Wednesday, January 31, 2007
So yesterday, Isis and I both headed to the vendor. She was coming from much farther away, so I got there first and was escorted through the building. Since the vendor is located on the edge of downtown Chicago, they require a lot of security to keep the crazies out. They have these little key fobs that open all the doors--stairwells, front door, elevator, etc. I was led to a room on a floor that no one else was using and into a nice-sized room with two desks, a computer, a small sofa, and a nice window that let in tons of sunlight.
I got started on the work and was in a groove when Isis arrived. She got started on her pages, and we sat in silence for a while, controlling ourselves from making any unnecessary changes. When we would finish something, we would call our contact and she would come get our pages and bring us more. Sometimes, there were lulls while we waited for production to get us more pages.
And so we started giggling.
We were both dressed professionally, taking our jobs seriously, and working very hard. But something about being in this little room on an empty floor all alone started to take its toll. And there was something very very funny about the giant #1 embedded in the carpet, and other numbers and letters that we found in the common area when we went for bathroom breaks. Isis was kind enough to capture the 1 with her camera phone for this blog entry. And then she said, "That takes a lot of work, you know. I know someone who did carpets--that's a custom job."
Pretty soon, we were laughing like school girls about everything. I suppose it might have been the pressure. It might have been the 1. I'm not sure. The day flew by. We kicked out a billion pages, and the sun moved away from our giant window. The white walls and fluorescent lights got funnier. We imagined we were being imprisoned. Conspiracy theories abounded--they didn't want us to see their offices because they were working with our competitors; they didn't have real offices; at then end of the day, they might kill us.
Now, to be fair, they were very very very nice people. They were stressed, but joyful, bought us lunch (yes, Terry, it was a little soggy!), had donuts and coffee waiting when we got there, and were a pleasure to work with. But something about being trapped in a high-security building all day with little-to-no communication with the outside world and hundreds of pages flying across our desks made us crack.
We laughed and laughed and laughed. Like we were 10. It was great.
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
This is suddenly reminding me of grade school track meets. The morning would be wet and dewy. The children would pile onto a bus and be driven over to the high school track field. Lunches would be soggy and packed into coolers. I hated track meets.
Given, no one is going to force me to run today, but there is something similar about the energy. I know I have a lot of work to do today. I know I have to finish this project today; tomorrow morning at the latest. There is simply no time left. Time to start sprinting.
Then again, I must admit that I'm somewhat excited to go visit the vendor. What are their offices like? Do any cute guys work there? Do they work across the street from the World's Most Fabulous Lunch Place?
And, since you all know about my Inner Nerd already, I'll go ahead and admit that the prospect of spending the day alongside designers and production people sounds like fun. I can make edits and watch them put them into action. And that will bring me one step closer to being DONE.
The thing about editors is that we are never really done though. We can always find one more error, one more thing that should be boldfaced or italicized. After looking at the content 8,000 times, we start to notice a sentence that seems a little wonky, or a widow hanging there that we're just dying to kill. Kill the widow.
But I have to stop myself.
Finish the project.
Make it happen today!
And then flirt with any cute designers before you leave...
Monday, January 29, 2007
My friends Tym and Twinkle have introduced me to my new addiction: audio books. I've always thought of audio books in the same way I think about tequila--I had a few bad experiences with them and therefore steer clear. But not anymore.
I've tried listening to audio books 3 times in the past. All 3 times I was driving to Portland, OR from Iowa. It's a long damn drive. The first book I tried was something by Anne Tyler. I can't remember which book it was, but the reader was terrible. The story was terrible. I kept trying--made it through a few discs, and gave up. Then I tried listening to a collection of short stories. It was some collection of the best short stories throughout history. The problem with collections like that is that the short stories from the early 1900s are not as interesting now as they probably were back then. Plus, listening to the same person trying to read each story slightly differently is a recipe for disaster. Finally, I tried listening to a collection from Prairie Home Companion. I used to listen to that show with my dad on lazy Sunday afternoons after church. Pa would settle onto the couch with his paper, and I would lie on the floor in a sunbeam with a pillow and listen to Garrison's soft voice. We called the show Prairie Chicken instead of Prairie Home Companion. It was peaceful and wonderful. So when I was trying to stay awake after two days of driving, Prairie Chicken almost lulled me to sleep as I drove through the rolly-polly hills of Montana. No more audio books for me.
Since I have moved to Chicago, I've taken public transportation. I sold my car shortly after moving here and rode the El for years. Then I moved to another neighborhood and started taking Metra. I hate public transportation. I hate the people, the delays, standing on platforms in freezing cold or blazing hot hair. I hate trudging through snow to get there and walking home in the dark. It's never a good experience. So now I have a car again and no longer take Metra. Yeah, I'm ruining the environment, OK? I realize this. But I've never been happier since I've been in Chicago.
Except I get a little bored.
My commute is something like 18 miles each day. I spend that time talking to Dorothy, my parents, or my long-distance friends on the cell phone. Or I listen to one of about 10 CDs that rotate through my CD player. Or I drive in complete silence, contemplating life. Recently, I noticed Tym and Twinkle talking animatedly at work about something. Turns out they were discussing audio books. Twinkle is hooked and got Tym hooked. Hmmm....interesting, I thought. Maybe I should try that.
So last week, I was super stressed and busy at work and needed a quick break. I went to the bookstore and stared at the wall of audio books. The problem with audio is that they only produce audio books of books that are fairly popular. All of which I've read. I searched and searched to find something that looked interested and was something I had never read before. Because of my past experience, I knew I had to get something that was fairly "exciting" so that I would not be lulled to sleep somewhere on Ashland after a long day.
I've seen a lot of John Grisham movies--The Firm, The Rainmaker, etc. But I've never read one of his books. I'm not big on technothriller as a genre. But something about The Innocent Man spoke to me. It said, "I will keep you awake. I will interest you because you like murder stories. I am nonfiction. Buy me!" So I did.
Let me tell you, I'm fascinated. I told Tym and Twinkle about my happiness and they both sported huge grins like they knew that I would love it. They also showed interest in borrowing the book, which is awesome because then I can borrow theirs. I didn't mind my commute last week, and I'm looking forward to it this morning. WTF? An audio book I like? I like the narrator, who sounds like an older, grandpa-ish type guy, the story is interesting (anything that starts with a description of a crime scene usually gets me going), and there are 10 CDs, which means it will take a loooong time to get through the book. YEAH! When I went to work the other morning, I sat in the parking garage a few extra minutes so I could keep listening. Me likie.
Now, I'm not promising this is an incredible book and that you should go out and buy it now or anything like that. I'm just saying the experience is totally working for me. My parents have always loved audio, and I know that Dorothy listens to audio on her commute sometimes, too. I always thought audio was cheating somehow, but not anymore. It's just another great way to read great books.
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Webster is totally in love with the new window treatments. He is so happy and content. I did it all for the cats, you know.
Recently, Scribbit wrote a great post about fun, simple things to do with the kids. Then yesterday, Coco told me she was going to go "fake camping" with her son this weekend in his bedroom. She was going to build a tent out of some chairs and a sheet. I kinda wanted to come over. I love these easy, simple games that don't require money, gadgets, or a whole lot of brain power (especially after a long work week).
This all got me thinking about the things I used to do when I was growing up on the farm. We had 3 television channels, no video game systems (until the Nintendo came along with Duck Hunt--can't remember what year that was...), no sidewalks, concrete, friends, playgrounds, basketball courts, etc. Dorothy and I were left to use our imaginations. It was magical.
A few years back, I watched a show on PBS where a couple of families were sent to live in the 1800s for a few months. It was called Frontier House. The families moved out in the middle of nowhere and pretended they were early American settlers. Needless to say, this was not an easy adventure or a smooth transition for most of them. But at the end, a little boy, I think it was this kid, said something like, "It was wonderful--I had to use my imagination." Even he was amazed when he said it. Like he had never used it before and was so excited that he got the chance. I tell ya, I almost cried. I was so happy.
Here are some activities I did as a farm child. I have no regrets. I was so blessed to be raised out in the middle of nowhere--I loved it:
- Going down to the little creek by my house with my cousins and making dishes and food out of the clay from the bank. We let it dry in the sun and had a whole little community down there. We also found shell fossils and would pretend we were archaeologists.
- My cousins and I found miniature invisible fairies living in a tree in a horse pasture. Mine was named Zelda and she lived in an invisible box around my neck and came out to sit on my finger.
- I wrote a newspaper called "The Daily Muppet" on my father's ancient computer (that he made himself out of a television set). Simple articles and puzzles were in each episode.
- There were a billion farm cats. My cousins and I would hold Cat Competitions in the front yard and our great aunt would be the judge--complete with award ribbons.
- I would ride my bike around in circles in the garage (the only flat concrete around) and pretend I was an orphan that was being interviewed by Barbara Walters (don't ask).
- My sister and I would go play in the barn where we kept hay for the horse. We would climb up the bales and create stories about our fantasy lives.
- Climbing behind the bushes in front of the house to make a little nest out there and pretend I lived in the forest.
- Long walks down the country lane to look for birds, interesting twigs, and animals.
- Softball in the front yard with my extended family.
- Hitting golf balls into the fields in Grandpa's back yard, playing in his corn wagon, pretending to ride the propane tank like a horse, laughing at the silver on my legs, not realizing it was FLAMMABLE...
- Holding dance classes with Kate in her parent's driveway and telling the invisible class to TAP TAP TAP!!!!
- Playing dress-up with tons of old, used clothing and jewelry.
- Using my mother's spices, some water, and some butter to make horrible-smelling "dishes" on the stove.
- Writing plays, songs, movies, musicals, you name it, and making my parents watch while I performed them.
- Pretending to be Cinderella and cleaning (that was fun?).
So many more...such good times. Here's to using the imagination!!
Friday, January 26, 2007
It seems like a rough time for a lot of people I know. Are the stars out of alignment or aligned or something? Very Bad Things are happening to my friends in rapid succession. WTF? What is going on? Does anyone know?
Last summer I was going to take a quick weekend trip to the farm when the dreaded No Liquid on the Planes thing happened. I woke up to prepare for the flight only to turn on the TV and see 4 hour lines at Ohare and Midway. Hell no, I said. I was only going home for a day and a half, so the trip did not seem worth the trouble. It's hard enough to get through Chicago airports when they are operating normally. So I canceled the flight. And guess what?? Dorothy is now going to use the flight to come see me for my 30th birthday in May! Whoooopeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!
If you are having trouble with a lightbulb that constantly goes out, try this trick: buy a garage door light bulb (regular bulb, but can handle shaking). I have two lights in my private stairwell thingie and they were always going out like maybe every 3 months. They are really hard to get to and you have to use a ladder and kind of dangle out over the staircase. I'm scared of heights, so when those lights go out, I'm screwed. Pa thought maybe they were going out because the landpeople are walking around up there and shaking the lights a lot. Hmmm...interesting thought. So he came to visit and we went and bought garage door light bulbs. Installed. Haven't gone out since. (Hear that sound? That's me knocking on my wooden desk.) So if you have a goofy light that always goes out, try the garage door lights. They are VERY strong.
I still have my cold from last weekend, complete with the sore throat, so I think I'm going to stay in this weekend again. It's been a long week (didn't leave work last night until 7pm), so I could use a relaxing weekend with the kitties on my lap and maybe a little dollhousing.
Macoosh wanted to know why I would be blogging before 7AM. Macoosh, we can thank King for this. He puts his little mouth right up my nostril and lets out a loud MAR. Then he purrs and kneads my neck until I crawl out of bed. Gotta love kitties!!!!
How's that for a random post?
Thursday, January 25, 2007
When your project has somehow snuck over its deadline and you are feeling quite stressed at work because you have too many emails, phone calls, meetings, deadlines, questions, answers, Post-Its, memos, specs, intra-office envelopes, papers, etc., it helps to come up with a daily destressing project.
- Acknowledge your inner nerd. Listen to her. Allow her to come out without fear of the coworkers. Tell her to ignore any giggles or odd facial expressions she may encounter.
- Go buy a puzzle. Find one that is reasonable in size--300 to 500 pieces.
- Go in the back room at work and find a large cardboard box. Cut it in such a way that you can shut it during the evenings and put it on top of your bookshelves or under your desk or something.
- Attach a note to the box that says, "Please do not move or touch--thanks!" Something like that. This will keep the cleaning people from tossing the box at night. (But it will NOT stop them from deciding to steal one piece a day from the puzzle just to piss you off--which you will never know about until The End of the Puzzle.)
- At lunchtime, pull down the puzzle and get to work. Notice how the stress of work fades away as you methodically search for colors and shapes. Feel the stress draining OUT of your body as you enter your Own Little Puzzling World.
- Ignore any coworkers who walk by and give you a little smile and look like they want to pat you on the head because you're "so cute."
- When lunchtime is over, become aware of how relaxed you feel. Sit back and take a deep breath, realizing the Real Work is about to begin again. Nod to yourself as you realize You Can Do It! because you just relaxed for a 1/2 hour while puzzling and it feels great.
- Acknowledge that you have now developed a large crush on the man in the puzzle. Start referring to him as your "boyfriend."
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
See the pretty, new (wrinkled, give me a break) curtains? So pretty. Purrrrrrr. I know you can't really tell what they look like in the pic, so here is a close-up of the pattern. They are a really light tan color.
Last night on the way home, I realized that I wanted to finish the window project now that I have a fresh paycheck. One problem: I received a 20% off coupon to Bed Bath & Beyond in the mail, but I forgot it at my house. Go to house for coupon? Forget it. Because if I went home, I would want to sit down on the couch and would never leave again. I'm still hanging on to a cold that is making me feel like crap (and making my throat hurt which is bizarre because my throat has not hurt EVER since I had my tonsils taken out back in 1992, but whatevs). I knew I had to go straight to BBB or it wasn't gonna happen. I figured that certainly they would have some spare coupons, right?
So I go to the customer service department and ask if they have any spare coupons. NO. The woman looked at me like I had asked for her first-born. She was really rude about it and reeked of LIAR. So I thought maybe I'd ask the cashier to hook me up and walked away.
I decided against the sheers after I realized how much I love my privacy and just couldn't handle the thought of a neighbor seeing my fat roll after a nice, steamy shower when I parade through the living room nekked. So I went to the clearance section and found two really nice panels for 30% off. Then I grabbed two cheapie tension rods and lolled around a bit. Just then, I heard my name. "Blondie, please come meet your party at the front of the store. Blondie, please come to the front of the store."
I considered going to the front of the store for a moment, but then realized I was not with a party and no one knew I was at BBB except my parents. Seriously, the odds of running into someone I know in Chicago are like .0000004598734%, so I ignored the page. After walking around a little more, I made my way to the front.
Then she saw me. A total stranger came my way and said, "Excuse me?" Now, at this point I have to stop the story to say that strangers talk to me all the time and I HATE IT. Latina says it's because I have an "open, friendly face." I say they just want something from me. Pinkie always laughs at me when we go to lunch and complete strangers talk to or yell at me. For a while, she didn't believe me that everyone on the street seems to talk to me (they want money, cigarettes, directions, etc.), but she has since learned the truth. They are drawn to me like I'm a rotting deer carcass and they are a VERY hungry buzzard. So anyway, I was about to bitchslap the stranger...I mean casually walk away from whatever she was selling...when she reached into her purse and pulled out a 20% off coupon. She said, "I overheard you ask for one of these. I have a lot of extras. You want this?" I was FLOORED. A nice stranger? Giving instead of taking??? WTF? In Chicago??
She did not page me. I have no idea who she was. But I was drawn to the front of the store because of the page and curiosity and there she was in all her coupon glory. I thanked her, started to walk away, thanked her again with extra emphasis, and saw God. OK, God wasn't in BBB, but I was happy.
And now I have these. Full price? $34.99 per panel. Blondie price? $16 for one and $13 for the other, thanks to the stranger.
Wondering what happened to the too-short sheer? Well, one went next to the fridge and the other is now in the bathroom. To keep my ancient neighbor lady from seeing my naked ass and dying of a heart attack, I decided to reinforce the bottom section of the window so she can't see through it.
And as I told Pa last night, now that my house is pretty much perfect, I'm almost 100% certain the new landparents will evict me in April. Because that is my true luck, unlike the random luck I encountered last night.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
My mother is an amazing woman. For the last 20-something years, she has diligently kept the toys that Dorothy and I played with as children. Given, the woman has an amazing amount of storage space in her house, but still. I wonder to myself--would I keep my children's toys until they were adults? Probably not. I would probably sell/toss just about everything. I thought it was a little odd that she kept all these toys for all these years until I saw the bright, excited face of my niece when her eyes landed on the Littles Dollhouse that Dorothy and I argued over for many years when we were kids. There it was in all its glory--stocked full of furniture, dolls, looking just as new as it did in the mid-1980s. Thank you, Ma. It made my day.
I knew Ma was going to drag out the Littles Dollhouse at Christmas, so I had to dig way back into my memory and finally resolve an issue from my childhood. When we were little, Pa built a TV stand out of metal and wood. It looked like a giant tic-tac-toe grid and the TV went in the center. One day I was punishing the baby Little for crying. It needed a time-out. I got a chair and pulled it up to the TV stand. I reached up and put the baby on the top of the tic-tac-toe grid. When much to my HORROR, I realized there was no "lid" on the top of the metal pieces. I cringed as I listened to the baby Little fly down the rectangular tube-thing--clinking toward its fate. Lost. Lost forever.
There was really no way to get the baby out of there without dismantling the TV thing. So years went by, and my guilt about losing the baby Little grew. Enter Christmas 2006. Enter Ebay. $30 later, I had a new baby Little, AND a new mother and father Little:
After seeing her twinkling eyes (and ability to use the house as a lovely footrest), I decided to build Little a Princess House for her birthday gift. For those of you that are interested, this is the Greenleaf Arthur. It's an adorable house--much smaller than my monster one. Webster helped me begin construction this Sunday:
I have until the first week of April to get the Princess House in perfect working order. Little loves Ariel, Cinderella, and will soon love Belle if I get my way. So they will all live in the house and share rent and bitch about their men together.
Yes, it's true, I'm officially a miniaturist. Love it.
Sunday, January 21, 2007
The other day, Pa and I had a conversation about handwriting. I can't remember how it came up, but I mentioned that I had copied the handwriting of a childhood friend for YEARS before I discovered my own handwriting. Imitation comes in the strangest forms.
This girl, let's call her...Brownie...was perfect in my eyes when we were little. We grew up together (of course because she lived in my small town where no one ever left), but we were only close for the elementary years. She had naturally curly brown hair, a killer smile, and this amazing circular tooth in her bottom row of teeth (pulled later and fixed by braces). Oh, how I wanted that strange, little tooth to be in my own mouth. I thought she was perfect. I can clearly remember following her around like a puppy.
The best thing about Brownie was her loopy, giant handwriting. I did everything possible to write just like her. I practiced making huge letters, exaggerating round ones--dotting my I's with little circles when we went through that phase somewhere around fifth grade. But it was quite unnatural for my hand, and I never got it right. But boy did I try. When I was cleaning out my childhood closet last March, I found endless stacks of paper in this strange, foreign handwriting--so loopy, so wrong. I even found my social security card with my signature right there in all its loopy glory--signed when I was in fifth grade.
I can remember the exact moment I found my handwriting. I was in seventh grade science class and I had to write a two-page paper about the environment because Earth Day was coming up (remember when Earth Day was important?). Also here's a fun one--remember when we didn't write everything on a computer? Because I had to write out this paper by HAND and if it got too messy, I had to start all over again.
Anyway, I remember consciously "letting go" of Brownie's handwriting. It was time to embrace my own. I had no idea what was going to come out of my hand. After years and years of copying Brownie's style, what would my own handwriting look like? (Pa says you know exactly what your handwriting looks like when you're trying to quickly take notes in a college lecture--so true!) I put pen to paper and went for it.
My fear was that my teacher would think someone else had written my paper. I'd been in his class for a while, but he had never seen my "real" handwriting. In fact, would all my teachers think I was paying someone to write my paper? Would they think I was paying Dorothy?? Because after all that thought about having my "own" handwriting, when it came out, it looked very similar to Dorothy's. WTF? Dorothy and I are very different physically. And we have different colors of hair. And she's right-handed and I'm left-handed, so how the HELL did our handwriting come out so similar? Ma and Pa's handwriting looks nothing like ours. Do we have the handwriting gene from some distant great-great-great-great grandmother? Oh no!! I'm going to fail science class and never make it to college because I have Dorothy's handwriting! OK, so I was a little melodramatic about it. Go figure.
I don't remember what grade I got on the paper or if the handwriting issue ever came up, but that Earth Day in 7th grade, I found my handwriting. Years later, when I read The Bell Jar, I understood what Plath was getting at. Handwriting is a very personal thing, and when it starts getting all wonky for some reason, you feel like you are losing a part of yourself.
In 12th grade, I broke my left wrist when I slipped on the ice in my high school parking lot. I had to take finals so I could graduate early. I did NOT want to stay in high school for one more semester. So I took all of my finals by HAND with my right hand. And even though it was crooked and ugly, it looked remarkably similar to the handwriting from my left hand. Again, WTF? How did my right hand know how to copy my left hand? Perhaps it had a crush, just like I did on Brownie all those years ago.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
We are nearing the end of a gigantic project, which means I'll probably be working this weekend and also that I can barely read my own typing right now. Novels? Forget it? Bloody, serial-killer books? Nope. All I can read is captions. Which is why I LOVE US Weekly.
When I get really busy, I also forget to pick up my mail. I have a private entrance with a slot in the door that leads to my staircase that leads to another private door, so there is no danger of a tiny box outside filling up. I can just step over the mail on my way in or out (much to the dismay and confusion of any visitors) and get it when I have time. I get lots and lots of coupon thingies, junk mail, flyers, menus, etc. I tend to think everything on the floor down there is junkmail most of the time. So imagine my happiness when I came home tonight, scooped up all the mail, sorted it, and found tons of magazines AND catalogs. YES!! No thought required!!
Which is why I will catch up on your blogs this weekend--because I have no energy left to make sense in your comments sections. See Britney. See Britney date.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
I noticed a number of questions lately, so I will answer them right here for all to see.
Featherplume wanted to know what happened to the green chest of drawers between the first picture and the second in the "den" rearranging. If you look on the far left of the first picture, you will see part of the green chest. It used to be right next to the door and I would walk clumsily into it each time I went into the den. Now it is out of my way--much to the happiness of my knees and elbows!
Qofd wanted to know if I received a large amount of stimulants or coffee for Christmas since I have been so busy lately. I snorted a little bit when I read that one because most people consider me to be quite lazy (including myself). Yes, however, I have been quite the busy bee lately. In this case it is a cause-effect situation. The ex used to live in this apartment, and while I love the apartment itself, I don't love having memories of him all over in here. My redecorating is my way of ridding my apartment of all things ex--including furniture arrangement. It's amazing how different it looks in here now--like he never even lived here!!!! (good thing good thing good thing) And I've been watching too much HGTV...
...which brings me to jchevais...please tell me they have SOME version of Home & Garden television in France. It's a cable channel where they show home decorating shows all day long. It can suck in your brain and convince you to sand and paint something in about 30 seconds. It might be best if I stop watching it for a while though--it's become quite the addiction.
And last but not least, yes, jchevais, I have often thought of my little cardinal snow globe as a phoenix. In fact, when I went out with Pinkie a few weeks ago, we went to a tattoo parlor and I have now decided to get myself a lovely phoenix for the upcoming 30th birthday. I have a small angelfish tattoo on my ankle and I think the bird would look nice right next to it.
So there you have it. I know you weren't sure if you could go on living without the answers to these questions--I am glad to have assisted you.
(snicker snicker snort snort)
Monday, January 15, 2007
After watching one, simple half-hour program on HGTV, I became obsessed with rearranging my "den." This room was called the "second bedroom," when I was given the official tour, but it would be a very small bedroom, indeed. My theory is that because my house is so old (1800s) that the hardworking immigrants who originally lived here didn't give a thought to Bed Bath & Beyond or interior decorating. In fact, there were probably five men living in this room all at the same time while they steadily constructed Chicago one building at a time. But I digress...
So it started with the idea of moving the bookshelf. Buttercup gave me a beautiful bookshelf that her aunt built years ago and it just got plopped in the den upon arrival and never actually filled up with books. But moving one thing means moving another. Four hours later, I had rearranged all of the furniture in the den AND the living room.
Funny how that happens.
Saturday, January 13, 2007
This past week I didn't post very much because I was having some bad times. I had so many plans, parties, and visits with family and friends over the holidays that when I got back, I wasn't sure what to do with myself. This led to somewhat of a Downward Spiral and a Needing of the Shrinkydink, which ended when she said, "I think you're lonely." Huh? Could it really be that simple? Me thrashing around thinking of all the evils in the world and I'm...just...lonely? Turns out she was right. I was so used to being around my family and being so busy before Christmas making endless crafts for presents that I had almost zero down time. I was alone, but not lonely. When I got back, I was alone, which was fine. But then the weeks stretched on and I became lonely. Which is why tonight I'm going out with Buttercup and her 7 friends. By tomorrow, I will be happy to be alone again. And not lonely.
Tym is a wise woman, and our conversation got me thinking back to my college days when I took a lot of philosophy courses. I was young, eager for knowledge, drunk, boy crazy, and excited about life and my future. Which is why I was completely blindsided when my home burned down on March 30, 1999. I lived in a house that had 8 apartments and suddenly it was all gone. The day after, when the fire marshall let Sea Wee and I go inside, we were told not to touch or take anything. Of course I didn't listen, and I slipped this little cardinal snow globe into my pocket. If you look at the photo above, you can see the white inside contrasting with the outer snow where there is smoke damage. Out of all the belongings I was able to salvage, this is the one I care about the most. It is simple. Sweet. A pleasant reminder of a time of very very very Bad Fortune.
While in college, I read the Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius. You can click on the book title to read more about why the book was written and its powerful impact on the world since. In the book, Boethius talks about the Wheel of Fortune that Lady Fortune spins around. Sometimes you are up, and sometimes you are most decidedly down. My little snow globe reminds me of a time when I was very down. But I stopped to think this morning that even though I'm in a "down" time right now, I'm also in an up time. I have a great job, good friends, great family, enough money to rent an apartment and buy some books, beautiful kitties. Life is...good.
Because I have a crush on Diane Sawyer and watch GMA every morning, when I get home between 6:30-7:00pm and flip on the television, I have to see Pat Sajak. I hate Pat, really do. I also hate Vanna White. And I really really hate the game show Wheel of Fortune. Partly because it's annoying, partly because it reminds me of my grandpa, who passed away long ago. But perhaps my rediscovered knowledge of the workings of the Wheel and Lady Fortune will make me react differently when I flip on the television and see their blinding smiles. Perhaps I will convince myself to think of Boethius instead:
"If you think of your happy and unhappy circumstances both in number and in kind, you will not be able to say that you have not been fortunate until now. And if you think that you were not fortunate because these things have passed away which then seemed to bring happiness, these things too are passing away, which you now hold to be miserable, wherefore you cannot think that you are wretched now."
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
OK, ignore the nasty ceiling stains. Let's remember people, I don't own my property. I'm a renter. I can only do so much. But what can I do? I can put up window treatments! All over my apartment!
I'm not sure how it began. Perhaps jealousy of Average Jane and Terry started it--they both seem to have some nice remodeling-type activities going on. Perhaps it was the Feng Shui book from New Year's Eve. Perhaps it was spending a few weeks watching nonstop HGTV. But something inside of me roared up like a lion and told me I needed window treatments. Even where there are no windows. The above picture is of this little storage space in my bedroom that is right above my bed. It is full of board games, suitcases, painting supplies, and other stuff like that that my father says "would be in your basement if you owned a home." Ahem. Yes, it would. But since I don't own, I decided to finally cover it up after 3 years of looking at this eye sore. I went to the store, bought an 8 foot tension rod, and put up two kitchen curtains that are just the right length. Ahhhhh...pretty...
Then I moved on to the living room. After a lively conversation with Isis at work, I decided to go ahead and put up the curtains in the living room. Just that one room to give it a little face lift. The blinds are disgusting. Webster likes to chew on them, so there are little teeth marks in them. They are bent. And then there was the Fly Disaster last summer where a bunch of flies that were attracted to the vines growing on the outside of my building found their way in through the (cough) broken windows (yeah, those need to be fixed PRONTO, new Landparents--listening??). I put up some fly strips like the white trash that I am, and then of course Webster smashed his little body against the blinds and got the glue all over them.
I thought about sewing my own curtains. So did Isis, which is funny because neither of us can sew OR have sewing machines. We both also have a Murphy's Law problem, which means our curtains would have caused much heartache and pain. It was time to buy. I wanted sheers, even though this meant someone might be able to see inside from outside. Then I decided to just buck up and shell out the cash. Especially after taking another peek at that glue streak, which you can see in the photo below in the middle of the bottom right blinds.
I went to Bed, Bath, & Beyond (on a Friday night cause I have no life), and found the exact sheer I wanted and a tension rod. I remembered that I had measured the windows and they were 60 inches. But upon getting home, taking down the first blinds, cleaning the window, and hanging the treatment, I realized my windows were 6 FEET, not 60 inches. Oops. My engineering father would be so ashamed, I thought to myself...
Thank GAWD the blinds hardware was painted onto the top of the window and I couldn't get it off or I would have been mighty pissed trying to get it back on. Instead, I stood in my giant front window on a Friday night while the yuppies from the burbs tried to find parking on my street so they could relive the glory days in my neighborhood that night. I tried and tried, but I just couldn't get the blinds back on right. So now they are just hanging there, where a light breeze or a cat butt will knock them down any minute.
The next morning, I realized I had a new use for the too-short window treatment.
Stay tuned for the next installment, when I return to BBB for the rest of my curtains. And, of course, the Murphy's Law moment when my Landparents kick me out after I have finally figured out how to make this place pretty...
Monday, January 08, 2007
Something about Mondays makes me unable to focus on any one task for longer than about fifteen minutes. Because of this, you get these random thoughts:
- I had a lot of fun getting drunk while Pinkie watched last Saturday. King sure loved her purse. He even looks like he knows he may be doing something wrong by sitting on it, but he's going to do it anyway.
- I hope I like 24. I bought the first season on DVD. Everyone says it's so good. We'll see. I bet it can't hold a candle to Lost, but I'll give it a try.
- I just can't handle how freakin' loving and innocent those girls in Little Women are. Despite my best efforts at giving them a try, I think I'm going to have to abandon ship halfway through. Severed it is.
- I hate how the one condiment you can always taste even when you try really really hard to scrape it off is mustard. I hate mustard.
- I'm excited that I get Martin Luther King, Jr. day off even though my company merged with a new company. Both companies respect King, Jr. Yeah! Next Monday off!
- I really want to put on some comfy pants now and lie on the couch.
Friday, January 05, 2007
I've always had a fascination with the moon. Back on the farm, the skies were so clear that at night I could see every star in the sky. As I have moved on in life, each new city and sky shows me less and less of the universe, but the moon has always stayed visible, even in my big city of Chicago.
The items in the photo above represent some moonish times in my life. The little statue is of Artemis. A college friend of mine called me Diana and himself Acteon because of the Roman myth. And then there is the mosaic made by another friend when I lived in Portland. We did an art swap. I wrote her a story and she made me the art. I asked her to make the back side of my college dorm area. I could see these two buildings out my window, and at night, the moon would set between them. She captured my memory perfectly.
I mention all of this because the first card I drew out of the Native American medicine card deck on New Year's Eve was the Wolf. But there was something I didn't tell you about the cards, and my photo may have been a tad misleading. See, all of my cards were inverted. I righted them for the photo, but noticed that they were all upsidedown, which of course means something a little different than if they were rightside up.
The deck says that if you pull a contrary card, this represents an imbalance in the medicine. I think saying I had some inbalance in my life this last year is somewhat of an understatement. (snicker) So I was not surprised when every last one was facing the wrong way. I had shuffled the deck, realizing that some may come out that way, but I didn't think ALL of them would.
So the Wolf. Highlights about Wolf (from Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams & David Carson) are this: "Wolf is the pathfinder, the forerunner of new ideas who returns to the clan to teach and share medicine...senses of the Wolf are very keen, and the Moon is its power ally. The Moon is the symbol for psychic energy, or the unconscious that holds the secrets of knowledge and wisdom..."
Wolf inverted highlights: "If Wolf is reversed, you are being asked to expand your limited view of the present situation...The gift of wisdom comes to you when you have walked enough pathways and found enough dead ends to truly know the forest. In the discovery and rediscovery of every inch of ground comes the knowledge that nothing ever remains the same...Become Wolf, and take up the sense of adventure. You may just stop howling and learn how to become the moon."
Very nice again.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
I am always bewildered as to why people make resolution suggestions for me because I have never suggested a resolution for someone else. Sure, throughout the year I might try to force a friend or complete stranger to watch Lost, but I do not consider that to be a Resolution Bully technique. Although I might rethink it now that I am talking about not wanting others to force their ideas of a good time on me....
Last year, before I was ever aware of the horrors that would befall me in 2006, I made the resolution to "get through the year alive." It was a joke, and I felt I could keep it quite easily, so I went for it. I succeeded. Go me. So when it came to setting a resolution for this year, I wanted to make sure it was one I could keep. My answers to Other People's Suggestions?
Learn to Cook--no. I live alone, people. Buying staples is expensive, and throwing them away when they go bad is annoying. Maybe I will learn to cook someday, but for now, I'm going with canned goods and boxed meals.
Exercise More--no. When you live in a city like Chicago, you spend a lot of time walking around and carrying heavy things. I joined a gym last year and had a good time with it, but after the dumpage, I couldn't afford the expense each month. Plus, randomly, between last Christmas and this Christmas, I lost 24 pounds according to my mother's bathroom scale. (I like to tell people that depression is the Miracle Diet, but I think it has more to do with a medication switcheroo).
Quit Smoking--no. I'll get there. Nuf said.
Do More Travel--no. Again with the living alone and not having a travel partner. Something about traveling alone seems very isolating to me. I don't mind being alone in my own house or city, but something about a boxy, flowery hotel room makes me lonely if I'm by myself.
Go on Dates--no. Since quite a bit of time has gone by, my girls are wanting me to dip my toes into the world of dating again. While I would love a cuddle partner, scrolling through match.com makes me feel a little queasy. It will happen naturally, I figure. If not, when that itch comes, I'll scratch it.
Make Investments--no. I can't afford to buy housing--it's just not going to happen. My new landparents are pretty nice, so I'm doing fine for the moment. Plus, I need extra money to spend on miniature knives for the serial killer room in my dollhouse.
Join a Club--no. Another attempt to get me to go out and "socialize." I looked into chess clubs in Chicago, but they are all for high school students or stinky old men in church basements or Too Cool hipsters in coffee houses. I have a hard enough time keeping up with my friends as it is--I don't need more.
So now that I have put the smack down on Other People's Suggestions, I am going to share with you the resolution that I ME MYSELF came up with this year. (can you see my eyes twinkling?)
Yes, it's true.
Going to learn.
How to play backgammon.
There you have it. My resolution for 2007. Fabulous, isn't it?!
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Monday, January 01, 2007
Step 2: Prepare pint of Guinness and rip orange peels off and into bowl which is 2/3 full of water. Remember that your father told you all the scent in oranges is in the dimples. Bend the orange peels around to activate the dimples. Begin to enjoy the citrus scent and the Guinness. Giggle at the word "dimples."
Step 3: Realize that you get horrible heartburn whenever you eat oranges. Sigh loudly. Offer orange to cat. Realize cat doesn't want oranges. Throw them away. Then read directions in book about how to do ceremony properly. Choose to bypass using Chinese words and instead chant "2007 is going to be a GREAT year!" while flicking orange water all over your home. Even on your cats. Ignore them when they do not appreciate this. Drink more Guinness. Place bowl of oranges on stove and enjoy the continued scent as the evening progresses.
Step 4: Remember that your coworker told you that she and her husband and their friends draw Native American medicine animals out of a deck each New Year's day and that is their animal for the year. Find this very interesting and fun-sounding. While at the bookstore getting the Feng Shui book, pick up deck of Native American medicine cards. Tell family about all your wild plans. Realize they all think you are now going to marry Satan because you have decided to have all kinds of unLutheran ceremonies in your home alone while you're getting drunk.
Step 5: Read book and choose your cards. Get excited to figure out when they mean when--WAIT!!
Step 6: Realize Dick Clark is close to beginning the countdown.
Step 7: Rush to kitchen to get small bottle of champagne.
Step 8: After struggling with a towel for a moment, realize bottle is actually a screw-top. Feel slightly disappointed.
Step 9: Drink champagne at midnight and eat Krispy Kreme donut.
Step 10: Give your date New Year's kiss.
Step 11: Realize you are now too drunk to read your book about the medicine cards. Realize you will have to wait until the next day when your hangover wears off to discover their significance. Give up on all ceremonies and let cat play with his favorite toy--the cat dancer.
Step 12: Realize you feel fantastic and happy about the coming year. Feel elated that you did NOT go out in Chicago where you would have ended up spending $100 just to get in the door of some crowded, sweaty bar only to end up with 2 drink tickets and a desperate frat boy pawing your ass all night.
So there you have it--all the steps you need to have a great New Year's Eve when you're single. Whoo hoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope you all had a wonderful New Year--I sure did.