Friday, July 29, 2011

No matter how tall you get...

One of my favorite Aunt Cheryl stories isn't my story. Well, not really a "story" at all since it has no rising action, climax or resolution. I could try to recreate those things, but I don't think that's necessary. My Aunt Cheryl is rather petite. She barely clears 5' on a good day. She also forgets this fact on a regular basis. In her head, I think the foot that she's almost clearing is 6, not 5. That point aside, once upon a long time ago when my brother (now well over 6' tall) was wee and young, she instituted a rule that has stuck for all time. No matter how tall we get, she's still in charge.

There are lots of other stories about my dad's littlest sister (youngest too!) that are worth telling, but that's sort of the best one for my purposes... which is amorphous at best at the moment. It's not a "good things come in little packages" sort of purpose, although between MBFJ(c)G and my Aunt Cheryl, that is certainly true. If you add in my friend Marita Beth then you have conclusive evidence thrice verified. Ok, I really just wanted to say "thrice."

No, I think what I'm gong for is something along the lines of "don't get too big for your britches" in the ego and attitude way, not fudge brownies a la mode for dinner kind of way.

Life is funny, in both the "ha-ha" and the "uh-oh" varieties. This profound statement is fueled by a lack of sleep and low fat chocolate soy milk. But stick with me a minute. I have a feeling I might be getting to a point somewhere in here. So, as you get older (I won't say grow up, since some of us never do), what you want changes. I still want a gem-encrusted rocket pony and things covered in purple ruffles, but I no longer think my brother has cooties or that being a ballerina would be the coolest thing ever. Seriously, one book where they mentioned broken toes in dancers and I was OUT! Ok, so, injuries during physical hobbies aside, my "dreams" are pretty mundane these days. Have been for a while, I think. I want to learn to cook meat without having to use a thermometer to tell if it's done. I want to chop vegetables effectively. I want to bake a cake from scratch (or flour, not from a box) at least one time, just to say I can. Knitting and quilting and sewing in most forms can hopefully wait a bit, but, I have kitcheny goals at the moment. My "life" goals are a little looser. I still dream of travel, but like it in the dreaming stage. I don't have career goals, unless I find a way to make a career out of spending time on the internet with a cat in my lap. But then it would be work, and not fun, and I worry about that in a non-worry-more-an-excuse kind of way. But I do dream of being sort of well-rounded* and interesting...unique and special, just like all my friends.

I also dream of a day when all my floors are clean, all my laundry is washed & put away, and the bathtub is clean enough for a good long soak. And to be a rockstar. On the moon. With Steve.

So what does this have to do with getting too big for your metaphorical britches? Um... not a lot maybe, unless it's a reminder to myself to set smaller goals, take things one at a time, and listen to the wisdom of people older (and shorter) than me.

*also in the ego and metaphorical way, not hot-fudge-milkshake-for-breakfast way

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hey, did you know...

So, my husband & I are both notorious for telling the same stories over and over again. I know, not the best or brightest thing about us. Usually it's to different audiences and those few who happen to have heard it before are kind enough to grin and bear it. When it gets truly ridiculous is when we tell the same stories to one another over and over again. It happens so much, that we've developed a little code. Well, it's not really "code" as that implies some sort of "decoding" to be necessary to understand it. We just interrupt that person to tell them that in the movie "The Island" when Lincoln Six Echo goes to Tom Lincoln's house and sees pictures of Tom Lincoln riding motorcycles... those pictures are actually real pictures of Ewan McGregor... like from his life, not promo shots for the movie. We say this, because apparently EVERY time I watch that movie, I make that comment. Every time. Because I'm ridiculous. Usually, all we have to say is "Hey, did you know that in the movie 'The Island'..." and the other person will get the hint and we laugh and all is well.

Retelling stories in real life is sort of forgivable because who can really be expected to remember every time they've ever told any particular story and to what audience? So you give some lee-way. In text... that really shouldn't ever happen, right? A little bit of research should prevent the repeat story-telling from happening in, for example, a blog? Right? Yeah, that seems reasonable. Only... I'm unreasonable. It seems that I want to tell the same stories in print too. Some of that is not being able to remember if I said it on Twitter or here. Like, did you know that I used my Creative Memories Storybook Creator Plus 3.0 to create my swirly giraffapotamusy blog background?

 I did. I did it all by myself. And I tweeted about it. Then, my lovely husband took it upon himself as a challenge to make sure that the page looked the same on everyone's screen, regardless of resolution, which isn't actually true since some of the elements are overlapped on smaller screen and much more spread out on bigger screens, but the point is that people could see all of the design no matter their screen size, even if it was laid out differently. And he spent a lot of time researching how to make that happen. And he did.. unless you have certain versions of IE in which the fun background doesn't display at all, and we're still working on that. Try it in Chrome! Anyway, most of that I already told Twitter, and now I'm telling you, so it's sort of like repeating myself and all that over-lap audience can just skip this part which is the internet equivalent of smiling & nodding while thinking about how to get away from the insufferable bore who always tells the same stories over and over again. I'm that guy. Sadly.

Which isn't so surprising, seeing as how I'm the one who sent an e-mail to a favorite blogger about an older post that had the comments disabled to say how much I loved that post and it spoke to me and the parallel she drew in there was just so perfect and, "Gee, I like that band too, and I think you're keen."

Seems harmless, right? WRONG! I'd already sent that e-mail some 5 months before. Only, I completely forgot. Not that I'd ever e-mailed her before, but what I said in that first e-mail.  Turns out, at least I'm consistent, right?


Yes, I am. So there.

Anyway, this is me giving you permission to use this on me in real life. If I start to tell you a story that a) I've already told you before, 2) you've read on this blog, or D) all of the above, feel free to jump in and tell me about Ewan McGregor in the Island. I won't complain. I won't mind. In fact, I'll probably thank you for sparing me further humiliation and foot-in-mouthery in public. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My bridge, my purple, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle* would be apalled!

I find myself irrationally possessive of things that can't be owned. Or at least owned by me.

I'm sure someone owns the Golden Gate Bridge, but I usually refer to is as "my bridge." Why? Because I was born near it, as were, I imagine, lots and lots of other people, my brother included. I don't really have ownership or dibs or anything. I think I mean it in the same way as I would say "my home town" if I ever had one of those. I don't really have a "home town" because we moved about enough growing up that I don't feel like I really "settled in" anywhere. This past August I reached a milestone and at 7 years, I'd lived in the N. Dallas area longer than I'd lived anywhere else in my life, knocking Grayslake, IL (6 years) out of the #1 spot. Anyway, the Golden Gate is my bridge in that sort of way... landmarky & familiar, even though I don't really own it. I understand and appreciate that lots of other people can claim it too, but I still think of it as mine.

My purple is a little harder to define, as it's sort of a range of purples that I consider mine in the way of... well they don't define me, but if I ever had to answer the question, "What color defines you?" I would pick one of the smoky lavenderish colors that I like so much. It's the love-child of fog-colored grey and the washed out royal purple that isn't quite pink enough to be lavender, but that's what I call it. Semi-amusing side note, one time, many years ago, my friend Karen was talking about... life and feelings and things and stuff and was unhappy with some of the limiting options of the universe or something like that, only in a much cooler and non-whiny way and she mentioned that very question as the sort of summation of everything that was wrong. How was she supposed to know what color defined her, how was that even an applicable question?! Only, I think we all sort of paused and said, "Blue." at about the same time, because...well, it was just sort of a no-brainer for us. So, while I know that I don't really own or have any controlling interest in my as-yet-unsatisfactorily-named shade of purple, I still sort of claim it.

I understand referring to preferred brands as "mine" though I have very few of those. Skippy is my peanut butter. I sort of invented giraffapotamus although I don't claim to be the first person to ever wonder what would happen if you crossed the two. I think the official answer I've decided on is a sort of short-tailed brontosaurus looking thing, with a giraffe head & horns on a giraffe neck that attaches to a hippo body... and it's all sort of hippo colored with the pattern of a giraffe. Giraffapotamuses like baths, and often fall down and trip over their own feet. They get really mad and fierce, but can't do much about it because of the giraffe head, not the ferocious hippo teeth... that seems about right to me.

*I know I'm not just making this up, but I can't seem to find the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books that I remember... ones where she fixed kids with behavioral problems by giving into the bad behavior and then letting it go to the extreme and whimsical solution... where the kid who hated baths didn't have to take them and then someone put seeds in the dirt on their skin and grew vegetables or flowers or something? And a selfish kid who got to label EVERYTHING in his world with his name and an identifier... let's call him Mike for this example. His mom had a "Mike's Mom" sticker and he wrote with icing or condiments on all his food "Mike's Cookie" "Mike's Sandwich"... I don't remember how that one got resolved which maybe says a lot about me as a human, but what I want it to say is that I loved and still remember those books... 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hodge-Podge & some music

A confession:


Two different words. I have been completely ignoring the first and using the second for both meanings. I know! I should totally know better. Now I do. My apologies for being wrong for so long.

A question:

Is rock-n-roll bohemian a valid style descriptor? If not, I'm making it one for today. It seems like something Cosmo would say, which makes me a little nervous, because I'm... well, not the kind of person who would be featured in Cosmo, but today, I feel a little like a hip hippy. You know those 2-layer wrap skirt things that supposedly can be worn 23 ways? I've only ever managed to pull off two of those ways until now. I saw one where you turn it into a jacket-shawl-cape-thing and I'm sure I dismissed it 100 times thinking that it's not a look I could pull off, but something about it looked do-able and now I'm all flowy and stuff. I love it! But I'm also wearing half pig-tails & crackle nail polish, so... you know... I feel a little rocker-esque too. So there's that...

A project:

I was trying to figure out a way to say (in 140 characters or less, because I was tweeting) that my friend Paula & I have barely convergent circles in the Venn Diagram of interests, but that what was in that together space was really strong & has kept us friends for more than 10 years, which is pretty incredible. Now I want to go make an actual Venn Diagram thingy for my Nebraska girls, because, on the WHOLE we don't really seem to make sense, but like lots of friends that you've had for a long time, there some shared experience stuff that kinda works like glue, but in the beginning, we had people look at us and actually say, "You two are friends? How does" Usually about me & Karen, but we were DESTINED to be friends. We had the same 2 posters on our walls (Trainspotting, the rant, and Say Anything). Destiny!

A sad:

So, remember way back on Tuesday or something when I said that maybe something exciting would happen before I posted next so I could make you laugh again? Well, I forgot to put the caveat of "something good & exciting" in there. Not that me saying that had anything to do with what did happen after I posted that, just... you know... you say things like "how could this get any worse?" and then it does, so you think, "wish I hadn't said that!" It's like that. Because after posting that, I found out that a friend had died due to complications in a surgery to remove her leg because of cancer caused by neurofibromatosis. Yeah. Sucks. She wasn't a close friend, but someone I sort of hung out with for 15 weekends a year as we participated in the same hobby. In preparation for the surgery she cut her shoulder-length red hair into a pixie cut and dyed it electric teal. She was a fighter and it's totally lame that she's gone. Totally lame. Cancer sucks, and it's the bad kind of diva, and... just... yeah.

A triumph:

So, a while ago, I got a new phone. I was very resistant to doing so because I loved my old phone. Now, I was totally one of those "phones are for calling people" people until I got my own smartphone. Then, having access to my e-mail and Twitter whenever I wanted was... too awesome to give up. So, I had a Google phone with a full qwerty keyboard that slid out, not a touch screen one, and that's all I wanted for my new phone. As a bonus, my new phone also is a lot louder than my old phone, so I can use fancy music ringtones & still actually hear my phone ring. This was very exciting to a music-based life form like me. But then! I didn't "safely disconnect" my phone from my computer and all the files on my phone for cool music went all wonky and I lost my fun ringtones, only I didn't know it until I missed like 3 calls, because I had my phone turned up ALL THE WAY and still missed calls when my phone was IN MY POCKET. So, I switched over to one of the standard rings that came with the phone, and it wasn't horrible, but it wasn't awesome, and I was used to awesome. Anyway, all that is just the back story. The triumph is that I fixed it this morning & instead of having to listen to the love child of a UFO & a pinball machine every time someone calls me, my phone now sings Blue Carolina to me. This is awesome again and makes me wish that people would call me so my phone would sing to me more. Almost.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dark & Mysterious... or something

I've always wanted to be mysterious. I like spy capers and magicians and would love an excuse to wear a cape. I'm drawn to female characters with "a past" who are intriguing because they are "unknowable." My husband claims that I am "unknowable" only because my wants are many, varied, and sometimes fleeting. I think "unpredictable" is a better word, and even that is something of a stretch. I almost always want the purple one of whatever it is, and will choose chocolate over fruit-based desserts an astonishingly large proportion of the time. So, you know... predictable.

Well, I'm not now, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever be mysterious. It's just not in my nature. Dark is also sort of right out. Pasty & freckled aren't exactly the first correlating physical attributes that leap to mind when one mentions "mystery" but that's ok. I mean, Galadriel was light & mysterious, so that is an option, just not for me.

I think the problem is in subtlety. I have none. My friend Dan once summed it up perfectly: "You're a six-foot red head. I think Mother Nature ruled subtlety right out." I can do dramatic. I can be bold. Neither of those things are necessarily full of mystery. Also, I have no "poker-face." None. When they say you can read people like a book... I'm one of those people. I can keep secrets, but it takes a lot of effort. (In fact, I'm keeping at least 3 secrets from you right now, so there!) I'm not quite so bad at keeping secrets as my husband, who has on more than 3 occasions had to buy me multiple Christmas gifts because he couldn't wait to give me the first one he bought. I totally luck out in that department. Me? I just buy gifts as I see them and then hide them in the house so that when it comes time to wrap gifts I realize that some people (the easy to shop for) have multiple gifts. I am also very easy to shop for.

I think it's because I like stuff, and I'm not shy in my appreciation. I'm actually not really shy about anything. I refrain from telling strangers my medical history, but I've been known to discuss my innards with my friends and family in a candid, yet (I find) humorous way. I will talk to strangers while out and about. There just doesn't seem to be too much that I won't talk about to just about anybody.

See, I just can't be mysterious! I want to talk to people and tell them things I know and things I heard and about the stuff I like. I want to hear all of that from them too. I want to know stuff, so I tell people stuff, and one of the things I know the most about is me. Obviously, I also tell all of you these things too. Can one be mysterious while blogging? Sure! You only reveal what you want to, right? I just happen to reveal a lot, because I don't find too many topics off-limits. I think the over-all impression one might get about me from this blog is probably pretty accurate to life. I'm talkative, sometimes obnoxiously so. I'm funny sometimes. I'm awkward a lot of the time. I love my cats and purple. I have opinions about stuff. I don't see much of a separation between "The Bean" and me. I tell my real-life friends and family about this space, and my mom even reads my blog (Hi Mom!), so it's not a deep, dark secret.

Now, my name isn't "Bean." My name doesn't mean "bean" in any foreign language nor is any family name derived from bean or legume-type words...that I know of. That being said, the detective skills required to find out my "secret identity" are more Beastie Boys than Hardy Boys. "The Bean" came from le bean, which came from LEBean, which came from LEB, my initials before I married a man with a last name at the tail-end of the alphabet, and that alphabet thing still kinda bothers me a bit. A fair trade for a wonderful husband, but not my favorite part of changing my name. I also used to be able to sign my entire name Firstname MiddleInitial Lastname without picking up my pen... a trick I learned from my mom (thanks Mom!). Now, I do have to pick up my pen once. The hardship I endure!

Anyway, I'm not mysterious. I'm sort of eclectic, but that's not the same thing. I'm not all that weird, because I know people like me, and there must be lots of other people I don't know who are like me too. I mean, I've been told lots of times by very different people that I remind them of their best-friend from grade-school or whatever, so I'm obviously not all that weird. Just weird enough. There is no mystery to my weirdness unless it's maybe in how I manage to like and do the things I do all at the same time... but, even that seems simple to me.

I just do.

Mystery solved.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How am I still talking?

I have no fun stories to tell you at the moment, no anecdotes worth sharing. The stories I do have to tell aren't appropriate dinner conversation, much less "tell the world wide web" conversations.

I'm tapped out.
dried up

And yet, I'm still typing, which is like talking, in more ways than two. My husband suggested an "Everything I need to know in life, I learned from our cats" post.

  • It's ok to sleep whenever and wherever I want

  • It's perfectly acceptable to whine to get my way

  • Just because it was wrong once doesn't mean I'll get in trouble for doing it again

  • It's a good thing I'm pretty...

Those don't seem like helpful life lessons to promote to the masses.

He also suggested I write an open letter to Banshee, our oldest, crankiest kitty. It didn't go so well, which somehow doesnt' stop me from sharing:

Dear Banshee,
I'm sorry your face is always stuck in a look of perpetual peevishness. I know that you are a genuinely sweet and loving kitty. Your purr can be heard 25 feet away, which seems pretty good evidence that you're not full of hate all the time. I'm proud of you for putting up with the kittens and consenting to share the bed with them. Also, just because you have grey strippes and so does the comforter... well, that doesn't exactly count as camoflage. Thank you for not scratching the dog's eyes out and I'm sorry I stepped on your tail the other day. It was dark. You're not exactly a high-visability kitty.

Much love, Me

See? It's just... this is what I've got at the moment. I think I used up all my good things to say talking to real people. Well, not that you aren't real people, but I meant people in my real life, not that this is my fake life, people in person. Actual talking, not typing. I used it all up. They weren't the best stories anyway. Some involved poop, and there is no infant in my life to make that an acceptable topic of conversation. I overshare sometimes, and I'm sparing you from that. This is my filter, people.

In case you were wondering, the sleepover with my niece went well*. There was Mexican food (not the planned Chinese take-out), and explanation of the function of a public notary, lots of giggling (hers), some nail painting (hers again, done by me) and some coloring (us). She went home happy. The rest of my thoughts are all wrapped up in the last Harry Potter movie and the books and stuff like that but until I can gather those into some sort of point, I'm going to let them just bounce around my head and be blurted out to random passers by.

One more service I offer, free of charge!

Hopefully something exciting will happen between now and next time so that I can once again wring from you tears of joy and laughter...or something like that...

*Have I said this before? I get the weirdest feeling of deja vu typing that...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Product Placement

Completely and totally unsolicited and un-paid-for reviews of some stuff I got recently! Yes, this is all I have to say today. I'm getting ready to have my niece spend the night with me and I need all my spare brain-cells to plan an evening of fun for an 8 yr old. She's requested chinese food. I think we're gonna be ok. Anyway, anyone who follows me on Twitter got to hear me whinge and moan last week about all the fun stuff I bought on the internet over the weekend taking SO LONG to get mailed to me (a week... a whole week!!). That shopping spree led to more shopping, and so I bore you with Tales of My Stuff!

First, the frivolous!
So, I don't paint my nails often. Not anymore. I used to, back in college. My toes and fingers were always painted some crazy color, and rarely did they match. Then I started working for a renaissance faire, and it turns out that not painting my nails for 4 months will take me from a "can't have naked fingernails!" girl to a "oh, I might throw a clear coat on" girl. So, now I only really paint my fingernails when I feel like it. On a recent trip to the drugstore, I saw a display for some of this new-fangled "crackle" nail polish. It looked interesting, but I don't often paint my nails, so I kept walking. Then, once I re-discovered the blog of the lady who was in that production of Hello Dolly, she had a post about the very same nail polish! So that was all in my brain--the un-mess-up-able qualities very much appealed to me. The cutting-edge-of-fashion appealed, but less so, because, honestly? I'm not cutting edge. I'm sharp-as-the-edge-of-town when it comes to fashion. But then... then I had a dinner date at a place near my office, but I got there WAY TOO EARLY, because sometimes my fear of being late and awkward leads me to be super early and equally awkward. However, this dinner date was in a shopping center with many places to distract me, like a Sally Beauty Supply, where I caved in and bought some of the silver glittery crackle stuff. So after dinner I came home and painted my nails "Pop the cork Purple" (a color my husband bought me on one of HIS trips to the drugstore, because he's totally awesome like that). Then I did some stuff while I waited for it to dry very well, as recommended by Sarah Lena.
I put the top coat on and, DUDE! You can watch it crackle in, like, seconds! I was totally impressed! I put a pretty thick coat on, and I don't know if I'll try to be a little less liberal next time, but so far, I like it! It feels pretty dang cool! Also, it's incredibly difficult to take a picture of my hand that I like... not cut out for modeling it seems. But, I have super-funky nails at the moment and I think it's nifty. I did have to put a topcoat on because the texture is a little weird for me.

Now for the not-so-frivolous-but-definitely-expensive category:
My Clarisonic Mia! I've been reading too much Temerity Jane, because I keep wanting to say "You guys!" but... well I don't actually say that much. Or do I? I can't remember anymore. Being a mimic is dumb sometimes. Anyway, my Clarisonic. I'd heard lots about them from, you know, everyone at every cosmetic store ever, and... well, I just wasn't interested in paying $200 for a gadget for my face. Then they came out with a little one, for only $150, and I still wasn't interested, and then 2 thing happened that tipped me over the edge and made me start saving my allowance pennies to get one. The first, and most obvious: I tried one. I got a facial at some make-up counter somewhere and I could actually feel the difference in my skin. It was really nice. Then, they showed me that I could get a purple one.
Ok, yeah, that was the clincher. I've been using it every day for a week now and I am just so happy. My skin hasn't been this clear in a year (stupid hormones) and it's nicer to touch and I don't use as much lotion because everything sees to go farther and last longer. The only thing I don't like is the smell of the cleanser that came with it, so I switched to my Devonshire liquid peppermint soap and DUDE! That's a refreshing wake-up. No coffee required! It will jump start your morning in a hurry. (Also, maybe I need to stop saying "dude" but it's that kind of day).
I also got an extra scrubber-head-thingy for the husband: deep pore cleaning. That way it's a "shared" thing, even if it is purple, and I should mention he asked me to get him one, so he wanted this too. And we both love it. Skin is clearer and softer and we are happier. Win!

So... this doo-dad was neither expensive nor frivolous. Jeremy got it on one day, and it is the best pet-groomer thingy ever. I mean, we've never used a Furminator on our pets, but some friends have some for their beasties, but I love this because it has a little button at the bottom that pushes a... well, the bristles stick up out of this plate, and the button pushes the plate up and thus pushes all the hair that you brushed off the bristles, and that is just great. Super convenient and wonderful. 2 out of 3 cats love being brushed by it and the dog tolerates it the way he tolerates most things that aren't playing outside or belly rubs: with quiet dignity.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cancer is the bad kind of diva

I forgot my dad had cancer.

I mean, I didn't erase it from my memory, expunging all thoughts of his diagnosis and treatment. (Expunge is a fun word to say. Go ahead, try it out.) No, I just... sort of forgot.

3 years ago, the Monday after Father's Day he called to tell us about the last in a series of tests to try to figure out why he was having ulcer-like symptoms that were getting worse, not better with multiple different treatments, and oh yeah, they couldn't find an ulcer. What they found instead was Stage IV pancreatic cancer all up in his liver. That was an interesting day, in the way of the Chinese curse/blessing thing that says "may you live in interesting times" which I have no source reference for, other than my husband says it sometimes.

After that initial diagnosis, we found out that it was the GOOD kind of pancreatic cancer, if you can imagine such a thing. Well, there's a "most likely dead within a year" kind and the "maybe dead within five years" kind. My dad has the same kind as Patrick Swayze, who, as a bizarre side note, attended the same high school as my mother, though not at the same time. Small world, eh?

So, the good kind of cancer, 18 months of chemo with some really great doctors. MD Anderson gets a lot of thanks from us. Dad being made of awesome and stubborn and no small amount of knowledgeable did research to find the best doctors and he went in ready to fight and win. He's always had such an amazing outlook on all this. He's been hopeful and determined, even when sick and tired of being sick and tired. I really admire his guts. And the rest of him too.

I won't go into the details of how much chemo sucks, because I honestly don't know. I know that it was hard to see my dad sick. At one point, I hardly recognized his face. He'd lost so much weight he didn't even look like himself. The hair loss thing wasn't really an issue since he'd long since joined the shiny-pate club. As a kid I remember telling people that I'd gotten his red hair and that's why he didn't have any. I know that it was hard to see my mom tired. I know that it was amazing to see the way they talked and loved each other and got through some truly awful stuff. And they did get through it. There was a lot of prayer, a lot of laughter, a lot of morbid humor about what sort of container to put Dad's ashes in eventually. I think we decided on some sort of champagne bottle. I was really rooting for an Erlenmeyer Flask, so someday we could put Mom in a Florence Flask and have a matched set. Humor, it's how we survive tough times in my family.

Then, after that, it was, "Hooray Stable Disease!" and on with life. Stable Disease is a strange sort of victory. It means that nothing is growing, but it's not going away either. Well, what it did go away from was my conscious thought. My dad seemed like himself again- happy, healthy and doing all the stuff he'd always done. After those first few scans that confirmed that everything was still the way we'd left it, we adapted to the "new normal" and moved on. We still used the "good china" and the "nice" everything every chance we got. We talk more and maybe say things more openly than before, but other than that--things when back to normal. So I forgot. I mean, when he stopped chemo, he told us all very plainly that this wasn't the end of the story. He's a scientist, through and through. Rational, analytical, practical. He made sure we knew that this was just an intermission, but we all hoped it would be a long one. We wanted years to go by before we dealt with this again.

But cancer is kind of a bitchy diva. It always wants to be the center of attention. I think that's what I hate most about it. I have to remind myself that my dad is more than a bunch of stupid tumors. I want to make a bad pun/metaphor/analogy thing about cancer rapidly growing and killing all the normal thoughts and replacing them with cancerous ones, but I just can't make it work. That's sort of the sad truth though. All thoughts seem to go through some sort of cancer filter and I just want to punch my brain in the face sometimes because life does not revolve around you, Cancer!! Which makes me laugh because I can't even remember the number of times my father said that to me growing up. "The world does not revolve around you." Usually when I was in trouble for doing something without thinking about the consequences beyond the fact that I wanted to do it. It took me a lot of years to understand what he meant by that.

Anyway, the world does not revolve around cancer. My dad is more than just some tumors that are being treated, again. After 18 months of travel and hobbies and margaritas in the pool, he's back in treatment. It's not the end of the world. His doctor is very hopeful, and so is he. He's a pragmatic fighter, aware of all the associated risks and yet still hopeful. It's more than amazing to see. And my mom... I mean, I've always known that she was the kind of strong that "Steel Magnolias" is all about, but seeing her be the very definition of the phrase "help-meet" is humbling and inspiring and wonderful. They celebrated 42 years of marriage last month. They've been together two thirds their lives. Crazy, innit?

So, chemo again. It's... it's just life now. When I think of my dad, I try not to think of symptoms and side-effects of drugs that can't be exposed to sunlight or touched with bare hands. I think it's awesome that Dad gets to take his chemo pills with a dollop of whipped cream to help them go down smooth. I'm totally using that excuse for my uber-foul tasting vitamin D supplement from now on. See, that's the kind of thing that is so very my dad--finding small bright sides, even in CANCER.

To quote me, which is probably tacky, but I don't care: "...get your parts checked regularly. All of them. If you've got habits that increase your risk, cut it out. Use your fancy dishes and make special occasions a regular occurrence. Live your life abundantly. That is all."

Monday, July 11, 2011

2 Second Stories

I don't have any one topic on which to base an entire blog post, unless the topic is the kind of congolmeration thingy that I'm creating here which is the 2 Second Story. You know, those stories that seem like they'd be really good until you try to tell them and realize that they consist of one sentence of set-up, one escalation and no punchline? Yeah, those. I have a handful of those at the moment, so I'm going to tell you some of my best (worst?) 2 Second Stories.

  • At the clothing swap, one of the best features is that you get instant feedback from your girlfriends on whether or not stuff is worth keeping. So I was trying on these shoes that looked awesome, but I really don't need another pair of black heels, especially not anything that would make me 6'3" but I'm a sucker for Oxford detailing and then a friend exclaimed "Holy crap! Those shoes are so great I just want to lick your leg!" So yeah, I kept them.

  • I made a typically me-type statement of the obvious earlier today and I told my co-worker Joel to contain his surprise. He responded by saying something about "Shock and Awe" and I informed him that there was a dance move with that name, but I wouldn't be demonstrating it because I still had some semblance of pride left.

  • Once, I arrived at a party for new friend with my old friend Andrea. Having just met this New Friend, we didn't know any of her friends, so upon walking into the living room of said party, I looked about, and with a wave said, "Hello room full of people I don't know!" Andrea sort of died a little on the inside because she would never call attention to herself in that way but I'm that kind of obnoxious.

  • I'm not sure how I manage to hold completely contradictory thoughts in my head at the same time. I know it's called cognitive dissonance but it makes no sense that I consider myself both to be fairly likeable and make friends easily and to know that I am full of many off-putting and obnoxious habits.*

  • I need to learn to control myself when I find things funny because I can't always explain particular inside jokes in the office place. There's got to be a way to keep from giggling when my boss asks me if the ringing from the other room is my cell phone, because, no, it's not. It's never my cell phone when people ask me if it's my cell phone. Just because one time I happen to let out a rumbler on a wooden bench and someone mistook it for a cell phone on vibrate... that one time has led to a new code phrase, and no, it's not my cellphone. I'm just gassy.

  • I recently have been irritated by just about everything from the way my pants are touching my legs to the wheels on my chair not rolling in any sort of ideal fashion, but mostly I've been irritated by the fact that I don't want cable, but there are 2 shows out now that I really want to watch and can't get on Hulu. Grrrr. Argh.

  • I am the trifecta of mosquito deliciousness (pasty, pudgy & redheaded) and yet I just learned last night that you can kill them by leaving a shallow dish of soapy water for them to drown in. Something about surface tension and I don't care--just stop biting me!!

Also, I am wearing goldfish on my feet today:

*I think the answer is to find people with similar or complimentary obnoxious habits. So far, so good!

Friday, July 8, 2011

It's about my closet again

Alright, so I'm talking about my cloest again.

I tried to avoid it (for all of a day, but that's a long time in Bean-years), but I can't, or rather, don't want to. While I did think to myself, "my blog, my rules" and perhaps stuck my tongue out at potential naysayers, the truth is it's just what I've been up to, therefore I'm thinking about it.

There just isn't a lot going on in my life at the moment. QAL is on our holiday break, and while I miss everyone terribly, I'm going to be seeing them next week for a dinner thing anyway. I went to my parents place for the 4th (well, the 2nd really, but we were celebrating Independance Day since my hubby had to work on the actual holiday) and I floated around in the pool and drank Rahr beer, had dinner and had basically a perfect and relaxing day. I got sunburnt, because I usually don't have my leg parts in the sun (as they are underwater) but I spent the majority of my pool time on a floaty thingy that exposed said leg parts to the vicious sun, and thus I was a lovely shade of pink all down to my toes. Ah, thank goodness for Solarcain! I also did makeup for the first wedding that wasn't mine on Saturday. It was fun, the bride was happy and beautiful, so that went off without a hitch. I went on a dining adventure on Wednesday to a little hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant in Plano that is probably destined to remain a hole-in-the-wall. It advertised "5 star cuisine at 2 star prices" but I'd have to say it's pretty much 3 star all around. Not bad at all. In fact, I really enjoyed my meal, but not really anything to write home to Mom about, or you know... blog about. Work is work. Things are a-foot and there are some changes coming down the pipes but it's all boring internal process stuff and totally not blog worthy.

So you see, this closet stuff is really the most interesting thing on my plate! I don't care what that says about my life that my closet is the most interesting thing at the moment. My friend Bill wrote a novel! An entire novel! He's not even the first of my friends to do that, though he's the first one to let me read it and give feed back on it, and he's got a short story/novella thingy being published. I mean, I know interesting people, but at the core of it, I'm not the most fascinating individual. I'm good at small talk and make a fairly lively addition to most social functions, but I also spend lots of time thinking about the contents of my sock drawer. Did I mention that I have a ridiculous number of purple socks? I do.

Also, in making hard decisions on what clothes to keep, it's forced me to actually, you know... wear some of the stuff that I was determined to keep. I had to prove to myself that I would wear it and like it. This has made my wardrobe seem different without actually being any different. I'm forcing myself to wear some of the 90 shirts that I keep around instead of the same 10 or 12 that I keep washing and wearing because I remember them. Does anyone else have that closet amnesia thing? In sorting through sweaters, turtlenecks, t-shirts, dress shirts, semi-casual shirts, shirts that I could wear to work but probably won't, shirts for going out to dinner with friends and what-not, I had a lot of "OH YEAH!" moments. I don't have amnesia for pants, because honestly, after the Great Pantsless Scare of 2011 I know the exact location of all my pants at most times. And even though I only own 11 pairs of shoes, I usually only wear 2 of those at time--wait, I only wear one pair at a time, but there is usually a pair of pairs that are in heavy rotation: for example, at the moment, it's black & brown sandals, it being 100 degrees most days. Anyway, so with only 2 or so pairs in rotation* it is posible to forget about pairs of shoes too. I forgot that I have a pair of sparkly red tennis-style shoes, though I would never play tennis in them as they tend to cut into my heels a bit and I am also tragically uncoordinated in a sportsmanship type way. I also forgot that I had a pair of ridiculously high-heeled shoes with ankel straps that I wore for New Years Eve and then never again outside the house, so... there's that. Closet Amnesia. I think it's a real thing.

On Sunday, I'm having people over to peruse the stuff I removed from my closet and I will peruse the stuff they bring and it will be lovely, but really, I'm very proud of the progress I made. I took pictures. If I was smart, I would have taken "before" pictures, but I didn't, and although I did contemplate going back and staging some dramatic recreations of what things looked like before, I don't have quite that much time on my hands. Time enough to take pictures of the work I've done but not time enough to plan this sort of before and after post in advance when there would have been a more reasonable way of getting "before" pictures.

The grand total of "stuff" gotten rid of (which includes shoes and some accessories) totals 1.5 drawers:

half drawer not shown because it contains unmentionables... 2.5 shelves in the closet

and roughly 3.5' of hanging closet space.

The desire to fill all that space is... very strong. I have some small amount of willpower, however, because I went to Target with a gift card and didn't buy ANYTHING. That's kind of crazy for me since usually I can spend $50 at Target without breaking a sweat, but I resisted all the tops and shoes and pajamas and sheets and towels and stuff. It was difficult, but I preservered. Of course, it totally helped that I had already purchased shoes on the internet.

*"Rotation" is also a euphemism, in this case, for "on the floor of the bedroom/bathroom/living room/kitchen/wherever I took them off"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wednesday already...

I warn you in advance the segues between thoughts in this post are fathomable to no one... not even me...

One of the things I love about my job is the flexibility. The other is the people, but the people don't really contribute to my lack of awareness of the days. Somehow, without a strict 8-5, Mon-Fri schedule, the days start to blur together. Add on top of that a holiday on Monday and my whole week is skewed. Yesterday, I couldn't figure out why my Monday comics hadn't updated even though on Monday I was very excited that they *had* updated, even though it was a holiday. It's a strange sort of sleep-amnesia where I forget everything after I wake up. Well, not everything. I still remember my name, who I am, who my friends & family are, that there are a bunch of bills to be paid and OH! I have lots of fun stuff on its way to me from the INTERNET! Like grey mary janes... I KNOW!

I love my dog. I do. He still drives me crazy when he chews my things... namely my shoes. The only pair of heels I own at the moment, and they were FABULOUS! Cute black leather mary jane type heels with great 2" heels that were somehow comfortable ALL DAY... he chewed the strap right off... So, out into the internet I went, off to shop for shoes. I was rather successful and bought 3 pairs, bringing the total number of shoes that I own up to 10. That seems reasonable. The only thing that's missing is a pair of brown flats, and I think I have a pair hiding under the bed somewhere... so, 11. 11 pairs of shoes is reasonable and suits all of my needs. On this day. That's more shoes than pants, which I think is an acceptable ratio.

"I love the fishes 'cause they're so delicious! Gone Goldfishin'!" This mid-post jingle brought to you by the Pretzel Goldfish I'm snacking on. You're welcome.

Last week, my prize from the internet was a new camera, since my old one died, and I have to say, although I haven't taken very many pictures with it yet, I'm super impressed with the shutter speed and its ability to get clear pictures from a moving vehicle. Don't worry, I wasn't driving at the time... In addition to its superb function, the camera itself is pink, so, you know... that makes me happy too. There was a brief time in college when I was more grrrl than girly, but that was a small blip in an otherwise uninterrupted sea of frills. Tough just isn't one of those things that I was cut out to be. I mean, when the time calls for it, I can get dirty and I break nails doing hard work (but I also break them doing minimal work, like unbuttoning my pants), but for the most part I do my work, then go get frilly. I don't wear makeup on a regular basis, but I love playing with it. I wear more pants than skirts, but I love the chance to wear heels and dresses. I don't know, I think my friend Andrew summed it up best when he said I was the most low-maintenance high-maintenance girl he knew... or maybe it was a high-maintenance low-maintenance girl... anyway, something like that. His explanation had something to do with drinking whiskey straight and sitting on concrete floors waiting for bands while coordinating my sneakers to my earrings... or something like that.

My husband and I suffer from Horizontal Surface disease. He suffers more from my condition than he realizes, but he's got a case of it too. Every horizontal surface in our house is at risk of becoming covered with clutter. It's not a particularly intentional thing, but stuff just seems to sort of end up there. I mean "stuff" in the most generic of terms because it's everything from mail to shoes to jewelry to USB drives to whatever happened to be in our hands at the moment when we decided that the nearest horizontal surface was the perfect place for whatever it was. This causes great consternation when I try to find things, because I know I've seen it about, but I can never quite remember which of the 14 possible locations it might be hiding in. Every few months or so I go on a rampage and clean off all those surfaces and I'm so pleasantly surprised at how wonderful my house looks when free of clutter. You'd think I'd keep it that way, but slowly the clutter creeps back in. It seems so innocuous at the time. "Oh I'll just set this here while I go get that other thing, then I'll put it away." Only, I never seem to get around to the putting away and nine times out of ten that other thing will wind up right next to it. It's an identifiable pattern and as yet I haven't found a way to break the cycle.

For now, I'll start my clearing off a 2" square of space next to my computer. That should be enough progress for one day!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Found and Lost

So, with this whole Blathering thing going on, I've been reading more blogs than I ever have in my whole life! That's not an exaggeration. It's also not all that impressive seeing as how the blogs I've read in their entirety equal only 2 (unless you count my own, but I don't because I wrote it and so I don't really read it except in a "proof" sort of way) and the number of blogs that I casually peruse & see what's new on is still less than the number of years I am old, so to say there was an increase isn't as dramatic as I wanted it to be, but it is true nonetheless. (Side note: How is that all one word? None the less... did we just use the phrase so often that it became a compound word? Are there any other 3 or more word compound words out there that I don't know about?)
So, in my searching around for blogs of the people I might be meeting in October, I came across some cool stuff. I, foolishly, thought I would remember the name of these cool blogs, or at least be able to find them again the same way I found them the first time. I was wrong on both counts. It seem that much like the door to Narnia, some blogs cannot be found the same way twice (except of course in the beginning of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe where they get into Narnia the same way the first 3 times, but somehow that doesn't count). It seems that I played a very complicated game of blog leap frog, jumping to a new one via links people had put in blog posts, or on their side strip thingy of recommendations. Only one do I remember, and that's because it's hard to forget a fabulous blog name like "A little pregnant" because I was always taught that pregnancy was a binary state: you are or you aren't, with nothing in between. Real life is always messier than those science text books.

Anyway, in my internet wanderings I found some stuff that I wish I could find again. The first blog I remember almost NOTHING about other than the author posted pictures of her cute new haircut. It was perfect! I wanted it! That is actually kind of remarkable since I generally don't like short haircuts when the thought comes to applying it to my own head, but this woman seemed to have similar hair to mine (very fine, no curl, but possibly lots of it) and when she put a headband on it was just perfect. With it in front of her ears it looked sort of medium longish, and when she tucked it back it looked medium shortish and I thought that was just brilliant. As it turns out, none of that is enough to find her again using the google.

The other blog I found and wanted to get back to actually had a woman who had recently cut her long hair short again as well, which isn't the primary thing I remember about the blog, but I remember that part because it within was the discussion of the history of her hair that the author mentioned having her hair long to perform Hello Dolly! at the International Thespian Festival held at the University of Nebraska in 1998. Now, I was a member of the International Thespian Society. I worked on or performed in every single play my school put on, except ONE (Marvin's Room- the very first play my freshman year) and so I got a lot of Thespian Points which are good for pretty much nothing that I can recall. I went to one and only one Thespian Festival and it was at what would be come my alma mater, which is kinda weird. We drove in a big van from Grayslake, IL to Lincoln, NE. We stayed in the Cather/Pound dorms and walked everywhere. I remember not getting lost because the city was a giant grid and that was nice. I don't remember all the shows that I saw, but I saw 3 or 4 plays a day, and I do remember seeing Hello Dolly because I'd never seen that musical before. I think we saw it at the Lied Center. Anyway, I thought it very random that in my poking around the internet I would run across someone who had not only been at that same festival, which in and of itself couldn't be that weird, there were kids from all over the country there just like us, but in one of only two shows that I actually remember seeing. The other show was, I think, Their Eyes Were Watching God, but I honestly don't remember even that much, because my brain is full of very earnest teenagers (of which I was one at the time) wearing black turtlenecks and waving their hands in silent applause. Seriously.

So somewhere out in the Internet are those two blogs and I have not a single identifying characteristic with which to google them. Maybe someday I'll hop the right lily pad and end up on their page again... maybe.

EDIT: I found one! The Anvil Tree is mystery blog #2.... now if only I could find #1....

Friday, July 1, 2011

I abuse grammar and punctuation to suit my whims

When it comes to good grammar, punctuation, and the like, I am an incredibly fickle beast. I'm a decent speller, though certain words seem to always give me trouble. For example: maintenance and sentence. I don't know what it is about the "ence" vs "ance" ending that gives me such fits, but it's a constant source of frustration. Also, guarantee. I guarantee that I have to think really hard to even come close to spelling that one right. I also want to point out that I've run "spell check" 4 times already in this post, and good for me, I got my trouble words right for once.

I don't really have a problem with most homophones in that I can pick the right one out of a line-up, although there is a story from my childhood that I retell quite frequently. It's about the day I came home from my first day of school in Texas and told my mother that I couldn't go back to school because my teachers were stupid. So, today's scenic detour takes us to New Braunfels, TX circa 1990. I was a bright, shiny 9 year old, just transferred from Navato, CA. It's January, and my first day in Language Arts, we were studying homophones. The teacher gives an example of words that sound alike but are spelled different (and for the life of me, it took forever before I could distinguish between those and homonyms or homographs, or whatever it is when the spelling is the same, but pronounced differently. I kept thinking of the example: read, reed, read and couldn't remember which was which). She wrote on the board READ (to read a book) and REED (some waterly plant thing) and then asked for other examples from the class. Things went really well at first. Students offered up BLUE and BLEW, RED and READ (thus cementing some of my homo-what? confusion which has nothing to do with sexual orientation). Then things started to get dicey. Someone raised their hand and offered... and in text this is much harder to do, because you'll see the error right away where as in real life, I was mystified until I saw it in writing. Oh, I digress. Here's what I heard:
"What about pin and pin?"
Me, thinking to myself as I am still The New Kid: um... what? Pin and pin? Is there another spelling for pin that I don't know? Does it mean something different? Am I going to learn a new vocabulary word?* Also, I didn't know "pin" had two syllables...
Teacher: Very good! (writes on the board PIN and PEN)
Me: um.... no

I was STUNNED. Shocked. I couldn't even believe what I was seeing. First, I understand that regional differences in pronunciation vary greatly, but in my head there was still "the right way to say words" and "everything else." So, of course, some other brave soul offered "tin" and "ten" up to be added to the list. So I sat quietly convinced that this class (not Texas in general, not even the town, just this class, this teacher) was too stupid for me to be a part of. Yeah, I was that kind of kid. And I went home and told my mother the story. I don't remember her response, but I do remember that I still had to go to school despite my reservations as to the intelligence of my teacher. Turns out there isn't a direct correlation between how you sound and how smart you are, despite popular culture and sterotypes. I did learn quite a lot in the Language Arts class after all. Like the fact that "proper" pronunciation** (as determined by... I guess Miriam Webster?) isn't required for a word to be considered a homophone. My dad even had a hard time with the names of my two best friends in highschool: Ginny and Jenny. To me, just like pin/pen, tin/ten there is a distinct difference. For him, not so much. And my dad is BRILLIANT, so... you know... there's that. Not that he couldn't tell the difference or couldn't pronounce the difference, it was just sort of a non-issue that there was a difference, you know? I'd say like the difference between the pink stuff & the blue stuff you put in your iced tea, but Dad was always a staunch supporter of the pink stuff, so that's not a good example. I can't think of a good example, but basically the two names were fungible in his head. Fungible is a word that he taught me, as is gesticulation. My dad is cool.

But I think I was talking about my own haphazard rules of grammar and punctuation.
  • My principal crimes:
  • Run-on sentences justified to myself by the over-use of commas
  • Blatant disregard for the semi-colon
  • Over use of ellipses
  • Perpetuating the double hyphen as a legitimate tool--for example, like this!
  • Misplaced modifiers and dangling prepositional phrases

Crimes I've been mostly cured of:
  • Ending a sentence with a preposition-though I admit, that the question, "Do you want to go with?" sounds perfectly fine to me and always has... you know what I mean, right?
  • Relying solely on spell check to catch my mistakes. I do actually try to proofread. I still make mistakes and then get 10 kinds of embarrassed that someone might think I MEANT to spell it that way and that sort of kills me a little inside, but then I fix it and get over it... mostly
I don't really have grammar pet peeves that I can think of at this exact moment so I'm going to go with the blanket assumption that I have none until such time as I see one and get all bent out of shape. Except homophones... those really get my bent out of shape...

*Smarty-pants side note--I ACED the vocabulary section of the "gifted and talented" assessment... what can I say, I like words. The spacial relations portion... well, that was less impressive

**also, I can't seem to spell this word right either. I've done it wrong both times--thanks Spell Check!
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