Cairo.  I want to go to Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Iceland.  Of course, I need to find a good native guide or learn some choice phrases in lots of languages.   Someday, I'd like to go to Jerusalem, and visit the sites of the early churches, maybe while eating olives.  I want to visit all the other hemispheres and more than 2 continents.  Go to Buenos Aries and Sydney.  I want to visit the places that are fun to say: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, the Himalayas, the Maluku Islands. 

This isn't like a bucket list or anything, just an informative speculation, so that in the unlikely scenario that I become stupidly wealthy and decide to travel around to world for weeks at a time, you know where to look for me.  Pretty much everywhere.  I want to look at volcanos and pyramids and walk crazy paths in crazy jungles and get bit by crazy bugs carying crazy diseases... ok, so maybe only the walking and jungle parts of that are things I want. 

My family used to take road trips, sometimes to places we would camp, but often to fun places like Reno and Tahoe and Grandma's House.  I remember reading and listening to music, and sometimes talking, and lots of looking out the window.  I want to do that again.

For right now, I'll poke around on Google Earth and plot out a trip around the world.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sock it to me

So, I really like socks.

My husband hates socks--thinks of them as just a necessary evil in part of the shoe-wearing world in which we live.

I, on the other hand, delight in socks.

This was recently hammered home to me when my socks made me angry all day.

See, here's what happened. I have this yellow shirt, one of only two yellow shirts I own, and I thought I'd wear it. I was wearing black pants, so I pulled on my yellow shirt, and because I only have 2 yellow shirts, I don't have yellow socks. I do, however, have socks with gold stripes, which I thought was certainly close enough to be going on with. So I put them on. Then I grabbed my favorite black cardigan. After looking in the mirror, I didn't like the yellow and black. I felt like a fat bee. Not good. So, I switched out for my royal purple cardigan. Again, no good. I'm not quite the person to pull off that color combo. So I decided to change my yellow shirt to a lavender one, wear the purple cardigan, and I was out the door, happy with my wardrobe choices.

That is until I got out of the car at the office and saw my socks.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Spare Pets

So, my house is saturated with animals. We have three cats and a dog. That being said, I still have quite a few spare pets.

The concept of a "spare pet" is one that my brother put words to for me, but has been a part of my life ever since I moved out on my own. See, that's when my cats became my spare cats. I didn't live with them any more, and only visited once a year or so (since they were hundreds of miles away). I still thought of them as my cats, but they really weren't anymore.

This feeling of "my cat, but not my cat" has since extended to the beasties of my friends. I have 3 spare dogs, and 14 spare cats. I thought of including pictures, because I have pictures, but that might be a little excessive.

So I got to thinking--what makes a "spare" pet?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bubbles and Bliss

I love a good bath. Showers are nice and all, but nothing can come close to the soothing properties of sitting in hot water. It’s rejuvenating, relaxing, well, you get the point. I like baths.

I love how the simple act of taking a bath makes it easier for me to face the world. I feel bolstered after a good bath. Not just clean, but restored (did I use that "re" already?). It's like my battery charger. Leave me alone for 45 minutes or so and I emerge a cleaner and nicer human. Smelling good and feeling smooth are like shields against the frustrations of the world. Calgon, take me away indeed.

I can't recall a time when I didn't enjoy my bath time, but I do recall fussing and fighting my mother when I was younger over baths. I never wanted to stop playing to take a bath. It seemed like such a waste of time. Of course, once I was in the water, I never wanted to get out until I was all pruny fingers and wrinkly toes. It's as if I magically forgot how much fun I had in the bath once I wasn't there. There was just as much playing to be had in the bath as out. I had these fabulous soap crayons that I got to use to draw on the walls and floating toys and dinosaur shaped sponges... But getting to that part was a struggle.

Now, it's frequently one of the best parts of my day.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Bean and the Quest for Pants

Most of the women I know understand the struggle to find pants that fit well.  Of all the many body shapes and sizes that we cover, not one of us can just go in, find our size & walk out confident that pants will fit.

First of all, there really isn't one "size" that we are.  Sizes are not consistent between brands, let alone the myriad permutations involved when you account for all the different cuts and styles offered.

Navigating the waters between straight cut, regular fit, relaxed fit, boot cut, flare, hip huggers, low rise, mid rise, natural rise... oh, it's a treacherous task.

Add on to that having legs longer than average, and it just makes shopping for pants a blood-pressure raising event.

It seems overly demanding to want pants that:
a) fit my waist
2) fit my thighs
D) touch my feet

Alright, so I have pants that do these things, the problem is that I don't have a single pair that does all these things at the same time.  Some pairs get closer than others, and those see the most wear.

How many of you have pants in your closet that you've worn once, maybe twice, maybe never? 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Camping, Roughing it, and Inks Lake

When I was a child, I would go camping with my family.  Yes, it's true.  I camped.  In a tent.  I enjoyed it, even.  I'll give you a moment to collect yourself and put your shocked face away.

Here's what I remember from those formative years:
  • Mosquitoes will always get into the tent.  They love me more than any other human I've ever met.  Therefore, camping is itchy.
  • Air mattresses will never stay inflated.  If they do, you will slide off onto the ground anyway. 
  • No matter how smooth and perfect the ground looked before you put up the tent, there will be a collection of pointy rocks right where you want to sleep after you put up the tent
  • If I stare at my bobber attentively for 3.5 hours, it is inevitable that it will bob in the two seconds that I stop to scratch a mosquito bite.
  • Blue Gills like to bite your toes.  This is why I don't like to swim in bodies of water where I can't see all the way to my toes.  I'm sure the fact that my brother would torment me with stories of giant man-eating catfish has nothing to do with it.  Mostly. 
  • Inks Lake has more visible wildlife per square inch than any other place I've been.  One afternoon we saw deer, owls, toads, chipmunks/ground squirrels, regular squirrels, hawks, water moccasins, and something else... most of those critters tried to share our camp site.  It was exciting only because none of those things had more than 4 legs.  4 is my limit of legs for things that I like.  0-4 is good.  More than 4 is dodgy, and if you've got more than 6, I'll probably squeak in a wholly undignified way if you get within 36 feet of me.  Just so we're clear.
  • Once upon a time ago, Bisquick made these shaker things of pancakes.  You poured milk into a little yellow plastic container, shook it up and voila!  Pancakes!  That's roughin' it.  Pancakes on the Coleman stove. 
  • The things inside lanterns that create the light look like baby's socks.  They are not baby socks.  You can not take them out of the lantern and put them on your baby doll.   
  • Mummy bags are warm, and fun to hop around in, because then you don't have to expose any skin to the air that's less than 72°. 
  • A motor boat is a very expensive, though effective, hair dryer. 
  • I cannot water* ski. It is a skill possessed by all my family members... except me.  I can, however, find new and exciting places for lake water to go.  My sinuses were squeaky clean, that's for sure!
  • If there is a difference between a ground squirrel: and a chipmunk... nobody cares. Since the difference isn't as important as the one with the rhyme about the snakes where one kills you & the other is harmless, I tend not to care.  Well, Alvin & the Ground Squirrels just doesn't have the same ring to it, but both of them really like Planter's Dry Roasted Salted peanuts, so there's that.
Ground Squirrel




*Snow skiing, however, I was passably good at.  I mean, intermediate.  Blue squares didn't scare me.  Black diamonds did.  And anything with moguls.  Why would I purposely want to ski over speed bumps?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cake. Alot of cake is a lot of cake

We interrupt your regularly scheduled not a Bean-posting day to bring you this important example of me tooting my own horn.


Alot is a brilliant creation from the mastermind behind Hyperbole and a Half.  I love the Alot a lot.  I love the blog, but it's not really child friendly, because she uses adult words like "velociraptor" and "loofah" so if you are sensitive to strong language, be warned--she uses all the words!  She makes me laugh. 

So, I made a cake.  A  lot of cake.  Alot... of cake!

This is a lot of cake

Alot closer

Alot of cake at a bad angle

the Alot is a creation of Ally Brosh at Hyperbole and a Half, and all the awesomeness of the Alot belongs to her, not to me.  I just made a cake. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Musical rewind

So, I had this grand idea: a cd with 30 songs, one from each year of my life.

It would be a fabulously eclectic mix, chronicling my life through songs! Only... well, obviously I don't remember much about music from the first few years, and then the songs that were influential later in life weren't necessarily from the year in which I was being influenced, and then you run into the problem where 1987 had so many great songs released that year I can't figure out which to pick! It's a conundrum.

So, I'm working on a list that will allow me to put the important songs in, leaving room for years I don't remember, and still putting the songs of important years in their place, while still paying attention to the years that they're from. So, here we go!
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