We're trying to sell a household trash compactor that came with our place, and I finally got a call from my Craigslist ad today. Since the compactor was buried at the back of the breakfast nook, behind several houseplants, six bins of recycling, and a stack of moving boxes, I came home on my lunch break to excavate it. Everything was going well, until I set a milk crate on top of the shelving unit, turned to push a plant out of the way, forgot about the crate, and tried to put my forehead in the same space it was occupying. Ouch. That's what...about a five second retention? Jesus. Luckily, the big red mark faded by the time I got back for my afternoon meeting, but the spot still hurts when I touch it.
Of course, smashing my own head into a milk crate that I placed on a shelf only moments before pales in comparison to what I did last Thursday. I had to park the CR-V on the street out front since the electricians were coming to rewire the garage and carport, which would've been fine...except for the ice storm. By the time the electricians finished and took off, my car was covered with a coat of ice. I scraped chipped a hole over the windshield and on the driver's side of the back window, and then set off to pull the car around into the garage. Apparently it didn't occur to me to scrape the side windows so I could actually see around the corners as I went around the block. I suppose I could've pulled over and got out to scrape some more, but I felt like that would be really embarrassing. I got the window to roll down so I could see out, and was only marginally being splattered with still-falling freezing rain, so it didn't seem like such a big deal.
The remote for the garage door opener mysteriously vanished between the day of the inspection and the day we moved in, and no one who was in the house in the interim admits any knowledge of what happened to it. Thus, to open the garage, I have to get out of the car, walk around to the garage's side door, stick my arm in and hit the button, then walk back to the car and pull in. When I pulled up and got out, the rain was starting to come in through my open side window, so I rolled it back up to keep my seat dry while I trotted off to open the garage. When I got back, I needed the window down again so I could back out and correct my angle. This time when I rolled down the window, the ice sheet did not go with it. It's hard to express in words how quickly the following events transpired. Basically, in maybe one or two seconds, I went from "What the hell?" to "Ooh, the ice window stayed up! That's kind of wicked!" to "AIIEEE!" as the glittery ice window collapsed inward and shattered into pieces on my face.
During my junior and senior years in high school, I spent nearly every Friday and Saturday night going out to see local bands play. There were three or four that we'd see just about anywhere they played, even a three-stoplight town in BFE called Bridgeport, Illinois that was more than an hour away from home. This was long before MySpace, so shows were advertised by word of mouth and with fliers. Even though I took piano lessons from age 7 on, I think my bone-deep love of music really got started at those shows.
By the time my freshman year in college was underway, all of the main bands had split up. We went to a few shows here and there, but it never was the same. That perfect confluence of music, company, and atmosphere was gone, and we knew even then that we'd never really find it again. I have mourned it at times, even though I've never been one to moon over the good old days or to live life as if high school was the apex of my social existence.
I ran into the guitarist from one of those bands tonight at Starbucks, where he took my order and then squinted at my face and said, "Do I know you from somewhere?" I told him the name of his old band, and that I used to go to all the shows. We chatted about people from the old days. His drummer moved to Nashville three years ago. The bass player toured with a nationally-known band as a merchandiser. The manager now runs his own marketing firm. The singer married the lead singer of another local band, had a baby, and moved to one of the Carolinas. We talked about how we just can't go to shows anymore. We're too old, the kids are too young, and the music just isn't that good.
Driving home, it hit me how horrified the girl I was would be if she saw the grown-ass woman I am now. My uniform is jeans and long-sleeved T-shirts instead of skater pants, tank tops, and little bitty tees. I work 40 hours a week on salary, spend a lot of time behind a desk, and claim chai lattes and chocolate as vices instead of clove cigarettes and late, late nights. I'm a walking cliché with my SUV, big house, marriage, and aspirations of having two happy, well-adjusted kids. What would she see, if she met me now? A sellout, maybe. A conformist. But I see her, and I know she's a part of me, and she always will be. I can still listen to music through her ears, feel the love of it in the marrow of my bones. Those days of shows and knowing all the bands and being part of a scene were golden, but so is this, here, today.
>> When disassembling furniture, as when investigating a crime, always maintain the chain of custody. Always. Otherwise, your husband will turn to you two days later and say, "Where did you put those screws that I took out of the bed?" and you will have no recourse but to stare at him and hiss, "You never told me I was in charge of them!" And then you will be sent back to the apartment to fruitlessly comb four rooms piled with boxes and random detritus, searching for a small sandwich baggie of screws. And then, regaining your common sense, you will drive to Rural King and buy 20 screws in each of three sizes, just so you won't be asked to go look for a tiny baggie of lost screws again.
>> When you spend a long evening Rug Doctoring your carpets, dump the dirty water down the toilet, not the bathtub. When you forget and dump it down the bathtub instead, make sure you check the drain plug handle at least twice before bitching that the tub is clogged and pouring two bottles of Drano into it. If you only check it once, your husband will investigate later and find that the drain is just closed, not clogged. And you will hear about it. At length. And you will deserve it, honestly.
>> When you pack for the move, make sure you keep track of the boxes with your clothes inside. If you don't, you will find yourself at the new house, in possession of one pair of jeans, two pairs of socks, the (sweaty) shirt on your back, and a hoodie, while your husband has already located and put away all of his clothes. You will later find your clothes at the back and on the bottom of a giant mountain of boxes, in the dining room. Sucker.
>> When you have electricians scheduled to come and fix your house's weird grounding and fuse box issues, make sure you put the cat in the office before the big scary strangers arrive. Otherwise, you will be dragging his small, boneless, terror-flattened form out from behind three large houseplants and a stack of boxes, and he will cling to you pathetically, and you will feel like an asshole.
>> When you pack up your kitchen, you will find six-year-old cake mixes and boxes of instant Jell-O, and you will be suitably horrified. You also will find lotion you bought while at the job you quit in 2001.
>> People will take just about anything if it's free, and freecycle is your friend when trying to get rid of four years' worth of clutter. Also your friend? Goodwill.
>> If you are a large, clumsy cat, do not assume that just because your head fits through the stair rail, your body will also fit. If you do, you may find yourself blocked in mid-air by your linebacker-like shoulders hitting the banister posts, and you'll probably rebound off that box you used as a springboard and land in a heap on the floor. And the humans who know and love you will tell the story to EVERYONE. Stairs, 1. Kitters, 0.
We're in our new house, and our internet has been hooked up. Hooray! I'm feeling a little too brain-fried to come up with anything awesome and witty, but here's a link to my house-related Flickr photos. I'm attempting to keep a mini photo blog over there, so check it out if you're interested.
I hope to be back with actual content tomorrow. I have missed you guys!
When we set our closing date back in January, February 15th seemed like it was ages away. And then, all of a sudden, we woke up and it was today.
We'll be heading for the bank at 1:00 this afternoon, and provided everything goes as planned, will be over at the new house cleaning and waiting for the fridge to be delivered by 3:00 or so. Tomorrow, MB's aunt and uncle, BoMB, and my dad are joining us for an entire day of furniture moving and gutter cleaning and other shenanigans.
We won't be getting our internet hooked up at the new place until Tuesday, so I may be in the wind for a few days. Catch everyone on the flipside. I have to go run around in circles with my arms in the air now.
We had snow followed by freezing rain on Tuesday, with more ice and then a little more snow last night. I walked across the grounds at work today, and all the grass was covered with several inches of snow, all overlain by a thick cap of ice. In places where the blades of grass were tall enough, the protruding tips were rimed with coats of clear ice. As I walked over it, the entire ice layer creaked and groaned. It sounded almost exactly like an unsteady wood floor, and it was unbelievably eerie.
1. After consolidating and sorting four years' worth of office supply stashes, it has become clear that we won't have to buy pens again, ever.
2. Given the chance, the cat will sleep under the bed in the spare room for six hours. He didn't judge me for staying in my pajamas all day, so I figure I shouldn't judge him for being a fat fuzzy sleepmonster.
3. We truly have a metric assload of stuff, and a lot of it is absurd. I found an unopened bank statement from five years ago. The thing is almost old enough to start Kindergarten.
4. I have the most kickass husband in the history of the world. After he got home from work, he spent half an hour chipping an honest-to-God quarter-inch thick coating of ice off of my car, so that I wouldn't have to do it tomorrow morning before work. I didn't ask him to, he just did it. I wish I had a picture of the giant plate of ice he brought to the door to show me.
5. It's a very bad idea to put a pillar candle in a slightly tapered candle chimney and then let it burn down into a wickless puddle in the bottom. If you do this, two years later you may find yourself using a bread knife to hack the wax puddle into chunks after chilling it in the freezer all morning. This will take for-fucking-ever, and will thoroughly coat your hand in soot up to the wrist.
6. Also, hanging out in a cold, dry apartment all day will make the skin on your knuckles really susceptible to cracking and looking sort of old-ladyish.
7. But that's kind of okay, because when you smack your hand into the side of the candle holder, you'll end up looking sort of like a badass streetfighter.
It's no secret that I love music. Occasionally, a song will hit me just right--musically and especially lyrically--and get its hooks into me, to the point where I can listen to it over and over and not get tired of it. I finally tracked down a share-able version of one of my very favorite songs of all time, and found a serviceable clip of my newest over-and-over song. I think both of them are beautiful, soulful songs, and they share a certain haunting quality that I think helped them stick in my bones.
"Rake," Townes Van Zandt
I used to wake and run with the moon I lived like a rake and a young man I covered my lovers with flowers and wounds my laughter the devil would frighten The sun she would come and beat me back down but every cruel day had its nightfall I'd welcome the stars with wine and guitars full of fire and forgetful
My body was sharp, the dark air clean and outrage my joyful companion whispering women how sweet did they seem kneeling for me to command them And time was like water but I was the sea I'd never have noticed it passing except for the turning of night into day and the turning of day into cursing
You look at me now, and don't think I don't know what all your eyes are a-saying Does he want us to believe these ravings and lies? They're just tricks that his brains been a-playing A lover of women? He can't hardly stand he trembles, he's bent, and he's broken I've fallen, it's true, but I say unto you hold your tongues until after I've spoken
I was taking my pride in the pleasures I'd known I laughed and thought I'd be forgiven but my laughter turned 'round, eyes blazing and said my friend, we're holding a wedding I buried my face but it spoke once again the night to the day we're a binding and now the dark air is like fire on my skin and even the moonlight is blinding
"Crane Wife 1 & 2," the Decemberists
It was a cold night and the snow lay 'round I pulled my coat tight against the falling down And the sun was all The sun was all down
I am a poor man, I haven't wealth nor fame I have my two hands and a house to my name And the winter's so The winter's so long
But all the stars were crashing 'round As I laid eyes on what I'd found
It was a white crane, it was a helpless thing On a red stain with an arrow in its wing And it called and cried It called and cried so
But all the stars were crashing 'round As I laid eyes on what I'd found My crane wife, my crane wife
And how I helped her and how I dressed her wounds And how I held her beneath the rising moon 'Til she stood to fly She stood to fly away
My crane wife, my crane wife
But all the stars were crashing 'round As I laid eyes on what I'd found My crane wife, my crane wife
My crane wife Arrived at my door in the moonlight All star-bright and tongue-tied I took her in
We were married And bells rang sweet for our wedding And our bedding was ready When we fell in
Sound the keening bell And see it's painted red Soft as fontanel The feathers in the thread When all I ever meant to do was to keep you My crane wife
We were poorly Our fortunes fading hourly And how she vowed me She could bring it back
But I was greedy I was vain and I forced her to weaving On a cold loom in a closed room With down wove
Sound the keening bell And see it's painted red Soft as fontanel The feathers in the thread When all I ever meant to do was to keep you My crane wife
There's a bend in the wind and it rakes at my heart There is blood in the thread and it rakes at my heart Rakes at my heart
MB and I recently enrolled ourselves in a life insurance policy, and the company had a call-center chick call me to verify some of my information.
call-center chick: Are you currently being prescribed any medication other than cold medication, allergy medication, or birth control?
vbg: Yes, I take Concerta.
ccc: And what do you take that for?
ccc: What symptoms does that medication treat?
ccc: How long have you had this condition?
ccc: When were you formally diagnosed?
vbg: At age twelve.
ccc: Have you ever been hospitalized for this condition?
vbg: For my hyperactivity? Yes. Yes, I have. (Okay, I didn't say that. But I wanted to.)
I just hope I don't have to spend hours explaining to my insurance company that ADHD is not really a life-threatening condition. Or even really a health condition. My mother used to have protracted battles with my dad's employee insurance representative over whether or not I was "too old" to be medicated for my ADHD, every single year. She still has to send them a letter every year from the doctor explaining that yes, my sister is still being treated for ADD, we promise.
In other, less eyeroll-inducing news, we finally got the snow we were promised almost two weeks ago, so I get the day off tomorrow. Yay! Of course, that probably means I should follow through on all that bargaining I did with the Universe earlier and spend all my newfound free time packing up the apartment. For now, though, I'm going to enjoy sharing the loveseat with the heat-seeking and therefore abnormally snuggly Kitters, and watch three back-to-back episodes of Naked Science on the National Geographic Channel. Because I'm a nerd, and that's how I roll.
Today's cluster of events went off without a hitch. It was a very good day, just by not being a bad day. After I got finished with work, MB and I went to eat Chinese New Year dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. He ate there last night, with BoMB and R, so all the waiters and the owner kept teasing us about being back so soon. "Last night was boys' night," the owner's wife said. "Tonight is honeys' night." We ate corn soup and Szechwan dumplings, green beans wrapped in tortilla-like pancakes and spicy chicken. We drank hot jasmine tea and finished dinner by toasting with tiny glasses of plum wine that turned my cheeks bright pink and made me feel self-conscious. After dinner, we went to pick out a fridge for our new house, and popped in at the craft store so I could buy beads for a project.
When we got home, we lazed around on the couch while he drank wine and watched movies on TV and I ate Phish Food and read blog entries. Now, I'm in bed with my laptop, listening to a Decemberists CD and doing bloggy things. MB is on one side of me and Kitters is on the other, and they're both snoring, just a little. My left elbow is digging into MB's back a bit, and the cat's bony foot is digging into my right elbow a bit. We are an odd little parenthetical, a strange but mostly happy little family of snorers and navel-gazers. I know that no one cares what I had for lunch, but I feel like it's a good idea to remind myself every once in a while that my life? It rocks. Even when it's sort of boring, it's also pretty rad.
It's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much; my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain, and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. (American Beauty)
In the small village of Pomaire, Chile, it is believed that chanchitos, little pigs, bring good luck. Three legged chanchitos are especially fortunate and are traditionally given to friends as a token of good will and love.
MB has to be at work at 6:30 AM and I don't have to be at work until 8:00. I get up when he gets up, and once he leaves I am sometimes very industrious and do useful things like putting away the clean dishes or getting a load of laundry done. Sometimes I eat toast and knock some entries off my blogroll. And lots of times, I burrow into the loveseat and surrender to an extra hour of sweet, sweet sleep. On weekdays when I'm off work (like today, for example), I can grab several hours of sweet, sweet sleep. Oh, the decadence of my life. I'm a pretty prolific dreamer, and my dreams seem to be especially vivid and odd any time I get up for a little while and then go back to sleep. My dreams are weird, wild, a lot like action movies, and always in full sound and color. There's usually not much connection to anything going on in my waking life, and no recurring themes.
Except for the last week or so? I have been constantly dreaming about being pregnant. And not just peed on a stick pregnant, but big tummy, nursery-fixing, almost time to think about due dates pregnant. Before anybody freaks out, there is pretty much no chance short of divine intervention that I am actually with child. Not to be crude, but when it comes to birth control, MB and I believe in redundancy. I'm confident we can rule out Dream as Premonition. It's no secret to anyone who's been reading this blog for a while that MB and I want kids someday, but I don't find my days plagued by the ticking of my biological clock. So far my Logical Clock has been able to beat that bitch into submission but good. Thus we can rule out Dream as Expression of Subconscious Desires.
And yet, this morning, I once again found myself sharing my dream with a big ol' baby belly. In this one, I had to go to the hospital to find out why I was bleeding, and it was all very dramatic, but then the doctor told me I was bleeding because I was eating too many Tums. What the hell, subconscious? I've been told more than once that pregnancy in a dream symbolizes change, and I suppose that is a pretty good explanation, considering the big huge giant change we're about to undergo. I guess I'll just have to hope that my subconscious quits freaking out before I get to the point where I have to dream about going into labor.
Target's reusable shopping bag, originally developed to comply with new laws in California, is gradually making its way across the country. The reusable shopping bags have just begun to appear in Target stores on the East Coast.
The bags, in typical Target fashion, are a step up from similar offerings by competitors like Wal-Mart. The bags are made from recycled polypropylene fabric and are traditional Target red in color. Available in two sizes, the bags self-zip into a small pouch for convenient storage. Selling for $1.49 for the larger size and $.99 for the smaller bag, the new bags offer Target shoppers an eco-friendly way to reduce the use of disposable plastic bags.*
And yes, obviously, it would be best if I only shopped at sustainable co-ops and bought handmade clothes constructed from homespun organically raised wool and hemp and blahdeblah, but realistically, that is never going to happen. I figure if I can make going to my favorite store a little greener, that's definitely a good thing. According to a March 2007 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, 4 trillion to 5 trillion non-biodegradable plastic bags are used worldwide annually. The article also estimates that it takes 430,000 gallons of oil to produce 100 million bags (source: S.F. Department of the Environment; Worldwatch Institute). Yowza.
I'm a firm believer in the idea that every little bit helps, so every plastic bag I don't need is one less bag to try to recycle (because of course I recycle them...or, I admit, use them for cat poo scoopage). Now, I've had people try to dismiss my "every little bit helps" opinion because "not everyone will do their part, so why bother at all?" To me, to even pose the question smacks of a cynicism I just can't embrace. At this stage in the game, the environmental movement is based as much on hope as on activism--hope that we'll change our ways, hope that everyone will do his or her part, hope that it's not too late.
I inherited the post of Recycling Goddess at work when the original Recycling Goddess moved away, so I took over the job of collecting and carting off recycled paper. Someone else already collects aluminum cans and takes them to sell for scrap, so that's easy. When I assumed the post, I added a bin for plastic bottles, and my coworkers fill a 13-gallon trash bag every other week. In just a few months, it's become clear that we are keeping a lot of stuff out of the landfill. Every little bit really does help, and now I can do a little bit more and rock a kickass, cute bag at the same time. Well played, Target. Well played indeed.
Things at work tend to cluster. I'll putter along happily with an easily-manageable taskload for months, and then suddenly things will sneak up and elbow-drop me. It always works out, and I tend to thrive under pressure, but the elbow-drop itself is usually a bit unpleasant at first. This Saturday is shaping up to be an elbow-droppy kind of day. I have three presentations to do, two workshops to facilitate, and six volunteers are coming in for a mass training / program.
In the late afternoon today, I fielded a call from a sweet but hapless Scout leader who wanted to set up a presentation for her kids for this Saturday. I hope I wasn't too blunt when I said, "Uh, no." Right after I got her squared away with the presentation she wanted on a day that wasn't hinty degrees overbooked, my beloved Danger called and said she had something for me, and did I want to come down and get it? Well, of course.
The saintly (but still severely badass) Danger had brought me a bag of mini Reese's cups. Oh, heaven. We chatted for a bit, and I told her and one of my coworkers about my ridiculously busy Saturday. Not a minute after I finished, my boss (who is truly, truly lovely but blessed with unfortunate timing), came through and told me that he'd just called another volunteer and asked him to come in and practice in the presentation room. On Saturday.
I usually try not to get too political here on the blog, but for "Super Tuesday," I figured I'd make an exception. Unfortunately, I live in a state with a very, very late primary, so by the time I get to cast my vote, things will probably already be decided. I'll be watching the polls tomorrow with nervous anticipation, but also with hope.
Whichever way you swing, no matter how bad the weather is tomorrow, if you're lucky enough to get a chance, exercise your right to vote. I'll be the one over here, cheering for Obama.
If you're having trouble getting my feed to show up properly, you may need to unsubscribe and resubscribe using just my URL. It was acting up the other night and so we futzed with it, and I think it's fixed, but you'll have to let me know. Sorry about that :P
Is it just me, or were the Superbowl ads a pretty big letdown this year? (Let's not talk about the game.) I did enjoy the Bridgestone screaming animals one, and the Clydesdale training to the Rocky music, but I can't recall any other really good ones.
For something fun, go to Google, type in "find Chuck Norris" and hit the I'm Feeling Lucky button.
Oh. My. God. We have SO MUCH CRAP, you guys. SO MUCH. I spent most of the day sorting and boxing up stuff, and didn't even get two bookcases fully cleared. I tossed pile after pile of papers and notebooks, and only ended up with two grocery sacks filled for recycling. Also? I wrote lots of bad poetry when I was a teenager. Lots. VERY BAD. I haven't seen the cat in like three hours. I hope I didn't box him up by mistake.
I found a small treasury of things I printed out back when everybody and their cousin sent dozens of email forwards every day and you had to keep them in your inbox, since nobody had heard of Google yet. One of them was the fabulous 231 Things I Would Do If I Were an Evil Overlord. I'm so pleased at not having to type it all out, though I promise I would've done it, for you.
>> My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear Plexiglas visors, not face-concealing ones.
>> One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.
>> All slain enemies will be cremated, or at least have several rounds of ammunition emptied into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.
>> All naive, busty tavern wenches in my realm will be replaced with surly, world-weary waitresses who will provide no unexpected reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick.
>> If the hero runs up to my roof, I will not run up after him and struggle with him in an attempt to push him over the edge. I will also not engage him at the edge of a cliff. (In the middle of a rope-bridge over a river of molten lava is not even worth considering.)
>> I will make the main entrance to my fortress standard-sized. While elaborate 60-foot high double-doors definitely impress the masses, they are hard to close quickly in an emergency.
>> If I'm sitting in my camp, hear a twig snap, start to investigate, then encounter a small woodland creature, I will send out some scouts anyway just to be on the safe side. (If they disappear into the foliage, I will not send out another patrol; I will break out the napalm.)
>> I will exchange the labels on my folder of top-secret plans and my folder of family recipes. Imagine the hero's surprise when he decodes the stolen plans and finds instructions for Grandma's Potato Salad.
>> All giant serpents acting as guardians in underground lakes will be fitted with sports goggles to prevent eye injuries.