Sunday, August 31, 2008
When I was a little girl, there was a small brick house next to this tree. The tree is located in between my house and Auntie's, along the gravel road that was pictured in my last post. It sits out there all alone, without the little house to keep it company. No one ever lived in the house while I was alive. It had sat there long-abandoned, so for years, I drove by and imagined who could have lived in it and what kind of ghosts were currently residing there. And then one day, it was just gone. But the tree remains, as one of the landmarks to Auntie's along a string of rolly-polly Iowa hills.
I am thinking about this house because my younger male cousin doesn't remember it. I mentioned it to him a few weeks ago, and he had no recollection. I reminded him: small, square, brick? Nothing. I am used to being the youngest in my own brain because I am the youngest female in our pack of cousins. Realizing my younger cousin didn't remember the house reminded me that I am older than he is, even if just by a few years. And then it reminded me that I don't know younger cousin that well, and I never have. Even though we lived so close. Even though we went to the same college. Even though his older sister Kira falls into my top five best friends. I realized that was a shame, and I vowed right then to get to know him better. All because of a little house that no longer exists on a hill in the middle of nowhere.
So on Friday, I texted both of my males cousins. Let's call the older one Eagle and the younger one Hawk. I asked them if they wanted to go to the watering hole for a beer. I've never been out with these two cousins, even though I spent all of my high school and college years hanging out with their sisters. I wasn't sure how they would respond. To my surprise and utter delight, they both showed up and were happy to be there. Wow, that was easy. So we sat and had drinks and laughed and told stories. We remembered funny things and shared some sad things, and I felt proud to be sitting with these two men, even though I'll always think of them as boys no matter how old they get.
Eagle was sharing a funny story about Grandpa. He said something that I never would have imagined him saying, and we all had a good laugh about it. I once again felt that little ball of sadness at the back of my throat that I feel whenever anyone speaks about my grandfather. And I also felt a twinge of jealously that Eagle lived so close and worked daily with Grandpa while I was far away. Because they were men and coworkers, they knew each other infinitely better than I ever could have. But I'm so grateful that they did know each other in this way because now I can reap the benefits of Eagle's relationship with him. He can pass on the stories to me, and I can bond with Grandpa that way even though he's gone.
Eagle left to go watch the local high school football game (which like the whole town goes to), and even though Hawk was going to go watch his own local football game, he decided to stay with me and talk some more. I was happy to have this private bonding time with him. We had cocktails, played music, and shared stories from our lives. We were there long enough that Eagle was able to come back after the game to see us once more before going home. And then they both left, and the night was done.
This is what I came home for. This is exactly why I'm here.
I'm reminding myself of this on this lovely end-of-summer morning as the sun rises through my home office windows. Yes, finding my niche here has been difficult. Yes, I'm having trouble finding the kind of work I do in this part of the country. Yes, it's been a rocky road. In fact, I realized this weekend that I've been trying to figure out my job situation for over a year. That's a long time to work on one area of your life. And I've also been thinking and dreaming about buying a house, which hurts my heart a bit.
But if I can't have all of these things, at least I still have my family. Yes, my girl cousins are scattered around the country, but I still have the boys. And for the first time in my life, I have the opportunity to get to know them individually, without the rest of the relatives around to distract me. I can focus on them and their needs and what I can do to be a bigger part of their lives. It's true that my parents are aging. It's true that they won't always be here for me. But if I can work on building more than just blood relationships with the rest of my relatives, I will have their love and support to sustain me as the circle of life continues. And when the time comes, they will help me keep the memories of my parents alive, just as they do with my grandparents.
Whenever I doubt that I made the right decision by moving here--whenever I start thinking about how EASY it would be to get editorial work on-site in Chicago or another big city--I will remember Friday night, sitting with Eagle and Hawk, when the door first opened to truly getting to know them. And I'll remember that when I called, they both arrived with open arms. Even though there were football games to attend.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Hmm. Some of the comments from yesterday's post got me thinking. As did a phone call from Dorothy encouraging me to at least check out my options.
I was raised by my parents.
My parents are very solid and serious about financial planning. They instilled in me some core beliefs:
1. Never buy a car you can't pay for out-right.
2. Pay off your credit cards in FULL each month.
3. Do not, under any circumstances, buy a house without a garage. (snickers) I mean, do not buy a house when you don't have a solid income.
There are some differences between my parents and I. We are from two different generations, and we think differently about money. After I sold my beloved Celica when I moved to Chicago, I wasn't sure how I would ever get a car again. When I went to buy the Corolla, I knew I would have to take out a DUN DUN DUUUUUUNNNNN loan. I could not, in fact, buy the car with cash. This actually caused a minor panic attack. Because I was raised by my parents, who have never had a car loan. Ever. The difference between us opened like a giant moat filled with upside down loans, principal payments, and interest sucking little men behind desks laughing hysterically at me. Echoing the laughter.
Are my parents rich? No. They are just really Smart About Money. They do not go beyond their means. Which means they fall into, oh, like the bottom .0000009% of Americans who don't live on credit. And they don't gamble, drink, smoke, or bungee jump. I know. WTF? How did Dorothy and I come out of these people?
Anyway, their plan to make me a financial wizard backfired after I graduated from college and realized that life doesn't always throw you a windfall 'o' cash. Just ask Dorothy about The Spreadsheet. Do it. She'll laugh. My father made her a spreadsheet after she graduated from college that will go down in history as one of her most terrifying life moments. Especially since money is her button. When she realized what she would have to make to survive, and how much she was actually going to make, her head almost popped off. I refused to let Pa make me the same spreadsheet. I knew I couldn't handle it.
So my brain is working like this right now.
1. I want a house.
2. I have no savings.
3. I have no full-time job.
4. I have excellent credit. I got a propane contract yesterday even though I have no job. I always pay my car payments and credit cards on time. Nothing gets shut off. I don't know my exact score, but it can't be bad.
5. I can't ask my parents to co-sign because their heads would pop off. And then they would have that on me. And that isn't something I want to have on me. Money + Family = Chaos Forever.
6. I probably could have gotten a loan no problem BEFORE the sub-prime disaster.
7. I don't know ANYTHING about buying a house and therefore would need someone to help me. My parents? Didn't buy a house. Built one themselves. Over 30 years ago. Dorothy knows everything about buying houses, but she's a little, ahem, busy at the moment.
8. My spouse is no help because I don't have one.
9. What if I really did buy a house and couldn't get a job and ended up bankrupt and living in King's cat carrier?
But perhaps I could do a rent-to-own deal with the owner. Or maybe a job will come through as the publishing industry wakes up after a long summer of sleeping. Or maybe I'll just stay here in Farmhouse Villa for years to come, dreaming. I'm not sure. But you all have got me thinking that maybe I should go and investigate my options without making it so black and white. Maybe there is a middle ground where a Blondie can own a house. Because somewhere out there, a Blondie owns a pizza parlor.
Friday, August 29, 2008
I need to start this post with a quick disclaimer: I know my parents and sister are going to read it and find me ungrateful and perhaps a whiner. That is not my intention. I love my parents and they have been more than generous with me. I appreciate everything they have done, and I love them very much. The end.
Yesterday, I had to go sign up for a winter propane contract. This was not fun. But it does ensure that I'll pay $2.15 a gallon instead of $3.25 a gallon, like I did last year. In my 500 gallon tank. That runs out once a month. You. Do. The. Math. It's more than my rent, per month. But last year I had a bum furnace and now I have a new one. Last year I didn't know what I was doing and now I do. So, hopefully, this winter will work out differently. Why don't I just move, you ask? Well, I like my house. And finding a good farmhouse in or near Farmsville is no easy task. People move into their houses and live there forever. Rentals in Farmsville are apartments. That don't take cats. And that have lots of neighbors. And no yard. And, get this, they cost MORE than my whole farmhouse. So that is why I don't move. I have a good thing, and I know it.
I don't own it.
One of the reasons I moved home was to buy my own property. It's a mission. I'm a little obsessed with it. Each time I mow, I realize I could be mowing my own yard. Each time I fix something small or patch a wall hole, I realize I could be doing this to my own house. Each time I pay a single month's rent, I realize I'm throwing money into someone else's hands. I'm pretty sure this house is paid off in full, if you know what I mean. I've been renting different forms of property since I was 17 years old. That is 14 years of throwing money at other people. OK, so my parents paid my rent in college, but still. That's a good 10 years of money. Lots of it. I could have paid off a whole house by now.
So I get more than a little annoyed when I see The Perfect House and know I can't have it.
Yesterday, I went to buy the propane and then stopped to see Auntie at her shop. I bought a beautiful new birdbath for the birdies (see above). So far, all summer they have been drinking out of the bottom of a flower pot. Yesterday, I watched four of them try to take a bath all at the same time. It was hilarious. But they didn't all fit in there, and there was a lot of fighting. So I decided it was time to give them a good bath. It came with its own cast iron holder and everything. I love it.
While at auntie's shop, where she sells water ponds and such, I thought about landscaping and installing ponds and beautiful things. Again, no property for such fun. Then I went outside to talk to Cousin, who is having a hard time offloading his house. So we started talking about property, and he told me about a gorgeous house up the street that was cheap.
Ma came with me to get the propane and visit Auntie, so we drove up there and peered in the windows.
And I almost died.
Gorgeous hardwoods, built-ins, overall Blondieness. I was waiting to see a giant hole in the floor, but it didn't happen. And it has a 2 car garage. Every time I mention property, Pa says, "You want to buy a house that has a garage." Blah blah blah garage garage garage, is all I hear. I've never had a garage. Ever. I got a "school permit" when I was 14 and parked my Nova right outside of Nerdtopia. From there, no garage. Ever. Dug car out from under 10 foot snow drifts all through college. Scraped tree particles off of car in Portland. Left car frozen into the parking space and took the train in Chicago. Garages don't mean that much to me. But when I saw one, I got a little excited. Pa would like that, I thought.
But I can't have it. I can't have it because I'm SINGLE and don't make enough MONEY. For my area, I actually make a sh*t ton of money. But since I quit my job and don't have a full-time one again yet, I would never get a loan. Here is the part where you'll think I'm ungrateful: Almost all of my friends who have bought property got help from their parents. Even when they were married. Dorothy bought her first house with wedding money from my parents. What did I do with my "wedding money"? I bought propane because all of my savings went to trying to stay afloat in the city of Chicago paying almost $1000 a month just on rent after I got dumped. And paying for therapy in the aftermath. And all the bills and nonsense that comes with being a Single Adult in Life.
POOR ME. There, I said it. If I can't say it on my own blog, where can I say it? (smiles)
I've said before that I don't really get jealous anymore, and I still feel that is true. The emotion I'm experiencing right now isn't jealousy. That involves anger and silliness. What I feel right now is a profound sadness that I can't achieve one of life's most important benchmarks. Owning property. And for the love of God, if you're gonna buy property, you should do it right now while the economy sucks, no?
I put off getting a "summer fill" of my propane tank (which is cheap for propane) and getting a winter contract all summer long because I was convinced I was going to lock-in a full-time job and Buy My House. The last day to sign up for these things? August 31. Tick tock. I made it just in time.
Because I had to admit that it's not going to happen.
I am not going to buy a house.
It's not going to work out.
I am going to be in Farmhouse Villa all winter long, as long as they don't sell it from under me. Yes, I love this house. Yes, I want to live here. But it's not really mine. And that makes me sad. I get to be sad. It's OK. I'll stop ignoring the sadness and just wallow in it for a few hours and acknowledge that it makes me feel kinda like a failure and then go through all the things that Shrinkydink taught me about not beating myself up.
But right before I work on my mental health, I'm going to call up the agent and go take a tour. Just to keep the dream alive. Just for a little bit longer.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
They say you don't know what you've got till it's gone. So true. Because last night Webster temporarily escaped and I FREAKED OUT. I was hysterical. Panicking. Like a little baby. I was coming home from a long day. All day working at a library in Omaha, then to Nerdtopia for dinner, then a quick stop at the watering hole to say hello to friends. On the way home, I stopped to get some Diet Dew. So when I got home, I was trying to get in the door holding 8,000 photocopies that had been nicely sorted by Yours Truly, a fridge-case-12-pack thingie of Diet Dew, my purse, my keys, and some mail. It was a lot to try to take in all at once. And someone (cough) decided to take this opportunity to explore the great outdoors.
King has done this exactly once. In the winter. I was taking out the garbage and I turned around to find Kingie paw-deep in the snow looking very confused. He just stood there until I picked him up. He has never tried to exit the house again. In Chicago, both kitties were Door Runners. That was even in their file when I adopted them. More than once, King found his way down the back stairs to stand and MAR at the neighbor's door until ex went to get him. I was more diligent about watching for escaping cats. Because I'm terrified at the thought that it could ever happen.
(I interrupt this blog post to ask: Why are Blue Jays so LOUD and ANGRY. They're totally fighting outside and have been all morning and it's LOUD. Turning on iTunes.)
Webster also liked to escape into the hallway or front stairwell in Chicago, but so far he's never attempted to go outside at Farmhouse Villa. In fact, if I'm outside watering the garden and I come back in the glass door, he usually runs away. He doesn't like shoes, after all. So what caused him to go for it last night? I shall never know. I don't speak cat.
My arms are full, I open the screen door and the big door, and BAM HE'S OUT! I dropped everything and went after him. For the moment, I was just slightly annoyed. But as I reached down to grab him (him no doubt remembering that every time I grab him right now it's to shove medicine down his throat and make him gag), he took off around the side of the house into the night. I ran back inside to turn on all the outdoor lights. I came back and saw him run past the bird tree into the bushes RIGHT NEXT TO THE HIGHWAY WHERE KITTEHS MEET THEIR DEMISE. My outdoor lights only light up the front of the house. I couldn't see anything. No meows in my vision.
I stood there, looking into the darkness. After a long week of fights and chaos and working and stress, the panic hit hard. I just wanted my baby back. And to go to bed. So?
I started bawling hysterically, calling Webster's name. Over and over, I called for him. I briefly heard his little squeaky meow off in the distance and then nothing. I sat down on the yard swing and cried, terrified of the neighbor's cats, the neighbor's dogs, the cars going by on the highway, coyotes, and every other animal under the sun that could wipe out an indoor cat in two seconds. I went back in to try and find a flashlight. King was at the glass door and RAN when he saw me coming. He wasn't going outside, too. Oh no. He knows better.
Can't find flashlight. Come back outside. Freak out more. Launch into full-blown panic attack like I haven't had in years. And then, like any good 31-year-old grown woman, I called my mother. It was past her bedtime. By quite a bit. So I wake her up bawling hysterically to tell her that my precious Webbie has run away and I can't find him. And like any good mother bear who still loves her cubs no matter how old they are, my mother offers to come over and help me find him. I sniffle, "OK." Somewhere inside, I feel a little better.
So I go to take the phone back inside. I get to the glass door and BAM, Webster comes flying in before I even get it five inches open. He ducked under it limbo-style and ran into the house crouched on the ground in fear. Did I yell? Oh, yes I did. WEBSTER!! Thankfully, I was able to get in contact with Ma before she drove all the way over here to hunt for him. I caught her at the end of her driveway. Phew.
Isn't she wonderful? She really is.
So then I wiped away the tears, got ready for bed, and allowed Webster to come cuddle with me. Who knows what he saw out there, but he clearly didn't like it. And I will make 100% sure he never gets to explore it again. Yes, he has a microchip embedded somewhere in his fur, but those don't help in the country. I know what happens to strays in the country. People have a lot of guns around here. Just sayin'.
But now I have a new problem. In the rushing in and out of the house chaos of the moment, I somehow lost my keys. This morning, I went out to the car to get some other crap out of there and realized my keys are...missing. They are not on the hook, in my purse, on the floor, in the door, in the car. They have completely disappeared. I can't really worry about it right now because I have a lot of work to do, but I have to wonder, did the keys run away, too? Were they eaten by wild coyotes as they pranced across the highway last night? They've got to be here somewhere...right?
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Nature does not often let you get this close. Especially Nature That Doesn't Exist.
Here's a nice little story for you.
We all know about the recent Bigfoot hoax, no? The one where the guy loaded up a Bigfoot suit with entrails and possum parts and went on CNN? A couple of days after that story broke, my father was innocently driving along the road near our house when he saw a car parked by the bridge. Being an observant man, and helpful if there was trouble, he peeked as he passed and saw no one was in there. But a little way down the road? Someone, or something, was there. Bigfoot. Bigfoot in Iowa.
As my father got further down the road, he saw the "Bigfoot" watching him. After Bigfoot had made SURE my father saw him, he jumped into the cornfield. Pa was also observant enough to notice the corn on the edge of that particular field had been mashed down a few times. Pa was apparently not Bigfoot's first human sighting. My father laughed as he told me this story, and we all had a good chuckle at what Ma would have done if she would have been outside in the yard and watched Bigfoot wander by. Deer? Sure. Harry ape man? Not so much.
Pa found it humorous that Bigfoot parked his car on the side of the road and didn't think to hide it. I do, too. So here are some headlines that could go with this sighting:
Bigfoot Jailed for Property Damage
Bigfoot Captured When Ran Out of Gas, Complains of High Gas Prices
Bigfoot Caught Taking Leak in Field
Bigfoot Busted Mixing Batch of High Fructose Corn Syrup
Bigfoot Eaten by Equally Elusive Iowa Mountain Lion
Bigfoot Trips in Field, Killed by Neighbor's Cow
Bigfoot Steals Combine, Harvests Immature Corn
Got any other good ones?
Sunday, August 24, 2008
There seems to be a whirlwind of secrets going on right now. I realize secrets are a part of life. Everyone in entitled to their own secrets. I don't feel that anyone owes me their secrets. Hell, do what you want. I really don't care. Really. But when other people's secrets start affecting my daily life, it gets a little awkward. Which is why having Lynx in my Native American Medicine Cards didn't really shock me last New Year's Eve. I just wondered when Lynx would rear her ugly head.
Right about now.
From the book:
"It is said that if you want to find out a secret, ask Lynx medicine. Unfortunately, it is difficult to get the silent Lynx to speak. To be confronted by the powerful medicine of Lynx signifies that you do not know something about yourself or others."
Ah yes, not knowing something about others? Got it.
Let me stop here to say that I recently had a fight with a good friend of mine. Some secrets were involved. It got ugly. I will be the first person to confess that I am a Verbal Abuser. Dorothy can verify this. I don't use fists as weapons; I use words. And while I rarely blow my top, if I start simmering about something long enough, the slow boil will work its way up to the mouth and I will Go Off. Meanly.
Another friend of mine witnessed my recent argument. She was amazed at the way I was able to go into the heart of this person and attack weaknesses that were lying dormant in the person's mind and heart. Want me to fight? OK, I'll find the thing I know will hurt you the MOST and I will bring it up and shove it in your face. Loudly.
I'm not proud of this. I actually feel really horrible about the fight, and it's been weighing on my heart. But I bring it up because it goes along with what I'm reading about Lynx:
"Lynx medicine is a very special type of clairvoyance. If this medicine is strong in you, you will get mental pictures concerning other people and the exact things they have hidden, either from themselves or from others. You will see their fears, their lies, and their self-deceptions. You will also know where they have the treasure, if there is any. You will never speak of these revelations--you simply know."
Yes, yes I do know.
I would never go so far as to say that I'm clairvoyant, but I can read people really well. It comes with being a writer. You observe people in a different way, watch for cues or the flicks of eyes. You learn how to read what people are saying non-verbally. It's fun and interesting, but it can also be quite troubling.
"If you have pulled the Lynx card, you can be sure that 'secrets' are afloat. If this is your personal medicine, you should listen to your higher self. Be still and pay attention to the revelations you receive either in the form of mental pictures or through a high singing voice in your inner ear. Perhaps you will receive information in the form of omens. You can be sure that Mother Earth is signaling to you in some manner....
Some people believe that the Sphinx of ancient Egypt was not a Lion but a Lynx. This Lynx does not say much. With an enigmatic smile, the great cat watches over the sands of time forever."
So what do I do about all these secrets? Nothing. As I said before, everyone is allowed their own life. I have secrets, too, after all. But another way to handle secrets is to disengage. Back away. Go back to observation. Watch the tides turn but don't dip in your toe. This is easier than it sounds, especially when friendships are involved. But part of being a good friend is knowing when to Shut Your Mouth.
I will do this. Mouth shutting. I will go back to being the Silent Lynx while the sand kicks up around me.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Check out my mother's marigolds!! They are totally going to town. Whoo hoo! I mixed in some additional seeds, and they must be a different variety because they are a lot taller. So I have some awkward teenagers stretching their necks above the pack there. I also have some cosmos growing. Cousin's Wife has amazing cosmos. When I was at her house last time, I went and stood next to them and they were taller than me. So her cosmos are like 7 feet tall. For reals. Mine? They are about 3 feet tall. And they have purty flowers. There is a little Mr. Spider hanging out on this blossom. The butterflies love them:
What are these again? I can't remember. Ma gave me the seeds. I looove them. There are two varieties growing in my patch. I like these ones the best. The others just have boring flowers:
Groan. The hostas. Taking their freakin' time. At least the buds are showing signs of life. Seriously. How long can it take to bloom? Hurry up so I can see what all the Hosta Fuss is all about:
There are sweet peas growing. They really want something to climb, so they've started climbing the cosmos. There are pretty purple flowers that grow on them. I've spent all summer wondering why this vining flower is called sweet pea. Now I know. Um, it grows peas:
Last but not least, we come to the mystery plants. This end of the flower bed is wild. There is a mini hosta in there, some flowers Ma gave me, and random weedy ground cover. But all summer, two giant stalks have been growing diligently. I thought they were weeds. Ma has been trying to identify them. She told me not to pull them because she wanted to see if they would bloom. So I water them and feel an overall curiosity about them whenever I'm outside. But I was still totally convinced they were just really tall weeds. Then yesterday I got up close and noticed something. Ooooooooh. OK. They are sunflowers. They have to be! I don't know anything else that would grow that tall:
So I went back inside and did a little research. Yep. Sunflowers. So hopefully, this bud will open up soon so the mystery can be solved for sure:
And that is your gardening update for now. Pretties.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Well well well. The passion flower vine strikes again. I got two blooms the first time and they both promptly died. After a summer of growing like CRAZY, this little beauty is back with a vengeance. I have roughly 10 blooms on their way. As you can see, one of them blasted a bit there, but the rest are opening and getting ready to open in a more healthy manner.
Oh passion, you fiery mistress.
Lately, there have been many discussions about passion. People are falling in and out of love. I'm watching. Observing. Participating? No.
Passion can be a fickle bitch. It gets you in trouble, makes you do things you don't want to do or really do want to do, or causes trouble, or gets you stuck in your own brain all day long staring at a tree and eating chocolate.
But it can also be really fun. I kinda miss it. The problem? It's hard to find candidates to be passionate about. Sure, you can easily develop crushes on people. There are cuties lurking around every gas station pump. But being passionate about someone is a whole different thing. You've got to like more about them than just looks. You've got to swoon over that whole package--what they do for a living, how they act day to day, etc. Finding that kind of passion is a little more difficult and requires more time and effort. Ugh. So much work.
I have a feeling my period of being single needs to come to an end. I'm getting slightly bored with it. Let me make it clear, I don't want to date out of sheer loneliness or because I SHOULD or anything like that. I just feel a distinct lack of connectedness with the world right now because I am single. I want to participate. I want to share giggles with someone.
I have no desire to do online dating. I've tried it before, and it didn't work out. So I have to meet someone in person, yes? OK. I can try that. I can stop walking through stores like a zombie headed straight for my list items. I can stop being everyone's buddy. I can strike up interesting conversations with strangers. I can put myself out there. Yes, I can.
I have been passionate about many men in my life. Each one for a different reason. Looks, personality, humor, depth, family relationships, etc. What will draw me in this time? I look for a different range of characteristics now than I used to. My adult mature (cough) brain and spirit are seeking things that my 20-year-old brain and spirit would have scoffed at. And even the last few years of my life have created large changes. I no longer look at dating as a road to Getting Married. I look at it as part of a life journey that needs no definite beginning or end. Love can't be boxed in that way. Neither can passion.
I still clearly remember the most passionate kiss of my life. I remember where I was, what I was wearing, what the weather was like that night. I remember the intense build-up to it that had lasted for almost a year. I was sitting on the retaining wall in front of my apartment in Iowa City and everything froze. If I close my eyes, I can go there again. It's an odd sensation to have my heart pump quickly over a kiss that happened over a decade ago. How is it that my brain and pulmonary system can recreate the moment so easily? Being single, months of my life go by without any hint of passion. But then a memory like this flies back and I'm there all over again.
I need to find someone to be passionate about in the present. I need to stand on the front steps of Farmhouse Villa and get a kiss that sends me inside to crank sappy love tunes and dance around with Kingie like a teenager. I need a first date that makes my tummy hurt because I'm so excited and nervous. I need a voice over the phone that almost requires a Xanax.
Watch out, Mr. Passion. I'm coming for you.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Oh, Elton, hold me.
The other day, I went to Best Buy to get Pa's birthday present when I saw this box set of Elton John. I swooned in the aisle. Four DVDs; 7 hours; $24.99. Elton. John. Live. LOVE HIM.
I'm not sure when my fascination with Elton started, but he's followed me through many important periods in my life. And even though my sister has Surrender, Dorothy as her blog name, it is actually me who has had a long-running obsession with the Wizard of Oz. I've dressed up as Dorothy for Halloween like 3 times. I own 3 versions of the movie. I. Love. It. When I left Portland, my two friends made me a road CD to listen to with a psychedelic image of Dorothy on it (the one from my movie, not my sis). They called Chicago the Emerald City. Oh, if only we knew then what we know now. And I felt it entirely appropriate that when I moved to Chicago, I was two blocks from Oz Park. I went there almost every day to sit and stare at the Cowardly Lion, wondering if I was him or the Tin Man or Dorothy herself. I knew I wasn't the Scarecrow. I'm too smart to be him. (Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!)
Anyway, imagine my jaw hitting the floor as Billy Joel and Elton John sang Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. They were amazing. Here it is:
And Ma, here are the lyrics:
When are you gonna come down
When are you going to land
I should have stayed on the farm
I should have listened to my old man
You know you can't hold me forever
I didn't sign up with you
I'm not a present for your friends to open
This boy's too young to be singing the blues
So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can't plant me in your penthouse
I'm going back to my plough
Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh I've finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road
What do you think you'll do then
I bet that'll shoot down your plane
It'll take you a couple of vodka and tonics
To set you on your feet again
Maybe you'll get a replacement
There's plenty like me to be found
Mongrels who ain't got a penny
Sniffing for tidbits like you on the ground
And can we really talk about Elton without talking about Marilyn Monroe for a second? My cousin Kira has always been obsessed with Marilyn, so I also hold a soft spot for her. And Candle in the Wind? I might go as far as to say that I think it's the best song ever written. So sad that Marilyn never got to hear it. I think she would have been quite honored. I was never a fan of the version for Diana's funeral. I'm all Marilyn when it comes to this song. Beautiful. I can't find the version from the DVD online, but here's the song at least:
Goodbye Norma Jean
Though I never knew you at all
You had the grace to hold yourself
While those around you crawled
They crawled out of the woodwork
And they whispered into your brain
They set you on the treadmill
And they made you change your name
And it seems to me you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain set in
And I would have liked to have known you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did
Loneliness was tough
The toughest role you ever played
Hollywood created a superstar
And pain was the price you paid
Even when you died
Oh the press still hounded you
All the papers had to say
Was that Marilyn was found in the nude
Goodbye Norma Jean
From the young man in the 22nd row
Who sees you as something as more than sexual
More than just our Marilyn Monroe
I love getting concerts on DVD because they have so much energy. I just pop them in and I can clean for hours with them in the background. Or I can sit there, hypnotized, staring at the singers for a whole evening. I can watch them again and again, seeking new messages and comforts. I'm so happy to add Elton to my catalog. He ROCKS.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Webster will not sit on my lap unless I have my fur on. Yes, you read that correctly. Except in my case, fur is either jeans, comfy pants, or a blanket.
Since summer has rolled around, this is becoming more of a problem. I like to sleep in shorts and wear shorts around the house during the day. Do I wear shorts in public? Hell no. But I have a nice collection of really comfy shorts for home time. And Webbie hates them.
While I'm working in the home office, he likes to come sit on my lap. Heaven FORBID I do not have my fur on. If he jumps up onto my lap and feels SKIN he FREAKS. Then he's up on the desk and all over the laptop and knocking over a full can of Diet Mountain Dew. Usually, I know he's coming. I can warn him, "No, Webster, I don't have any fur on." I point to the shorts: "No fur!" He jumps anyway, but at least I'm prepared, and I can grab him.
Same with the couch. If I'm lying down to watch TV or read and I have no fur on, he will jump up onto my lap and then bounce off onto the couch as if my bare legs are covered with a toxic poison. Sometimes I humor him by putting a blanket on my lap or going to put on jeans. Other times, I leave him to suffer.
Today I was working away when BAM he was up on my furless lap before I could stop him. He was easily able to knock over a can of Dt. Dew, shove the cordless phone onto the floor, AND somehow get on the laptop and DELETE the file I was working on. Thankfully, there wasn't anything in there that couldn't be replaced easily, but for the love of gawd, WEBSTER!
Maybe I will give him a little extra in his daily dose of Peeing Funny medicine today. But I did learn my lesson, and I'm now wearing my fur in the form of clean blue jeans from Old Navy. Didn't know Old Navy sold fur, did you?
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Lately, I've been treated to some interesting wildlife. At the moment, I'm watching a female Cardinal take a bath in the make-shift bird bath I created out of the bottom of a flower pot. There are probably 40 birds outside having their morning meal. I attract a LOT of birdies. I have the perfect tree for them, and I'm very dedicated to filling the feeders all the time. When I filled the feeder yesterday, a giant butterfly actually landed ON me. On my jeans. And just sat there. I'm also watching a bunny hop around in the morning grass looking for food. And yesterday, I walked into the largest spider web I've ever seen and ended up with a giant spider on my arm. But nothing seems to beat the frogs.
The photo above is a camera phone shot of the large frog I found on my glass door when I came home the other evening. Its fat, little body was hilarious. I opened the door very slowly so as not to disturb it. Then I gave King and Webster turns being held up to look at it. They were totally uninterested because it didn't move. Then I took the photo and went about my business. Cute frog. The end. Um, no.
I went out to get the mail yesterday and a baby frog fell off the top of the house? top of the door? wherever it fell from, it landed on my NECK. Then it hurdled itself off to the ground and hopped away. OK. Interesting.
Last night, I came home from spending time with Pa to celebrate his birthday (Happy Birthday, Pa!!!) and this little guy was waiting for me on the rail:
And this little guy was waiting for me on the handle of the glass door. I took a camera phone shot, but it's all blurry. Then I carefully got up there with my hands to help him off when he hurdled himself away, bounced off the garbage can, and landed on the ground. I went in to get the camera, and when I came out, he had gathered his composure on the side of the steps:
So tiny! What, exactly, is attracting the frogs? It's not like I have a water pond anywhere around here. And I have security lights that only turn on when someone walks up to the door. So when I'm gone, what exactly are the frogs coming for? Jury is out. But I'm sure they are enjoying the delicious summer bugs because there are a lot of them right now. I'm finding locust shells everywhere. Moths are nesting around the door lights. Butterflies are gobbling up nectar in the flower beds. And mosquitoes are leaving giant welts all over my body. Good times.
Dear froggies, I hope you enjoy your time at Farmhouse Villa. You are certainly welcome here. Just like the bunnies and the mules and the goats and the sheep and the stray farm cats and the kittens and snakes and the butterflies and and and and. But get rid of the moles cause they are driving me nuts, ok?
Monday, August 18, 2008
Yesterday, I had a nice conversation with Dorothy. We talked about some things I've been holding in lately. I used to feel more comfortable dumping it ALL out here in the blogosphere, but since I've been home, I've found that more and more people are reading my blog. There are a lot of locals who buzz through here who know me and my family quite well. So this leads to cutting down quite a bit on divulging certain thoughts because I'm not as anonymous as I used to be. In a small town, everyone knows your business all the time, but do I want them to know everything? Not so much.
This is not to say that I don't tell the truth on my blog or that I don't share very intimate details of my life on here. But it has led to a certain amount of restraint that keeps me from being able to adequately take my emotional temperature each day through my blog like I used to. The edges of stories get shaved off or the story itself is ignored all together. And then it starts to fester inside and grow some mold.
So yeah, I've had some troubling things on my mind lately. And I haven't talked to Shrinky in a looong time. I might need to give her a call. But this is not to say that I'm taking a trip back to Crazytown. I'm just experiencing life's inevitable ups and downs. And this time has some rather interesting downs.
Back when I had my own cubicle, one thing that always made me feel better was cleaning it. Even if my problem wasn't work-related, a good cube cleaning helped to clear my mind and make me feel powerful and secure somehow. I would go get two or three recycling bins and go to town on the thousands of sheets of paper that were stacked and filed and overflowing from my drawers. When the last paper clip was in place and the desk and computer had been wiped down with orange 409, I felt like a million dollars.
Hoping to recapture this magical feeling, on Saturday, I went and gathered the wheelbarrow and placed it right in front of the front steps. Then I went in and out, in and out, carrying thousands of sheets of paper from the latest project I worked on for the company. Since the desk I have at home is 3x smaller than the one I had at work, and I have no filing cabinets, the 11x17 sheets that rolled in via Fed Ex and the 8.5x11s that I printed over and over and over had splayed out onto the floor like a giant slippery mess. The kitties love to sleep on the paper, but I just end up slipping on it when I walk through my home office. More than one person has come over and said, "Oh. My. God. That's alotta paper." Yes, yes it is. I kill trees. For the good of the children.
Two wheelbarrows later, I had cleaned all the paper off of the floor of my office. Then I went down the to the burning barrel and lit that shit up. I do believe in company confidentiality, after all. And nothing is more fun than burning thousands of sheets of paper on a windless summer day. The goats came over to say hello and see what I was up to. I pulled some grass for them and watched as they munched away. I took some old tree branches from nearby, ripped them apart, and watched as they sent a giant plume of white smoke into the air. It's true that paper doesn't burn as well as it should when it's in giant stacks, is glossy, and has color ink on it. So I stirred it like it was my own magic cauldron, watching the white smoke build more steam. I've learned a little about burning. When the white smoke gets going like that, the barrel will eventually suck in a bunch of air and burst into flames all at once. Stand back. Get out of the way. Watch. FIRE!
Back inside, it was so nice to have all that heavy, slippery paper out of the home office. But it's still a mess in here. There are books all over the place, binders popping out their messy paper, and the last remaining boxes of Things From Chicago that are just stacked in the corner making a lovely eye sore. So perhaps this week, I will finish cleaning the home office. It has become too much of a symbol of life at this particular time--a little disorganized, a little "off" somehow. A mismatch of oddness. But within this chaos are so many things that are important to me: photos of family, amazing works of literature, and small trinkets I've collected over the years that remind me of so many other hurdles in life. This too shall pass. And then I'll have a clean office again.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Yesterday, I got a crazy urge to go to a baseball game. The weather was great, the sky was clear, and I had just gotten off of a conference call. Wanted to Be Outside. I went to exactly 3 Cubs games in Chicago and 1 White Sox game. The White Sox game? I went to it in a limo because ex's boss was really rich and invited his employees to the game in style. We sat in a special suite box that was catered and gave me an up-close and personal view of Pudge Rodriquez's butt since he was catching for the opposing team. Love Pudge. Anyway, games in Chicago were difficult to get to and from. People EVERYWHERE. Drunk people. People selling things and asking for money. Cars honking. Overall overwhelmingness. Omaha baseball? Not so much.
I called up the Nerds, since I've been trying to get Pa to go to a baseball game with me all summer as a form of bonding. Ma didn't really want to go, until I mentioned there would be fireworks at the end. Score. So I got online at roughly 4pm and got us seats on the field for a 7:05pm start. So easy.
Let me stop here to say there has been MASSIVE controversy in Omaha lately regarding the home of the Royals, Rosenblatt Stadium. I don't even want to go into it because it makes my brain hurt. I'll just say they're going to tear it down and build a new stadium in the parking lot of the Qwest Center (which no one can get to already and clogs traffic incredibly each weekend) much to the dismay of everyone in Omaha except the people who will make money from it. And they're doing it because the College World Series comes here once a year. Yeah, great idea, Omaha. Precious.
But Rosenblatt now is quite nice. We had great seats, the weather was cool, and we had a perfect view of the Dessert Dome at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo, which I prefer to call the Dessert Nipple:
You can see the Dessert Nipple perfectly from the highway. And it is the LEAST interesting thing about the zoo. The zoo itself is INCREDIBLE and I love it. The Nipple? No.
For unknown reasons, we are assuming they didn't have photos of the opposing teams once in a while, every so often, we were treated to a Simpson character. There was Lisa and Homer:
And because the Royals got 10 hits, the entire crowd, all 9,500+ of us, were treated to a free bowling game. I snagged my parents' free bowling tickets because I just can't picture us bonding in that particular way. Ma might forget to let go of her bowling ball and go all the way down the lane. Just sayin'. But she was super cute at the game last night. I told them both to wear ball caps, so she showed up wearing a hat from her last vacation, Pa had one something...farmie? Not sure. And I was wearing my Cubs hat. Go Cubbies! We cheered, we clapped, we laughed. We sang at the 7th inning stretch. I ate a hot dog and a pretzel AND cotton candy. I wanted to truly enjoy the baseball experience.
The Royals clobbered the Isotopes (um, dude, Isotopes????) 8-2, and then we were treated to the most amazing fireworks I've ever seen. Seriously. They were incredible. I can usually hear the Friday fireworks going off in Omaha from my house, but I have never seen them. It was wonderful. And then they dropped me off at Farmhouse Villa and I found this:
King would like you to know that he read Sleep Is for the Weak cover to cover and he loves it.
A fabulous summer night. Thanks for the good times, Nerds.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Webster has a bladder infection. With crystals. That make it feel like you're peeing sand. No wonder! My poor little boo boo. He's now home and very happy after spending the NIGHT at the vet because she couldn't get any pee out of him while we were there. It broke my heart to leave him. King totally didn't care, of course.
So that's Webbie.
I don't know about you, but I'm enjoying the Olympics quite a bit. But yet something is missing. Some magic? Some 1996 girls, if you know what I mean? So I dug around on youtube and found this nice montage. Enjoy. I did. I got goosebumps all over again.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Something is wrong with Webster. He's been urinating in Funny Places. In the last two weeks, he has peed on a plastic bag that was holding clean clothes I had brought back from Ma's, a plastic bag containing two stuffed sheep that I had bought for my friend's new puppy (needless to say, that one went in the trash so the puppy wouldn't go ballistic), and a pair of fake Crocs that I use for gardening. This is NOT normal. Webster always goes in the box.
The last time I had a cat that peed in Funny Places, I lived in Portland. It was my roommate's cat, but he never showed it affection, so it was always around me. I got the flu and kicked it out of my bedroom for a few days, so it took to peeing where I would rest on the couch. When I moved spots, I would wake up and find that it had peed on my new spot. I let it back in my room. Then it started peeing in my closet. With blood. So it obviously had a urinary tract infection. Poor meow.
I'm suspecting that Webster has a urinary tract infection or something of the sort. He's been hiding in the guest room under the bed for a few days. Yes, there have been Strange Men in the house installing my BRAND NEW FURNACE for two days (wheeeeeeeee!!!!), but still, this isn't like him. Then he crawls up on the guest bed and sleeps all day. The last time he was sick, he followed the same pattern of behavior: overly cuddly, sleeping in hiding places, overall weirdness. That time, he'd caught a bacterial infection from the boarder. But he also had some serious runny poo. No poo issues this time. Just the Funny Peeing.
Like any good cat momma, I called up my Chicago vet to have them send all of the files on King and Webster to the local Iowa vet. So the poor vet will learn all about King's third eyelid infection, his raging back dander, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and food allergies. What will she learn about Webbie? That he's damn near perfect except for some occasional illnesses every few years. And that's he is ADORABLE.
In Chicago, taking the cats to the vet was an epic adventure. Catching them, carrying them out two locked doors, down a flight of stairs, and into the street. Then driving and getting to the vet, which had no parking and was on one of the busiest streets in the neighborhood. Ugh. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. I resorted to only taking them to the vet when Ma and Pa were in town so I could get some help. Now? Hee hee. Um. I happen to know that Pa doesn't freelance today. So um. He's totally going. He just called to check on the time. In an hour, he will arrive to be my hero and come with me and the boys to the vet.
But when I really think about it, I don't think I would even need his help. The boys LOVE their new carriers. They are no longer terrified of the sound of the swinging metal doors of their old ones. The new ones are like little houses for them to play in. And the furnace dude fixed the glass door so that it will actually lock open (the locking mechanism had been installed backwards and I'd never figured out how to fix it on my own). So I could just whip out the kitties, and drive into town all by myself.
But it's just so much more fun to bring Pa. Think about it this way, Pa. At least you didn't have to install my new furnace! (snickers)
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
My sister Dorothy wrote on her blog about how depression affects families and children. It's a nice little post. Click here to read it. As my regular readers know, I've had some (cough) problems with depression over the years. Now I take proactive steps to keep it from creeping up on me. Like taking a drive through the rolly-polly hills of Iowa.
While I was out the other day, I took this photo of a soybean field. I was in the middle of nowhere, stopped in the center of a gravel road, and I just sat there looking at the field. I was disappointed that I didn't have my Flip Video with me because the wind was hitting the field just so--it looked like waves on an ocean. The fields rippled again and again. It was quiet, peaceful, sensational in every meaning of the word.
When I stopped to see Auntie, I told her about the field and how gorgeous it had been. She reminded me that American painter Grant Wood often called Iowa "voluptuous." How true. How very very true.
Dorothy and I talked yesterday about the old analogy of the airplane oxygen mask. How you have to put on your own mask before you can put on anyone else's. Again, so true. Without your own mask, you are unable to help anyone else, including your family. I work daily to put on my own mask. Even if it's just by taking a drive through the hills at sunset. These little moments alone are what matter. Just being. Existing. Listening to music or the rustles of the fields.
In thinking about Grant Wood, I decided to look up some quotes from him. I came across this one, and smiled knowingly. I think Grant and I would have been fast friends.
"I realized that all the really good ideas I'd ever had came to me while I was milking a cow. So I went back to Iowa." --Grant Wood
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
The things we put up with for our animals. Yesterday, after a day of Epic Mowing, I crawled into bed after my daily dose of crack, I mean the Olympics, and settled in to enjoy a wonderful evening of sleep that can only come after a long day of physical punishment via a push mower. But before I went to bed, I forgot to put out dry food for the boys. Starting at roughly 4:15am, King came to purr loudly and knead my head until I got up. Webster got in on the act, too, but Webbie usually pretends he wants food and then won't go near it. He's like my niece--he doesn't actually enjoy eating, but he's always hungry.
And then we turn to this morning, when King decided he needed to do the water dance again. Note how he's staring up at the freezer, knowing full well if he stays like that ALL MORNING LONG, I'll eventually give in.
Gotta love cats.
And then we turn to this morning, when King decided he needed to do the water dance again. Note how he's staring up at the freezer, knowing full well if he stays like that ALL MORNING LONG, I'll eventually give in.
Gotta love cats.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Yesterday was a perfectly lovely day. I decided to drive around the country roads, look at the beautiful fields, and take some photos. A few times, as I pulled over to the side of a gravel road and got out to take a picture, I did worry that some farmer was going to appear with a shot gun and ask me what I was doing on his property. Thankfully, no one noticed me. This particular corn above is from the field across from my auntie's house. I pulled into her driveway, walked across the road, took the picture, and then briefly wondered if my uncle was inside the house wondering what I was up to. I called him. No one answered. So I left and went into town to see Auntie at her shop. We sat together and had a nice visit.
In Iowa, we call talking "visiting."
I haven't had any one-on-one time with my auntie for YEARS. We chatted about life, work, family, and her shop. It was wonderful. And when I admired a small glass frog on the table next to us, she gave it to me as a reminder of our visit. She knows I hold extreme value on little bobbles that remind me of moments in time. So now I have my frog to remind me of my wonderful auntie:
Then I drove over to Nerdtopia to see my parents. We ended up going to have dinner together in town. And then I came home and found a little card in my door that said, "Call me about your new furnace." It was a business card from Furnace Guy. I almost peed right there on the stairs. A new furnace?? No more furnace disaster?? No more hemorrhaging of propane and being woken up by furnace workers banging on the door at 7am?? Whoooo hooooo!
And then I finished off the day by meeting Pringle and Sprinkle and a variety of other girls in town for a good old fashioned ladies night. It was wonderful. Somewhat of a perfect day, really. And I'll always be able to remember it when I look at my little frog. Thank you, Auntie.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Last year, I made a little container garden in Chicago to try desperately to have a garden experience in my concrete jungle. My celosias were HUGE. See them here. It was such a treat to go out and water them and receive complements from all of my little, old Polish neighbor ladies.
Right about the time I bought all of my celosias this year, I learned I might have to move out of Farmhouse Villa. So they once again ended up in containers, on my lovely AstroTurf-covered front steps (cough). I also had a small yellow-pink-peach lantana that I didn't know what to do with. So they all ended up in the same container, even though they don't match. And now, they are crowding each other. A lot.
I briefly considered replanting them in the flower bed to give them more room, but then I realized that I might kill them in the transfer. I'm not that good at transplanting. I would be a terrible hair plug doctor. So they keep growing and crowding and stretching.
I've started thinking of myself like the lantana lately.
I'm still working on carving out a new life for myself. So far, I've done a good job of keeping my head above water. I'm not starving yet. And that contract that just ended? Turns out they're working on a new one for me. Whee! But I ultimately am going to have to find something with benefits, so it's a topic that stays in the back of my brain files always, beeping at times. Waking me up from naps and whatnot.
The most interesting thing about the lantana is that it just keeps reviving itself. Flowers bloom, turn from yellow to pink to peach, die, grow some seed pods, and then the process starts all over again. Just when I think it's finished, it's not.
I am the lantana. Just as I am the understory.
I'm rebirthing and growing and changing while being surrounded by the General Society, which does things a little differently than I do. I am Odd. I do not quite Fit In. I do not quite Follow the Rules. But look at how wonderfully I can stretch out my little stems and Take Over! Bwah ha ha!
But in all seriousness, I've been greeted with odd looks and raised eyebrows more than once since moving back to Farmhouse Villa. Some people think I am a lesbian because I'm an older single woman. Some people think I'm a plotting vixen waiting to steal husbands because I'm older single woman. No one understands what I do for a living. What is an editor? What are you doing all day out in that farmhouse?? Why don't you buy a house and find a husband? Why don't you get a Real Job? What is it you do again? Why did you move here? You LIKE IT??
But I don't care what they think. I honestly feel bad for people who can't see the beauty of Farmsville and just appreciate it for what it is. Some have done the same thing with the same people for so long that they have completely lost their ability to grow and change and adapt to new situations. Change scares them. It once scared me too, but not anymore. Now each change presents a new opportunity for something exciting to happen. I'll embrace it. No more doom and gloom. No more scared little Blondie cowering in the corner.
I can make this life into whatever I want it to be. Sure, there will be work and hardships involved. Sure, I'll crumple into a ball crying sometimes at the frustration that comes with the growing pains. But ultimately, I'll thrive. I'll drop a few seeds, and move on. The celosias can crowd me all they want. I'll still grow bigger than they ever will.
Friday, August 08, 2008
I know, I know. There are pictures of bras on my blog. STOP THE PRESS. THE PERVS ARE COMING!! But even though my father reads this blog, as do many members of my extended family, I just gotta write about my bra shopping trip yesterday. It was priceless.
In order to understand why this trip was so amazing, we must go back in time. To the last time I went bra shopping. My ex and I were visiting Little because she had JUST BEEN BORN. We were in Kansas City. Four years ago. FOUR. At the time, all of my bras had been pretty much destroyed by time. So I had taken to wearing the last remaining bra I had--a strapless push-up bra that no longer pushed anything up. It also was falling apart. I am not what you would call, oh, fashionable.
So I'm holding Little, who had a problem vomiting every few minutes at the time, when she horks all over me, down my shirt, and INTO my bra. After we all got done laughing, Dorothy suggested that I go change my bra while she washed the one I was wearing. My ex said:
"Please, just throw it away. She wears that bra EVERY day. Take her shopping."
Dorothy looked at me with horror. So I borrowed one of her bras and we left the men alone while we went to Target. I hate shopping. Hate it. I start sweating; I get angry and annoyed. I wanted to get in and out of Target as fast as I could. So I picked out a couple of bras, tried them on, and scoffed as Dorothy looked at the one I chose and said, "That's a Mom Bra." As in our mother. I said, "I have Mom's body. Duh." I totally didn't care. It was a basic bra, no underwire, boring. I bought that damn thing in four colors. Shopping trip done!
Flash forward to the present day. I still wear those bras every day. They no longer support me. They are stretched out like you wouldn't believe. Even when I tighten the straps as much as I possibly can, the straps still fall out of whatever I'm wearing and twist themselves up. It's embarrassing to have your bra showing no matter what you do. I wear tank tops all summer long. With straps hanging out.
Yesterday, I realized I was finished with all of the work for my contract. Hmmm. That finished a little early. No more work! What should I do? Then I started thinking about my clothing. How it's all falling apart. How my limited supply of tank tops get thrown in the wash every week because of mowing and yard work and the heat of Iowa. Time for new clothes? Yes. So I called Ma, and we headed to Old Navy. The way I roll with shopping is that I go to Old Navy, hit the clearance section, and fill my cart. I don't even need to try things on (unless it's jeans, which I didn't need yesterday). So I filled my cart with a variety of $3.99 tank tops (which are sooo cute), and other items. Nothing was over $15. A full cart later, I was ready to go look for bras. Because it was just time, and I couldn't ignore my sagging breasteses anymore.
So we headed over to the shiny new JCPenny across town. I'm not really a Victoria's Secret kind of gal, after all. Everything in there has 5 inches of padding and underwires that shoot out and stab your chest after like a month.
Shopping in the middle of the day on a Thursday = no one is there. Which = no sweating and anger. It was peaceful shopping. I picked out 10 bras and went into the dressing room. OOF. Problems!
I wear an A. An A, I tell you. But no, they didn't fit.
Ma from the peanut gallery outside the door: "I think you need a B, honey."
Me: "No I don't. I'm an A. I've always been an A. I'll always be an A."
Ma: "Um, I think you need a B, honey."
Me: "No. Why don't these FIT???"
I was starting to get pissed. The bras were tight all the way around and in the boob area? They just looked Wrong. I was starting to sweat. There are a LOT of lights in the bra department of JCPenny. Just sayin'.
So after much wrangling, my mother convinced me to try a B. And go from my standard 36 to 38.
RELIEF. Happiness. Joy? Oh yes, Joy. I could breathe. And so could my boobs. And the bras? Less momish than before. Because I'm not my mom, after all. The one above? Super cute. Can be transformed into a racer back. And SOFT. It's from a brand called Barely There. It has a little foam in it to keep the Turkeys from Being Done (ahem, Jennifer Aniston). I'm not usually an underwire kinda gal. Not necessary. But this one works OK. I'm also not a fan of the bras with giant pads in them for the little-boobed sect. I don't want to false advertise. And my experience with padding is that it eventually mushes itself up into awkward shapes in the bras. These bras I chose just have that light foam layer in them to keep you from Flashing Your Headlights at the whole town on a crisp summer evening. Whew!
Next up, another slightly momish bra with no underwire by Ambrielle. I also picked up exactly ONE kicky, funky-colored fun I'm Single Bra by this company, but I refuse to post the picture to spare my father. So you get the normal one:
And then we have the UBER-comfy bra by Warner. And it's purty, too. Wheeee:
So of course, I got all of these bras in multiple colors so I wouldn't have to go bra shopping for another four years. Ma heaved a huge sigh of relief that she won't have to see my purple Target strap sticking out anymore. I came home and put on my new bra and felt like a million dollars. I threw on a new tank top and went to meet my friends at the watering hole. And when I confessed to the girls what I'd been up to, they admired my shapely breasteses. They said I look much more comfortable and held UP. Whooo hoooo!
There is nothing quite as rewarding as one of your best girlfriends looking straight at your tiny chest and saying, "Wow, your boobs look GREAT!"
But deep down inside, I knew why they looked great. Cause I gained some weight. Oh well. At least I have boobs now.
Wait. Now I need new undies. Sigh.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
I recently got paid to write something. When the check came in the mail, I immediately felt the need to put it toward credit card debt. But then one of my colleagues said, "No, it's found money. Found money goes to fun things!" I enjoy her concept of "found money." It's not like I knew how much I would get paid, or that I would get paid at all. I actually submitted just for fun and POOF money came.
My mother taught me to reward myself early on. This usually came in the form of a good report card = a piece of fancy chocolate at the mall. As I got older, I took rewarding into my own hands. Good grades and finished finals = a new sweater at the hippie shop. Things like that. When I became a professional editor, I started rewarding myself at the end of large projects with jewelry. These earrings? Oh, these are from when I finished the elementary program. That bracelet? Oh, that's from when I finished the libraries. So I have a little collection of Work Rewards Jewelry that I enjoy quite a bit.
When I lived in Portland, there was a store called Something Silver that I adored. I got a few pieces of nice jewelry there over the years. And whenever I need to call in a reward for myself, that's the first Web site I check. The prices are good, the jewelry is high-quality and beautiful, they have excellent customer service, and they have regular sale items. They also have killer jewelry cleaner, which I need often because all of my silver jewelry tarnishes on a regular basis.
So as a reward to myself for my writing gig, I bought the earrings above. Aren't they puuuuurty? The earrings were $41, which is more than I usually spend on a reward (my project completion jewelry ran from $15-$20), but I know they will be well worth it and will last for years to come.
And when I wear them I will think, "Gee, I'm purty."
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
I seem to have a slight case of ADD right now. I'm having trouble keeping my brain on just one thought path. For some reason, I seem to have an awful lot of things I'm Supposed to Be Doing Right Now. I need to reconnect with old friends. I need to keep track of bills and remember to schedule things and find a new job for the fall. My current contract ends soon. Back to the job hunt. ARG. Hate that.
And so all of these things are slowly snowballing into a mess of Post-It note reminders all over my desk. And little blips of thought just as I'm falling asleep. Ah, sleep, how I miss you. I seem to be having a TERRIBLE time sleeping lately. I can't even fall asleep for a little nap. I just keep blipping back awake. AWAKE AWAKE.
Wait. I need to Do That. I need to Fix That. I need to Email That Person. I need to Clean That.
I'm usually quite the sedentary person. I can lie on a couch and watch the DVR with the best of them. Not lately. I just start a good 48 Hours Hard Evidence, and I start to Think About Things.
What is going on here? Why is my soul at unrest? It's annoying.
I need to go out to the yard swing and just swing. Sit with myself. Listen to my inner beasts. Find out what is truly troubling me. I know I have the key to this dilemma, I just have to listen for it. Speak, inner Blondie, tell me what is wrong. And then we can work on fixing it.
Monday, August 04, 2008
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm not afraid of spiders. But come ON already. They are EVERYWHERE. It's driving me nuts. Before I turned on the AC for the summer, giant black hopping spiders were coming in and setting up shop. If I came after them with a paper towel, they hopped or ran away. It was totally annoying. I have a variety of small house spiders, and they don't bother me. Either Webster eats them or they eat whatever flies in the door on a hot summer night. If I can't see a web somewhere, I'm fine with it. But outside? Outside is slowly becoming Spider Mecca. WTF?
Since it is still HOT HOT HOT in Iowa, I went out this morning to give the plants a morning drink. While out there, I decided to pull some seed pods off of this snapdragon plant above. I've been collecting them for next year. And so I reach in and um. No. That's not a seed pod. That's a spider. It LOOKED like a seed pod and FELT like a seed pod, but no. It resisted me and then ran back and cuddled up with the other seed pods. Waiting. Hunting. Sleeping? Click on the picture to blow it up and take a better look. If you aren't...SCARED.
On a daily basis now, I walk out the front door into a spider web. Sometime overnight, a bunch of these little guys get together and take over the front stairs. It's probably my fault for having so many flowers sitting there. But come ON. You would think that me ripping them apart each day might dissuade them? No.
I had no idea Iowa had this many spiders. I don't remember this from my youth.
So then I go to water the geranium and see a beautiful web. I gave it a little splash of water to make it show up better. Again, click it to see it better:
And then there is the yard. I haven't mowed this week because it's been too hot and I would faint in the yard and the lawnmower would turn around and run me over. So I inadvertently gave the spiders an opportunity to nest. Last time I mowed a spider that had a body (not including legs) the size of a half dollar stood in the grass and challenged me. I put the mower outtake right next to it to encourage it to go the other way. Um, no. It STILL stood there. These spiders are huge and not intimidated easily. And now they are making webs all over my yard. Everywhere. Every couple of feet, I have one of these:
Makes me reeeeeally excited about mowing again.
In other news, the hostas are showing signs of life. I find hostas to be incredibly boring. They just grow. All summer. No flowers, nothing pretty about them. Just big leaves. But for some reason, everyone around here is obsessed with them. Dorothy and Ma: Hostas! Hostas! Blah blah hosta hostas hosta. Hosta hosta? Ooooh, hostas! I still don't understand the attraction. But anyway, I remember how small they are when they started (click here to see), so the fact that they are this big now is rather impressive:
And I am assuming these are flower buds?
I certainly hope so. And after waiting all summer, they'd better be f*cking pretty. Just sayin'.
Last but not least, King and Webster are just as baffled by my passion flower vine as I am. She just keeps kicking out more vine. I have to constantly move her out of my way while I clear the spider webs each day. Next summer, I'm totally buying a huge trellis for her. Either that or she's going to take over the house. Without flowers. Do you think she will grow fruit soon?
And yes, that is both King and Webster sitting in their standard Mommy Is Outside We Must Watch positions. So cute, my little babies. MAR.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Recently, I've been reminded a few times of Pool Check. As in when once an hour, the lifeguards blow their whistles, force all the kiddos out of the pool, and stare into the water to make sure no one is stuck down there on the drains. In retrospect, that's kinda creepy. But when I was young, Pool Check was the time to get out, go get some sugar, and stand under the shower thing in the bathroom to stay warm until you could get back in the pool again.
Dorothy recently wrote about her pool memories here. I do recall her working at the concession stand, and her inability to make eye contact with me at the time. I was Not Cool. Hrumph. And let me tell you, Iowa is HOT HOT HOT right now. Heat index should get to 115 today. This means I will NOT be mowing my lawn. It will have to be a shaggy mess, fine. And even though I shudder violently at the thought of putting on a suit again in front of Other People, I would almost dare to claim that if we had an outdoor pool here in Farmsville, I'd be in it today. Almost.
Why don't we have a pool? Well, there IS an outdoor pool. It's just empty. And apparently, it's the cause of much controversy around here. Two sides are discussing it. One side says the pool is old, broken, and unsafe. The other side says the pool itself is fine, but the water tower next to it is old, broken, and unsafe. Hmmm. Let's see. I have an idea! Tear down the freakin' water tower and let me go to the pool!!!!! Seriously. The children are HOT. Cranky. I see them playing in sprinklers everywhere I go. And there is a huge uptick in the amount of outdoor private pools in the area. They are in people's driveways, for crying out loud. Fill. The. Pool.
Oh wait. The town council is not going to read my blog and agree and do it today. Drat.
Yes, there is an indoor pool at the health club, but seriously, who wants to be INSIDE all summer? With screaming, echoing children? Sigh.
At least I can share a good pool story.
When I was in sixth grade, I was fat. FAT, I tell you. And I had this friend. She was kinda fat, too. Not like me, but we were healthy. Growing. Changing. So I bought a giant alligator that was long enough for the two of us to fit on. We took that thing to the pool every day one summer. I wrote MINE! on the bottom of it with a Sharpie. We swam with it, bounced on it, and dragged it out of the water every time we heard POOL CHECK!
One day, it wasn't as inflated as it should be. She sat on one end and I sat on the other. Then we started using it as a kind of watery sea saw. We were getting some good height when BAM! Popped it. Alligator died. No more alligator. So sad. But we laughed and laughed and laughed. And for the next ten years, we sent each other alligator Christmas ornaments, cards, and toys. To remind ourselves of our fatness.