Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I can't wait for actual senility to set in!

I've mentioned this before, but Kevin and I have a running joke about starring in our own sitcom called My Idiot Boyfriend because of all the absent-minded, bone-headed stunts he pulls (and I say that with love, truly). The theme song sounds similar to the one from The Patty Duke Show, in case you're wondering.

Well, last night was a new episode. Kevin got home from work about 10:30 and said it had started snowing again on his walk home, and then asked where I had gone that night. Act I of the episode went like this:

Me: "What do you mean? I didn't go anywhere."

Idiot Boyfriend (IB), looking puzzled: "Then why did you park the car out front?"

Me: "I didn't even go outside, much less move the car for no reason."

IB, now looking worried: "I didn't see the car in the garage when I came in through the back yard."

Me: "Kevin! Are you sure you didn't drive to work?"

IB: "No, no, I walked. Hang on, let me go look out front."

Sound of front door opening. Long pause. The front door slams, followed by the sound of IB running down hallway to my office. Act II begins:

IB: "The car's not out front!"

Me: "And you're sure you didn't drive to work?"

IB: "No!"

Me: "You actually looked in the garage when you came home?"

IB, blank stare: "Well . . . I think so. I'll go look again."

Sound of back door opening and IB's feet crunching on the snow down the path to the garage. Long pause, and then the sound of IB running back inside.

IB: "Lisa, the car's NOT IN THE GARAGE!"

Me, mouth hanging open: "Uh . . . "

IB: "I can't believe someone stole it!"

Me: "Should we call the police? Crap, I'm not dressed!"

IB: "The registration's in the car! Do you remember the license plate number?"

Me: "Of course I don't! And you're positive you didn't drive to work?"

Long pause. The clock ticks. The sun rises and sets repeatedly. Spiderwebs grow in the corner of my office. The buildings outside the window change; some are torn down, and new ones go up. Finally, IB's eyes lose their blank look, and comprehension dawns. Act III begins:

IB: "You know what? I did drive to work."

Me: Wordless sputter, accompanied by look of pure rage.

IB, hastily: "I'll run back and get it!"

IB throws on his coat and runs out the back door. I take this opportunity to look up the benefits of gingko biloba on the Internet and consider hiring a home healthcare worker to accompany IB everywhere.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

And this is an edited list

I watched Good Morning, Vietnam with Daniel last night (who liked it a lot), and I kept thinking how young Robin Williams, Bruno Kirby, and Forest Whitaker looked. Does that make me old? Oh, hush.

I've tried to start an entry three or four times, and I keep deleting them. I think I have a low-level general pissiness going on, and nothing seems to satisfy me. I'll type a few sentences, and then think "Oh, who wants to read about that?" Does that ever happen to anyone else?

For lack of a topic, I'm just going to list some things that are bugging me, in no particular order of importance:

  1. The newspaper changed the format of the Sunday insert for the TV schedule. It's much bigger yet more difficult to read, and the arrangement of each day's listings makes no sense. For example, on one left-hand page are the entries for Tuesday night's cable channels; on the right-hand page are the Tuesday night AND Wednesday night network channels. To see Wednesday night's cable channels, I have to turn the page--and that's just not right. And, AND, there are no show descriptions now. Hmmph.
  2. Speaking of the newspaper, would it kill the delivery adult to toss the paper somewhere in the vicinity of my front porch? This morning, I had to scurry outside, in 10 degrees, all the way down my front steps and halfway down the sidewalk to my next-door neighbor's house--while wearing pink pajamas and a huge fuzzy white robe.
  3. Daniel called me the other night from a friend's house. When I answered, he said "Hey, Mom. It's Dan." Dan?? Dan who? I have a son named Daniel, who only a few months ago corrected people who called him Dan. I don't like the name Dan. Dan's a breezy jock who likes to have a few brewskies with his buds. Gah. Freakin' Indiana and its residents' propensity for shortening names in any way possible. Ever since I moved here, teachers and other adults have tried to shorten Daniel's name, and in the past few years, kids at school have, too. I'm not sure whether Daniel's caved or wants to establish a new identity; either way, it upsets me.
  4. I pay most of my bills online and do about 95% of my work on the computer. Why, then, do I still have stacks and stacks of paper in my office??
  5. I've had it with trying to turn over in the middle of the night and being unable to move because a 13-pound cat is draped across my legs. Not curled up sweetly next to me, not lying at the foot of the bed--across my legs.
  6. Holly now snores even when she's AWAKE. I have to turn the TV up to deaf-person levels to hear it above her floor-rattling snores.
  7. Jon's closing the used bookstore at the end of February because he got a great offer to buy the building and, he claims, he's ready to retire. Where am I supposed to get all my books now? His store was within walking distance, plus I got Daniel's 15% employee discount. The place also functioned as an old-fashioned general store; I could hang out there for an hour drinking free coffee and get all the town gossip and news.
  8. Gene, the guy who lives behind me, across the alley in back of my garage, has three grown sons who leave their giant trucks and a freakin' BOAT parked in his driveway, which is approximately two feet long. Therefore, their big-ass vehicles stick partway out into the alley, which means backing out of my garage and into the alley requires excellent hand-eye coordination and split-second timing to turn the wheel at just the right moment. My skillz in both areas? Not so mad.
  9. Now that this winter is finally turning cold, my hair is one big ball of static electricity.
  10. One of my clients lost an invoice I sent in December. Even with an expedite order on it, I won't see the check for another two weeks.
  11. The pain-in-the-ass author I wrote about a few weeks ago is a week behind now on a chapter, and I just found out from another author on the team that he's having surgery for an "old war injury." I don't know what "war" he was in; he's too young to have served in WWII or Vietnam, and I'm pretty sure he wasn't involved in the Gulf War. The other author informed me that PITA author will probably have to drop out of the project. I can't wait to pass that news along to Kid Manager. The poor thing will plotz.
  12. Several movies up for Academy Awards are just now hitting theaters around here. Once again, I'll be watching the Oscars having seen only a handful of the nominated movies. Oh, well. Ellen DeGeneres is hosting, so that's some comfort.

That is all--for now. Heh.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Partly scattered babble, clearing toward morning

Here are the answers for the word quiz thingie from the other day:
  • Bart's advice to chill out: Don't have a cow, man
  • Symbol of Hinduism: Sacred cow
  • A long time: Until the cows come home
  • A money-making endeavor: Cash cow

The next word quiz has "saint" or "St." in each answer:

  • An herb that makes you feel good (no, the other one)
  • An orange Monopoly property
  • Two of the three U.S. Virgin Islands
  • A 1980s TV medical drama


I'm feeling scattered this morning, so I'm going to follow up on a couple of past entries to fool myself into thinking I'm all organized and clear-headed and smart. First, Daniel seems to be coping well with the little red-haired girl's rejection of him. He's stopped moping around and dragging his feet, as though the "Volga Boatmen" song was his own personal soundtrack. His dad bought him an iPod as an early birthday present, and a new electronic gadget takes the sting out of quite a few heartbreaks, especially for 17-year-old boys. I suspect he's still harboring a crush for her, but crushes don't go away overnight.

Second, thank you for your understanding comments about my mom. As a few of you pointed out, laughing my irritation off is probably my best option, and usually, I do that fairly well. My sense of humor seems to fly out the window when my mom's around, though. Why is that? I know I'm not the only one with this problem, and I don't think it's confined to daughters, although it might be more common than in sons. I've known friends who are smart, funny, well-adjusted, and capable, yet are reduced to humorless masses of insecurity and self-doubt after one encounter with their mothers. If there's a school where moms learn to wield that power, I missed the enrollment deadline--because of procrastinating, as my mom would be quick to point out.

Third, uh . . . is there a third? I can't think of anything. Well, if I left a question (or participle) dangling, nudge me.


AI blather: Tuesday's auditions in Memphis were blessedly less full of The Crazy, although my retinas were still seared by images of unfettered breasts. If that's going to be a theme this season, I'm not strong enough to handle it. A woman named Janita strode into the auditorium with her boobs threatening to escape the tenuous hold of her halter dress and described herself as "innocent and conservative." Clearly, self-awareness has gone out of fashion these days. She also claimed that her attention to fashion details helped boost her "confidentiality." Oy. I swear these contestants say things like that just to cause me pain.

However, I was impressed by a guy with the improbable and vaguely porn-star-like name Sundance Head. Odd Amish beard, but a clear, strong, bluesy voice. I liked Melissa the backup singer, too--gorgeous voice but not much confidence in her talent, or maybe she just has a degree of humility not found in most AI hopefuls. Most surprising was Sean, who looked like a cross between Castro as a young man and a scruffy Jesus dressed in fatigues. Immediately, I thought "Oh, crap, another deluded crazy person." He sang Johnny Cash's "God Is Gonna Cut You Down," an interesting choice (and, much to my relief, not a Christina Aguilera song), and did a decent job. I bet he got a thumbs-up from the Man in Black. If he makes it to the final 10, I'll be curious to see what kind of makeover the AI stylists give him.

Funniest line of the night: When Simon asked Robert "I'm the Next Elvis" Holmes, who also said he's writing a story about his life, how he saw his story ending, he said "With a period." Bwah!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Attack of the bed head

Robyn double-dog-dared me to post a picture of my morning bead head because I claimed mine was way worse than hers. I think the pictures here speak for themselves. Also, they're proof of my deep, abiding love for y'all. I wouldn't reveal myself in all my puffy, pasty, unmadeup glory if I didn't adore you (and you, especially).


I drove Hilda the Honda to Curve$ yesterday, and I'm adjusting to an automatic fairly well, even though my left foot still tries to hit the clutch at times. One feature I haven't tried yet is cruise control. Does anyone actually use it? I hear it's supposed to be handy on long highway trips, but it seems a little silly to me. Is pressing the gas pedal that much work? I think it's my Amish streak that's objecting . . .

Speaking of Curve$, I solved all the word puzzles yesterday and got five Curve$ bucks! They're fake money used as a sort of motivational strategy; for example, you get a buck for each workout, another one each time you work out three times in one week, and so on. The thing is, I'm not quite sure what I can use them for. The manager said something vague about buying special merchandise, but when I asked whether she meant the T-shirts on display, she looked confused and said "Well, not really." Whatever. I'm still collecting them because . . . well, I might amass a huge pile of them and then take over the world! Mwah-ha-ha-ha. Yeah, I'm an easy mark.

Here are the word puzzle questions I answered; each answer phrase includes the word "cow." You can leave your answers in the comments.

  • Bart's advice to chill out
  • Symbol of Hinduism
  • A long time
  • A money-making endeavor

Uh, I can't remember the last one. I get no points for memory skills. Good thing I can do the daily USA Today crossword puzzle again to exercise my brain. Jane had mentioned doing this puzzle online every day, so a few months ago, I decided to give it a try as part of my efforts to ward off early senility. I got addicted quickly. Last week, I couldn't get the page to display, though--it kept showing up blank! I tried substituting paper crosswords, but I missed the "Ta-da!" sound USA Today's puzzle plays when you finish solving it. And it gives you a grade, which my nerdy little soul delights in. Daniel updated Flash on my computer last weekend, and I think that fixed the display problem. My only quibble is that there are no new puzzles on the weekends, but I have my logic puzzle magazine as an alternative. I'm puffy, pasty, AND a geek! Could I make myself sound more attractive? I think not.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Linda would have picked Babs, of course

This past weekend was quite a test of the few patience and forbearance molecules I possess. Kevin and I drove to Dayton with my parents, spent Saturday night there, and then drove the Honda back home Sunday. Because I started the weekend out so angry at my mom, I think, I had a harder time than usual handling her. Even if Kevin didn't do any of those things I wrote about last time, he'd deserve a gold star for performing his boyfriendly duties so admirably this weekend. It's very possible he prevented a matricide by spotting signs of me potentially blowing a gasket and skillfully changing the subject, suggesting a walk, or offering to run an errand for my mom and asking me to go with him. Escape is definitely the way to go sometimes.

Despite all the bitching in my last entry, I do love my mom, and I don't know why she gets on my nerves so much when she engages in her incessant babble about trivial, boring topics or reads the newspaper out loud to whoever's in the room or waxes poetic about the wonders that are my sister Linda or makes snippy little comments about my dad or, or . . . As Kevin points out, she's not going to change. All those annoyances are part of my mom's makeup, and I should just learn to accept them. Getting angry at downright rudeness is understandable and justifiable, but the woman isn't going to stop humming tunelessly just because it drives me crazy, right?

Speaking of her humming, a funny thing happened on the drive to Dayton Saturday. Well, first a quick recap of this habit of hers for those who haven't heard about it: My mom can't remember the words to ANY song, but when she hears a song she likes on the radio or TV, she hums along, loudly and tunelessly, occasionally throwing in a couple of words she does know. One of my favorite stories about the brain-numbing quality of her humming happened on a long drive through Georgia when Daniel was about three. My mom was playing a tape of the soundtrack from Yentl--on endless loop, no less. So for four hours, I kept hearing something along the lines of this: "Papa, can you . . . hmmmm HMMMMMMM . . . Papa hmmmmmmmm hmmmmm . . . Did you hmmmm HMMMMMM . . . " YOU try to stay sane in that situation; I dare you.

Anyway, my mom was sitting up front with me while I drove, and she started shuffling through the tapes she had in the car. "Well, I have a tape Linda made me [because Linda is the good daughter, you know] of Sarah Vaughan and Patsy Cline. Oh! I have a Barbra Streisand tape!" I heard Kevin snort in the back seat, and I COULD NOT LOOK at him in the rear-view mirror because I knew I'd burst out laughing. I almost tripped over my tongue saying "Sarah Vaughan sounds good" as fast as I could. Disaster averted: I think I would have driven off the road in self-defense if she'd put that Streisand tape on.

However. I'd given her my brand-new People magazine to read on the drive--one I had not read yet, let me emphasize--and she summarized every damn article out loud to me. Every article. Articles I hadn't read yet. Did I mention that? Sigh.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Wow, I'm wordy when I'm mad

Waking up at 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. and not being able to go back to sleep has lost all its charm--if it had any to begin with. I'm still angry about something my mom said yesterday, which is why I can't sleep, I'm sure. Also, I might be doing a little cussing, so fair warning for the faint of ears . . . uh, eyes. Whatever.

My parents and I were driving back from the license branch; I don't remember what we were talking about exactly--something about unexpected expenses, probably. Out of what seemed like complete left field, my mom asked, in a snippy tone, "Does Kevin help you AT ALL with finances?" A) None of her damn business, and 2) WTF?

I realize my mom has no idea what the real world is like for most people; except for the first year of marriage, when she worked while my dad finished his degree on the G.I. Bill, she's never had to work a day in her life. My dad worked for the same company his entire career, made decent money, and got a damn good pension and retirement benefits, so she hasn't had to worry about juggling bills or, well, much of anything. My dad handles everything, including a lot of the housework since his retirement and her constant aches and pains started. She's never had crushing, neverending guilt and worry gnawing at her over whether she's spending enough time with her child because she's a single mother trying to keep a roof over that child's head, food in the refrigerator, and shoes on his feet. She's never had to go back to work at 9:30 at night, after yawning through reading a bedtime story, because she stopped working at 3:00 to help her son with homework and cook a real dinner for a change instead of throwing frozen chicken nuggets in the oven (see guilt, above). She's never had to see her biggest client fold, with no warning, after a corporate merger and have a main source of income dry up suddenly, and then overcome innate shyness to pursue new clients aggressively.

Gah, so what am I saying? Right, her concept of the real world is pretty skewed. I could go on and on about Kevin's disadvantages growing up and how they affected--and still do--his adult life, but I don't have the time or heart to get into it. Suffice it to say that supporting a family with the kind of jobs that are open to you when you don't have a degree or other training is difficult, yet he managed to support a wife and two small kids during his first marriage and somehow find time to start a mail-order business making rubber stamps (with no business training, either). He's a hard worker and extremely intelligent, but his "higher" education is self-taught.

Now take the wide disparity in our earnings. My hourly fee for editing is roughly 4.5 times his hourly wage. In addition, he has child support for his son and daughter, so about half his paycheck goes straight to his ex-wife. Family and Social Services has determined a certain amount for the support of two kids, and it makes not one bit of difference how large a percentage of his pay that amount is OR that his ex-wife earns about double his pay. So is it fair to split our expenses straight down the middle? Hardly. We've worked out an equitable financial arrangement, the details of which are no one else's business, particularly my mother's. Do I ever wish I had a partner who could take care of me financially or at least take more of the burden off my shoulders? Of course. I'm human--and even a whiny one at times.

What my mom doesn't seem to see are all the other burdens Kevin handles to try to make my life a little easier. Since I met him, I think I can count on one hand the loads of laundry I've done. I cook dinner only on nights he's working. He does the bulk of the daily cleaning and spends a good chunk of his days off running errands, making repairs, grocery shopping, doing yardwork, and the million other tasks that make up running a house and a family. He takes care of vet appointments and cleaning up the hair, vomit, and various other unpleasant byproducts of four pets.

When Daniel's waited until the night before a due date to begin a school project and discovered he needs poster board, Kevin's the one who makes the mad dash to Wal-Mart before closing time. When I'm sick, he takes care of me lovingly and competently. After the nightmare of going through stomach flu, bronchitis, and killer colds alone when I was single and had no help with child care (or me care), that's not a luxury I take for granted. He's there for me when I'm depressed, discouraged, scared, worried, or one of the other 100 Moods of Lisa, and when I'm frantically working to meet a dealine, he gets the hell out of my way and tiptoes into my office occasionally with coffee or a sandwich. He's loved and cared for Daniel without once crossing the line of trying to take the place of Daniel's father. He's proud of the work I do, and after eight years together, he still gets excited when he sees my name listed in a book's front matter. He's even taken my pub copies to work and shown them off to co-workers (much to my embarrassment). When do you think was the last time my mom asked me anything about my work? If you said "never," you win!

I'm sorry if this entry is scattered and incoherent, and right now, I'm wishing like hell I'd said all this to my mom. I was so taken aback at her rudeness that I just snapped "Of course he helps me financially, as much as he's able to!" And then, because I broke my parents' cardinal rule of no raising one's voice or showing anger *gasp* openly, she changed the subject and started chattering about Hallmark stores and the clothes my sister just bought and other topics no one but her gives a damn about while I sat there fuming. TANGENT ALERT: You think I'm kidding about her listing the clothes my sister just bought? I wish I were, but I'm dead serious. Linda bought a red suit, a black blazer, khaki pants, a white blouse--her clothing taste is as exciting and varied as she is--oh, who the hell cares?

My point--and I've got one or two in here somewhere--is that money isn't the only contribution a man (or woman, for that matter) can make to a relationship. You would think a woman who was a housewife all her life would understand the value of those tasks that don't result in a paycheck but do keep a home and family running with some degree of order and harmony. You would think she'd be proud that I've built a business and an impeccable reputation with clients, but she shakes her head because I've neglected to dust my baseboards and forgot to send a birthday card to my Great-Aunt Eunice, who I met precisely once, 39 years ago. If I were a bigger person, I'd feel sympathy that she didn't have the opportunity to go to college or find a career and that she can't see beyond her own nose to understand a life that isn't exactly like hers. I'm still too angry to be that magnanimous, however.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Mafia mom

I'm about 99% sure the girl Daniel was planning to ask to the prom turned him down last night. He came home from the Brain Game match looking very downcast, and I knew immediately he'd been crying because of his red, puffy eyes. All he would say when I asked him what was wrong was that he just wanted to be alone and think about things.

Naturally, I wanted to express my anger at this little hussy who turned him down by breaking into Al Capone's rant about Eliot Ness in The Untouchables: "I want him DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND!" Everyone expresses their emotions with movies quotes, right? I did show some restraint, however, and limited myself to telling him he could talk to me anytime, if he changed his mind. Arrrgghhh. All the times I thought my heart was broken--they were nothing compared to what I'm feeling now over his first heartbreak. He'll get over it, I know, and I'd be more than a little worried if he never felt anything this deeply. Still . . . well, you know what I mean.


My parents are arriving around noon with the car. I forgot to mention that although it's in good shape, it's a '91 model, so don't envy me too much! Still, it's two years newer than the Amigo, so to me, it's practically brand-new. I drive cars forever, until they're falling apart in the driveway. In the case of my first car, a spiffy red Datsun, it was literally falling apart before I got rid of it. It was rusting so badly that chunks of it were dropping off, like a giant red molting snake. It was a great car, though. It withstood all kinds of abuse and neglect from me and always started up obediently, even in subzero weather and on a perpetually near-empty tank. I was so sad when I finally had to admit it was terminal that I think my dad was tempted to tell me it was going to a big farm in the country, where it would have plenty of room to run around and stretch its wheels and lots of other subcompact foreign cars to play with. Scarlett would have liked that.


Hee! My mom just called me from her cellphone to tell me they're running a little late. She uses it only when she and my dad are traveling, so she's not used to it and is convinced you have to scream into cellphones to be heard. I had to hold MY phone away from my ear about six inches to avoid hearing damage.

Time to do a last-minute Parental Visit Check for dust tumbleweeds rolling across the floor and dirty dishes in the sink!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cell phone virgins, old lady cars, and AI madness

Kevin has his own cell phone now, which is almost as momentous as the Amish deciding to embrace computer technology. Actually, I read that some Amish use cell phones for business purposes, so my analogy isn't all that great. Anyway, when he came home and told me he bought one, I was dreading having to teach him to use yet another electronic gadget. He's slightly technologically challenged. Well, more than slightly, to be honest, but to my surprise, he read the instruction manual and set up his address book all by himself! He also figured out how to lengthen the screen display time; I'd pointed out that it went dark awfully fast but had no idea how to fix it. He's so thrilled with his phone that it's unbearably cute. He even called me from work last night and informed me he was standing out in the parking lot while on break. I didn't get it at first and said "OK, and . . . ?" and he said "Isn't that COOL??" Awww, I remember when I was a cell phone virgin, too.


I have sad news: My car died. Well, it still has life signs, but it needs clutch work to the tune of $700, which is way too much to spend on an ancient car. When I wasn't in the depths of pre-empty-nest depression this week, I've been quietly freaking out over the no-car situation. Money's tight right now, and I can't afford to take on a car payment. My parents, bless their hearts, came to the rescue. My mom had offered a few months ago to give us her car so that Daniel had an automatic for learning how to drive; my car's standard transmission was pretty intimidating to him. At the time, he said he wasn't ready to drive, but my mom brought it up again when I told her about my car's imminent demise. So my folks are driving up tomorrow to bring the car, and then Kevin and I will drive them home Saturday and come back Sunday. The car's in great shape because my dad has taken obsessive care of it, but I'm a little sad that I'll have to drive an old lady car. People, it's a taupe Honda Accord. Waaaaaaaa! I'll miss my sporty red Amigo.


Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh, the American Idol insanity has begun! I can't tell you how happy that makes me. The parade of delusional people during auditions bewilders and delights me. I don't watch many reality TV shows, but AI has captured my undying loyalty, I'm afraid. Prepare yourself for me talking about it regularly, OK?

Tuesday night, Minneapolis auditions: I can't remember most of the auditioners because I was so overwhelmed with horror by the woman who referred to herself as "American Idol's Number-One Fan." Oh, my God, the crazy bug-eyes on this one! I wanted to hide, yet I could NOT look away. After the judges turned her down--and justifiably, owing to her painfully bad singing--she was stunned with disbelief. She insisted she's been taking voice lessons for six years and has a degree in vocal performance. What the . . . ? What educational institution would give her a DEGREE? I almost feel sorry for her because she's been getting robbed right and left. No one with an iota of conscience would take her money and assure her she had talent. Scary, kids.

Wednesday night, Seattle auditions: Is Seattle really the universe's black hole of talent? Damn. Apparently, it's the capital city for insane people, too. Hard to believe such a collection of mentally ill folks could exist outside a psychiatric hospital. Honest to God, it was one bizarre character after another. I think my retinas have permanent scars from the horror of Darwin "Call Me Mischa For No Apparent Reason" Reedy's unfettered breasts. She and her mother were like characters from an SNL skit.

Even though the two men who became fast friends while waiting in line were clearly deluded about their vocal talent, there was something sweet about them. They were so genuinely supportive of each other and took their rejection with a lot more dignity than others did. Kenneth, the short guy who went first, is one of the oddest-looking people I've ever seen, however. If Peter Lorre and Peewee Herman had a love child (biologically improbable, but go with it), it would be little Kenneth.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Who knew ex-husbands could have a purpose?

So should I go ahead and retitle this blog "Empty Nest Diaries"? Heh. Thank you all so much for your helpful comments, which made me feel a little less nutz. (Oh, and Ang, you can bet your ass I saved some of the things Daniel threw out! I think middle-aged men everywhere were weeping openly at the mere mention of Godzilla figures being discarded.) Oddly enough, I got some more help yesterday from an unexpected source: my ex-husband. I'd called him at work to ask him to kick in on some of Daniel's college expenses; the application fees are adding up faster than I'd imagined. After ironing that matter out, he asked whether Daniel's stomach was still bothering him. I said yes, but I thought the cause was nervousness over asking a girl out. He was surprisingly verklempt at the notion of Daniel having a crush on someone, and we both got teary reminiscing about Daniel's childhood. If you'd told me a few years ago my ex would be a comfort to me about anything, I would have laughed in your face. I guess it shouldn't be a shock that the other person who was there when Daniel came into the world might be able to offer something no one else really can.

Anyway, the highlight of the conversation was what he said when I asked why I'm having such a hard time with this transition. Other parents handle their kids growing up and going off to college without having an emotional nuclear meltdown. What's wrong with me? He pointed out that Daniel's growing up has been faster and more sudden than in most other kids, so it's more of a shock. I think he has a point. Daniel never went through the typical teenage rebellions or wanting to spend most of his time with his friends or stomping around yelling "I can't wait until I'm out of this house!" You know, all the things normal teenagers do.

Until a couple of months ago, he was perfectly content staying at home playing gin rummy or talking about books with me, having one or two friends over occasionally, and going to school and work. He did his chores without complaint, didn't talk back, didn't run around wild on weekends . . . in general, he was happy and well-adjusted and a delight to be around. I did worry a little because he didn't seem interested in going away to college; he talked about staying at home the first year or two and going to a nearby community college to complete his general education requirements instead. Given his personality and his history as a homebody, I figured he'd decided that path would be an easier transition for him. To be honest, I was more than a little thrilled he'd be around for a few more years.

I've always thought that I'm fairly resilient and handle change without too much angst. But sudden, radical change? Clearly, I'm not very adept at handling that--but I think that's all right. I'm not optimistic yet or Rebecca-of-Sunnybrook-Farm sunny and hopeful, and if a time machine that would whisk me back a few years suddenly appeared on my doorstep, I'd hop into it gladly. There's a wee chance I might possibly live through this next step, however, even if I DO need the help of my old friend Johnny Walker.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The constant rain isn't helping, dammit

Ang asked: How/why did you get into blogging? Good question, and one I'm not sure I could have answered until last week. I was looking through past entries to see when I got Charlie and got caught up reading about the month he was so sick. I'd forgotten a lot of the details--all the tests he went through, how long he was in the hospital, and so on. The entries reminded me, too, how frantic with worry I'd been and how supportive friends were. So I'd have to say being able to look back and relive events and feelings is part of the attraction of blogging/journaling.

So why don't I just keep a paper journal? I think because I need to know others out there hear me and, perhaps, understand. When I've kept a paper journal in the past, expressing myself privately wasn't completely satisfying--it was a bit like yelling into an empty canyon and getting only a faint echo. I knew how I felt, but did anyone else? An online journal makes me feel less alone and reminds me I'm not the only one who's ever felt a certain way.

Lisa said: Anyway I wanted to know what kind of animal you'd be if you could be anything? This answer isn't original, I'm sure, but I'd probably choose to be a cat. Cats can be moody and difficult and still be pampered and adored. What's not to love about that? I could get into their hedonistic, lazy nature, and I'm a big fan of frequent naps, too. Could I skip the killing of small rodents and birds, though? Ick!


I think that's it for the questions, but let me know if I skipped one. I'm a little scatter-brained these days because of the worrying. To be truthful, I'm becoming a basket case, and I hope to hell I snap out of it soon. Yesterday Daniel applied online to two colleges that would require living in a dorm--away from ME, in other words. Then, to top it off, he grabbed a trash bag and started tossing piles of junk that had been cluttering up his room. When I took some towels upstairs, I happened to glance into the trash bag. To my horror, I saw all the Godzilla figures he used to collect sitting on top of the pile. It looked like he was throwing away practically everything he played with as a kid, and I couldn't help seeing it as a symbol of getting rid of his childhood. I was reading too much into it, I know, but I'm a big ol' mass of irrationality right now.

I told Daniel there might be some things I'd like to save, and he said impatiently, "Look, Mom, it's just junk! I can't hang on to everything." OK, good point (and who's the adult here?), but does he want to discard his entire life before this year? So I did what any obsessed, crazy mother would do and hauled the bag out of the trashcan after he'd thrown it away. I sat on the back steps, sorting through the stuff, and came across the wooden triceratops skeleton we put together when he was 5. And I promptly burst into tears. I remembered how excited he was while we worked on it, chattering away about what a triceratops liked to eat and how it protected itself with its tail spikes. When the skeleton had dried, he ran to place it on the shelf in his room, letting out a roar as he made it head-butt the stegosaurus skeleton we'd finished a few weeks earlier.

And then I found the lump of coal from the Titanic's engine room that I'd sent away for as a birthday present when he turned 7 and the letter I wrote him on his 17th birthday, telling him how being his mother had made me a better person . . . and I fell apart. I'm sure I looked like a crazy person, sobbing over a bag of trash in the drizzling rain. (Good thing it was too damp for any of my neighbors to be outside.) I know, I know. He's almost 18 and all he can think about is getting away from home and starting an exciting new life. Of course he still loves me, but his home and his family aren't the center of his world anymore. I can't make him feel guilty for growing up; that's not fair to him, and I don't want to be that person. I'm not ready for this next step, though, and right now, I can't see past it. I feel as though I'm going to be sitting on those back steps in the rain forever, longing for something that's in the past and clutching a little wooden dinosaur skeleton.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Parenthood Is Hell: Reason 2,796

I have a confession: I've sunk to new lows in motherhood. I eavesdropped on my son's phone conversation, breaking every vow I'd made to respect his privacy. I have an excuse, however lame it might be; maybe mothers of teenaged sons will understand. Because Daniel's an only child and for several years, it was just the two of us, we've always been very close. I got used to him confiding in me and talking about his dreams and fears pretty openly.

The past couple of years, though, he's turned into a clam. We still talked about a lot of things, but he wasn't as forthcoming with his feelings. I knew this change was normal and somewhat inevitable, and I've tried not to pry, even though it killed me sometimes not to ask questions. I've learned new tactics to draw him out a little; for example, I tell him how out of place I felt sometimes in high school if I suspect he's worrying about not having a slew of friends. I try to pick good moments, when he's relaxed and the timing seems right, and I try to let him know I'm capable of listening without freaking out or judging him. It's so hard, though. God, all the times I worried myself sick about his eating habits or potty training or socialization--they were nothing compared to the hell of suspecting something's wrong and not being able to do a damn thing about it. Sometimes I want to shake him and say "Just tell me what's wrong! I can make it better!" And of course I can't. I can offer advice, I can empathize, I can comfort, but I can't fix his problems for him. I've lost the power to heal his hurts instantly with just a kiss.

So the conversation I overheard . . . I didn't intend to listen; I was here in my office, and Daniel was in the living room on the phone, but when I heard him mention a girl, my ears suddenly went on red alert. I've had a feeling for a few months that a girl might be at the root of his moodiness. Also, he suddenly stopped eating junk and took up exercising, and he's lost 16 pounds. He's mentioned this girl on his Brain Game team fairly often, too.

Last week, I started getting more worried about him. He kept complaining about his stomach hurting, and he's barely been eating. He's been edgy and staring into space and not acting like himself at all. I thought he might simply be nervous about the Brain Game match being televised last Wednesday, but his symptoms persisted after the match was over.

Well, I have my answer now: Daniel told his friend he's planning to ask a girl to prom, and he's been trying to find the right moment and work up the nerve to ask her. I overheard him say "I'm happy all day if I just get a chance to talk to her." I think my boy is smitten.

Now I'm as nervous as Daniel is, if not more so. He better hurry up and ask her soon because I can't take the uncertainty much longer! I'm agonizing over how she's going to respond, too. If she turns him down and breaks his heart, it's going to take every ounce of self-restraint I have not to hunt her down and ask if she has any idea what she's missing out on. Gah! Now I have to add romance ups and downs to the list of parental worries? I might have to take up heavy drinking or pharmaceutical aids to withstand the angst and drama.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Not quite ready for prime-time

And now the birds in Australia are dropping like, uh, flies. What is up with the birds, people?? Michael Crichton, you'd best be taking notes.


On to answering your questions! I have certain friends who know how easily I blush and have decided to make me squirm in embarrassment while answering their questions. However, I'm not backing down from a triple-dog dare, dammit. Heh. TMI-phobics and the squeamish might want to skip today's answers.

The inquisitive Janet asked: I would like to know when you lost your virginity, along with some sort of story about how it went. DO NOT try to say you can't remember that far back. And don't lie about your age either. See, the problem with people who know you too well is that they foresee all your excuses. All right, here goes--and keep in mind that in 1975, attitudes about sex were pretty lax. It wasn't quite the free-love 1960s but close. Also, incurable and fatal STDs hadn't reared their ugly heads yet.

I was 15 and had been dating my 19-year-old boyfriend for a few months. We'd been slowly inching (um . . . unfortunate choice of verb there?) toward doing "it," and he had recently given me his class ring, which I of course wrapped with the de rigeur strand of yarn to make it fit my ring finger. He'd been scouting around for a more romantic location than the backseat of his car, and one spring evening, we drove to the campus of the college he was attending, which was surrounded by woods. He parked and asked if I wanted to go for a walk through the woods. We walked for a while until we came to a spot where he'd earlier stashed a sleeping bag along with a bottle of Lancer's Rose. Back then, that wine was the height of sophistication--well, for middle-class kids in the Midwest, at least.

He spread out the sleeping bag, and we sat and talked and drank wine for a while. When the time came, I was lying on the warm flannel lining of the sleeping bag, looking up at the stars, and feeling relaxed and very loved. I realize now, after hearing several stories of painful or embarrassing first times, how lucky I was that he had a fair amount of experience and was patient and gentle. To this day, camping makes me feel romantic.

Whew. OK, that question was a snap compared to Sasha's question: What is your preferred sexual lubricant and why? Actually, a timely question because I just switched brands. Shortly before Christmas, I was browsing through the on-sale products on Drugstore.com looking for stocking stuffers for Daniel and Kevin: lip balm, shaving cream, and so on. I noticed a product called Liquid Silk, which sounded interesting (and was on sale, the real clincher), so I impulsively clicked Add to Cart. I'm now a big fan. It feels very natural, and there's no sticky residue at all, my main complaint with most lubricants.

I feel like an episode of Sex Talk with Sue Johansson. Tomorrow's topic: Positions for the Frail and Infirm! (I am SO kidding.)


I need a lie-down now to recover from all this frank birds-and-bees talk, so I'll answer more questions in the next entry. If you have a new or follow-up question, post away in the comments. I have a boring weekend ahead of me, so this will give me something to write about. Oh, and Neargem pointed out that I didn't have any pictures of Picard on my Flickr page. I think I posted a picture of him in an entry a few weeks ago, but I did leave the poor thing out of Flickr. He's camera-shy, so I don't have many photos of him, but I added a couple (link over there in the sidebar).

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Your burning questions answered!

I'll try to answer as many questions as I can in this entry, but I'm a wordy thang and would feel responsible if your eyes crossed from reading a looooooong entry. Also, I'm a Libra and can't answer questions simply because doing so would involve making a decision (eeeek). So in the order in which I received them:

Which should you trust more--your head or your heart? I should have known Greg would ask a question that requires pondering instead of blithely dashing off "Why, my favorite color is turquoise!" Heh. By the way, check out the site he mentioned as the source of his question. I got lost for quite a while reading some interesting essays.

So to answer the question . . . I want--with all my heart, even--to say you should always trust your heart, and 20 years ago, I would have answered that way without hesitating. In a heartbeat, even. Since then, I've learned that my instincts can lead me to make some bad choices. For a while, that lesson made me bitter, and I vowed I'd rely only on cold, hard logic. I'd be sensible! I'd make decisions rationally, with a mature amount of consideration and thought! Surely my intellect wouldn't betray me, right?

Wrong. I refused to take some risks because they weren't logical and didn't ensure a known outcome; as a result, I missed opportunities for happiness that I regret now. Sometimes you do have to take a leap of faith, whether it makes sense or not and no matter what warnings your head might be screaming at you. Although my answer sounds like typical Libran waffling, I have to say that trying to balance trusting my head and my heart is what works best for me.

Neargem said: Well, I for one would love to know more about your furballs (age, how you got them, funny personality traits, etc.).

I won't include pictures because I've posted some recently, and there's a set on Flickr here. In order of when I acquired them:

Cairo: Shortly after my ex-husband and I separated in 1996, a theater friend called to say he'd found a stray cat with kittens and invited me over to see them. Daniel and I fell in love with a sleek little gray kitten who he swore was an Egyptian cat (hee)--hence her name. We brought her home, and she promptly began bossing around my elderly beagle, Bridgette. She also seemed to think Bridgette was her mother and occasionally tried to nurse from her. When Bridgette was hit by a car, Cairo paced around crying mournfully for a few months, until Holly (next up) came to join us. Now 11, she's a talkative cat and adept at seething looks of hatred until she's in the mood to cuddle. I realize she's neurotic and bitchy as all hell, but I adore her, and she has the silkiest fur in the world. She and Charlie tease each other mercilessly, and I swear I've caught them playing tag.

Holly: A few months after Bridgette died, my sister, who was volunteering at an animal shelter while in vet school, called to tell me a pregnant beagle there had a litter of puppies. I asked her to save one for me, and my parents took care of Holly until Christmas, when she became Daniel's surprise present. My parents had been calling her Molly, but Daniel decided Holly was a better name for a Christmas gift. She turns 10 this year and is a portly, lazy floor ham, unless she senses the possibility of escaping to run around the neighborhood scarfing up fine cuisine from trashcans. At that point, she's capable of ninja-like stealth and speed. Charlie can still prompt Holly into puppy-like running and playing with toys, but she's starting to show her age. She has occasional mild seizures and moves slowly and stiffly in the mornings, and she's developed a snore that would wake the dead. She's a sweet, affectionate dog who would probably lick an intruder to death.

Picard: Soon after we got Holly, the same kitten pusher I got Cairo from called to tell me about another stray litter. Being the suckers we are, Daniel and I went to his house and again fell instantly in love with a tiny black-and-white kitten. Daniel had just started his fascination with all things Star Trek and decided to name the kitten Picard. That tiny ball of fur is now a 9-year-old, 20-plus-pound behemoth. He's definitely a gentle giant, though. He's so laid-back and sweet--except when he's attacking the water jug, that is. The only other time he gets frantic is when his food bowl seems to be getting empty.

Charlie: Last and smallest, but certainly not least, is Charlie the chihuahua. Our next-door neighbor asked if we wanted him because he felt guilty about leaving three-month-old Charlie alone all day while he was at work. Daniel started the begging and groveling immediately, but I'd never been fond of small dogs, and besides, we had three pets already. Charlie's cute act was hard to resist, as were Daniel's promises to train and take care of him, so I caved. About six months later, Charlie became very sick with a mysterious illness and came close to dying. Worrying about him and caring for him during that time changed my casual affection for a cute puppy into . . . well, let's just say I'm absolutely crazy about that damn dog. I wouldn't go so far as to call him "my child"--I'm not that nuts yet--but I had no idea I could love a dog so much. He turns 4 this year and is cuddly, bossy, and thoroughly spoiled. His favorite game is herding the cats out of the room like a sheepdog, and he's convinced he's the size of a Great Dane.

Carol said: Not really a question but I would love to see more photos of the arts and crafts that you and Kevin do. I haven't done much artistically in a while, although I really want to. Kevin and I used to work on projects together in the art room upstairs quite often, and I miss doing that. Part of the problem is that room has gotten out of control because too many interests are crammed into one space. Kevin started creating electronic music a few years ago, so all that equipment is in there, and now he has projects for his artist-in-residence gig taking up space, too. A major cleaning and reorganizing is in the works so that I can work on some collage and rubber stamp projects again. In the meantime, I added some pictures to another Flickr set here, Carol.

And I said I didn't want to be long-winded! Janet, you dirty-minded girl, I'm going to have to save your question for the next entry, along with any new ones. There's still time to get a question in! Just leave it in the comments.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

In the news

This headline is one of the funniest I've seen in ages. CNN better watch its back, though; some Tony Soprano types might take it as a sign of disrespect at being called the "source of a stench."

That story amused me. Who expects a bad smell in New York? Wow. This story from yesterday, however, is downright bizarre. City officials kept insisting no environmental danger or gas leak existed, but what could cause that many birds to die suddenly and in such a precisely bounded space? An undetected EM pulse? I don't see how a viral infection or poisoning could make 60-plus birds of different species drop dead at once. Doesn't the story sound like the opening of a Michael Crichton novel?


Tomorrow Daniel's Brain Game team is traveling to a private college in Indianapolis, where their match will be taped for TV! I'm so excited; I can't wait to see it. He informed me last night that he has to wear a suit jacket and tie. Good thing for him he HAS an outfit already because if I had to run out and buy something with that little notice, he might not have lived to 18. Over his Christmas break, he kept in Brain Game "training" by watching Jeopardy! with me, and if that show allowed teams, he and I would obliterate any competition, I'm telling you. Heh. Poor Kevin almost has to leave the room to escape the intensity when we yell answers at the TV screen. Keep your fingers crossed Daniel's team does well tomorrow, will you?


Holly is snoring so loudly in the living room that I can't hear myself think! So instead of babbling on incoherently, I'm going to pull a Robyn and say I'll answer any questions in my next entry that you leave in the comments. Uh, questions about me, that is. I don't mean questions such as "What's the capital of North Dakota?" (Bismarck) or "What's the square root of 458?" (um, a rectangle?). I'll answer just about anything, as long as it doesn't make me blush!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

My trip to Mt. Pilot

Getting the hell out of Mayberry has such a positive effect on my mood and outlook that I really need to do it more often. Kevin and I decided to make the 1:00 movie in Indianapolis yesterday (and a big raspberry to AMC Theater's 4:00 matinee cut-off policy), and then browsed at Half-Price Books for a while. Oh, and we found a new thrift store next to HPB, run by the Jewish Women's something-or-other club, that's full of great clothes (all clean and in nice shape) and assorted housewares. I scored a caramel-colored corduroy jacket with a gorgeous striped silk lining for EIGHT BUCKS, and Kevin found a Dilbert tie for Daniel for 99 cents.

We debated between Dreamgirls and The Good Shepherd and finally settled on Dreamgirls, figuring it would be more fun to see on a big screen. I'm so happy we picked that movie because Oh. My. God. I adore musicals and splashy Broadway shows, and as some of you know, few things make me happier than Motown, so having the two combined with a fantastic cast would have been worth even the full ticket price. Beyonce and Jamie Foxx were okay--about what you'd expect--but Eddie Murphy truly surprised me. Honestly, I didn't think he had that kind of emotional performance in him.

Jennifer Hudson, however, knocked my socks off. I remembered her from American Idol two seasons ago as a woman with a big voice but definite crazy eyes, a sort of diva-in-training. Whew. She's way more than that. Amazing, powerful voice, but even better than that, girlfriend can act. I can't remember the last time I actually got chills watching someone in a movie; she was absolutely riveting every time she was onscreen. Beyonce who? What about Jamie Foxx in Ray? Point the camera back at Jennifer! About halfway through her big number ("And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"), I had tears running down my face. I couldn't help it; every time I thought I'd gotten myself under control, I'd well up again. The entire theater broke into applause at the end of that song, so I'm only a little embarrassed to admit her singing affected me that deeply. If she doesn't break your heart, too, well, I'm sorry, but you have the emotional capacity of the Grinch before hearing the Whos sing on Christmas morning.

Storywise, I think the movie loses a little steam after that point, and some characters aren't as well developed as they could be. Also, if you're not a fan of musicals, some of the form's cliches might bug you, such as people singing dialogue at each other. Despite the few drawbacks, go see it for Jennifer Hudson. Just be better prepared than I was, and take a kleenex. Maybe several.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

I bet I can fit a whole bag of popcorn in my purse

Of a four-author team, how many do you think showed up for yesterday's conference call about the book being 6 weeks behind schedule? That's right: one. ARRGGHH. One who didn't show is dealing with his father, who's very ill; besides, he's one of the most responsible authors, so I'm not worried about him. Mr. Conflict of Interest didn't show, of course, and the fourth guy just . . . who knows? He never responded to Kid Manager's e-mail about the meeting.

Six weeks might not sound critical, but the problem is the publication date. With the original schedule, the book would have been published July 1, which is good positioning to sell to colleges for the fall semester (also the biggest time for sales). Making that July 1 pub date now is doubtful. August 1 might be possible, but not if these authors continue turning everything in late. Of course, their dragging their feet puts more pressure on me to turn work around way faster than normal to try to make up for lost time. Thanks! Love you authors, too!


How much does an intercom system cost? Through some freakish combination of architecture and sound waves, you can't hear a thing from downstairs when you're upstairs in my house, unless you're standing next to a heating vent. A Shriner parade complete with tiny motorcycles and a high school marching band could tromp through the downstairs, and I'd never know it if I were upstairs. I'm usually downstairs, but Kevin and Daniel are often upstairs, Daniel in his room and Kevin in the art room. So when they get a phone call or I need them for something, I have to yell up the stairs for them because I'm not going to hike up and down that damn spiral staircase 40 times a day (although I'd have thighs of steel if I did). I've about had it with yelling, waiting, bellowing louder, waiting some more, and repeating ad nauseum. (On the plus side, if anyone holds a Ma Kettle contest, I'm a shoe-in to win.) I can't afford to install a professional intercom, but surely Radio Shack has a fairly inexpensive gadget? I need to look into that before my vocal cords give out.


I just checked movie listings for the theater we usually go to in Indianapolis and noticed that matinee prices are good only until 4:00. Don't most theaters offer matinee prices until 6:00, or has that changed? Money-grubbing bastards. Of course, both movies I want to see start at 4:05. Hmmmph! See if I feel guilty for sneaking my own snacks in.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Bad cats and authors

I took a day off from updating to let poor Sasha acclimate; I understand that at her age, getting used to change is much more difficult (ahem). I don't know what got me in the mood for updating more regularly. Partly it's because work has been slower the past few months, so I actually have time to sit here in the mornings with my coffee and think about what to write. The bigger reason is, I think, that time seems to be slipping by faster and faster--sometimes careening out of control--and writing an entry is a way to grab time and force it to slow down a little. Also, if all the crossword and logic puzzles I do to ward off The Alzheimer's don't work, maybe I can print out and read old entries to remember the past.


Maybe you cat people can tell me what the hell has gotten into my cat Picard. I have a houseful of spoiled or neurotic pets, but he's always been my good boy--sweet, laidback, undemanding. Several months ago, Kevin bought one of those water jugs for animals; you know, it looks like a miniature version of an office water cooler? He was tired of refilling the old water dish several times a day, and this water jug can last for a few days, even with four pets drinking from it. I knew Picard was fascinated by water; he loves to watch me run water in the bathtub, and sometimes he runs into the bathroom when he hears me brushing my teeth, hops into the tub, and looks at me expectantly, like I'm going to run a nice bubble bath for him.

Lately, however, he's gotten downright freakish about water--specifically the water in the water jug. When you fill the jug up and turn it upside down into the tray, the water bubbles loudly a few times until it settles down and starts flowing. Over the past few weeks, I'd heard some strange thumping noises occasionally and noticed the kitchen floor around the water jug was damp. I thought Holly was getting impatient with how fast the water came out and was nudging it with her nose, knocking some water out into the floor. The other night, I decide to catch her in the act, so when I heard the thumping, I ran into the kitchen--and saw Picard attacking the bubbling water jug! That damn cat is convinced an evil water creature is causing the bubbling, I think, and he's going to make damn sure he kills it. He glares at the jug for a minute, slinking up to it slowly, and then pounces, thwacking the jug with both front paws like Rocky Balboa working over a side of beef. He's whapped the jug so hard sometimes that he's knocked it over, and then all that water spills onto the floor. I hate to scold him every time he goes near the water jug because I don't want to make him afraid of drinking from it normally. I can't have a constant puddle of water on my kitchen floor, though. Any ideas?

Speaking of my very bad pets, I added a few pictures of them on Flickr. There's a link over there to the left; I'm not awake enough yet to link to them here. It's 6:30, people, and I've had only cup of coffee. Not fully functional yet.


I have a conference call this afternoon with Kid Manager and the authors of the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Late book (my apologies to Judith Viorst). I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to that! Kid Manager has been nagging the authors via e-mail all week, trying to get them to commit to a time this afternoon. They all live near Seattle, and finding a compromise between EST and PST hours isn't always easy. Finally, KM settled on 3 p.m. EST, but she still hadn't heard from one author as of yesterday. This guy is, in general, a pain in the ass. He won't return phone calls or respond to e-mails, he ignores instructions on submission criteria, and he turns in sloppy and incomplete work. He also writes the most cryptic e-mails I've ever read in my life. Half the time, I can't figure out what the hell he's talking about. In response to Kid Manager's notice of the meeting time and call-in number, he wrote the following:

by the time I get home from work it is usually after 7pm PST.... M-F

We just fired an investigator for a conflict of interest issue... I'll have to read the updates via email

OK, so I assume that means he can't make the meeting at noon his time, but why didn't he say so earlier this week?? And what does that investigator have to do with ANYTHING? Is attending this meeting a conflict of interest for him?? What updates is he going to read? Updates about the investigator? From whom?

Arrrrggghhhhh. Wish me luck, yes?

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Taco power: Resistance is futile

Daniel has a blog on a gaming site. I haven't asked to see it (partly because it's on a gaming site and, therefore, mostly about topics that make me yawn with excruciating boredom), but he left a Word document on my computer the other day that he'd copied to his blog. It cracked me up, so I'm including it here--unedited, which as you know, killed me--because I really don't think he'd mind:

"I enjoy the delicious taste of tacos. Why, you may ask? They combine the awesomeness of ground beef, the chesseiness of cheese, the dubious nutrutional value of a few strands of lettuce, the delicious spiciness of taco sauce combined with the coolness of sour cream, all wrapped in a crunchy (or soft) tortilla. Whether or not you like the taco, you must acknowledge that it is the supreme accomplishment of mankind, the culmination of all we've strived to create. Art, technology, literature, even video games, all must bow to the awesome POWER of the taco. Please feel free to post both pro and against comments regarding this, but know that you cannot deny the truth. All hail Taco."

The boy does love tacos, I can tell you that. He likes trying different salsas each time; last night, I think he used mango salsa, which he pronounced "interesting." I can't believe he's the same kid who used to have a list of five foods he deemed acceptable to eat. His tastes have definitely broadened. So take heart, parents of picky eaters: There's hope!

Kevin's been doing some writing lately, too. For his artist-in-residence gig, he had to outline the projects he plans to work on this year as well as a summary of his philosophy on art and its role in, uh . . . I don't know. Society? The community? Something like that. He jotted down several ideas in bullet form and asked me to take a look to see whether he was on the right track for his philosophy. I love him, but his spelling is nearly as creative as his art. Oy. Anyway, he had some interesting ideas about what art is, and he believes the notion of "fine art" stymies a lot of creativity. He's working on a theory of "everyday art" and getting ordinary people--that is, people who don't consider themselves artists or to have any talent or creative ability--to attempt artistic expression, particularly with nontraditional media. I suggested an idea that I think could be effective: a class combining school-age children with adults. Kids, up to a certain age, don't censor themselves as adults do. Ask them to draw a picture, and you'll rarely hear them say "But I can't draw!" Kids just assume they can. So including them in a class might inspire the adults to loosen up a little on their self-criticism.

The only "creative" endeavor I have planned for today is digging through junk in the closet and trying to find my Silver Screen edition of Trivial Pursuit. One of the Curv3s employees comes up with new trivia questions or scrambled words every month, and then prints them in big letters and tapes them to the floor in front of each aerobic station so that you have something to occupy your mind while you're jogging or doing jumping jacks or whatever. For me, it helps cut down on the boredom of exercising, too. I was talking to her the other day about what she's planned for this month, and she said she'd used a ton of questions from the original Trivial Pursuit game and needed a new source of questions. So if I can find my Silver Screen game, I'll bring those questions in for her, maybe as a tie-in with the Oscars? What month are the Academy Awards aired, anyway?

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Like my plum lipgloss?

It's only the second day of January, and already I have a repair guy in my house because something broke down. Arrrghhhhh. The igniter on my furnace cracked, and my ductwork needs to be cleaned out. (Hush.) I was just getting caught up on bills, too. Figures, right?

Who knows what the repair guy thinks of me. It was too cold in the house this morning to shower, so I have some wild-ass hair going on, and I'm dressed like a bag lady in layers and layers of clothes, but I HAVE LIPSTICK ON, by God. I am my mother's daughter, after all. The surgical nurses had to fight her to get her lipstick off the last time she had surgery. When the anesthesia wore off, the first words she croaked were "Jeff, find my lipstick and a mirror--and don't look at me until you do!" Bless her heart.

I'd better go down to the basement and hover helpfully while the repair guy sucks out 40 pounds of dust and pet hair from the furnace ducts. I'm sure he couldn't do his job unless I were peering over his shoulder and making lame attempts at furnace humor. On the other hand, see no showering above. Perhaps staying upstairs would be kinder.

Monday, January 1, 2007

You don't buy wine because the name amuses you?

I was going to make resolutions for the new year, but you know, I'm not so good at sticking to them. And then there's the matter of being realistic: Saying I'm going to be more organized or follow a budget, for example, does little but prompt wild guffaws and derisive snickers from people who know me. Hmmmph! So I decided instead to vow I'm going to continue doing two things I started last year:

  • Making better food choices
  • Exercising--and maybe adding other kinds of activity on alternate days (yoga, possibly?)

I'd like to work on several personal qualities--being more patient with my family, for example--but I have to be around to do them, and I won't be if I don't keep eating better and exercising. So those two things have to come first, right?


Kevin got home last night in record time after the store closed at 10:00. Usually, he gets home 30-45 minutes later because of shooing last-minute customers out, cleaning up the photo booth and developing machines, and so forth. The store was practically dead after 8:00, however, so he was home by 10:15. We had a wonderful bed picnic, with lots of fruit and cheese, some delicious French bread, and this wine I picked up at Trader Joe's a couple of months ago. For an inexpensive wine, it wasn't bad. Charlie sampled some cheese and a grape, and then fell asleep, exhausted by his wild partying.

We watched the countdown on the Fox channel, but then switched over to Dick Clark right after midnight. He wasn't as pathetic as I'd feared and sounded much better than he did at the Emmy awards last year. Still, it's bizarre to see him looking old. He was ageless for as long as I can remember.

I have to go throw a pork roast in the oven. It's already marinated in a citrus-ginger combination, and I'm making sweet potato biscuits later. Hmmm, I need a veggie. Maybe green beans? I'd better go see what I have. Kevin's already made one trip to the grocery store today for me, and I think he'd balk at making another one. Heh.