Friday, October 31, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Newsletter: Year Three
You turned three years old this month. I meant to mark the day with a happy little post, but I was busier than I thought and now it's been more than a week since your birthday. This is exactly the kind of thing you're going to bring up in therapy in your mid-twenties, isn't it?
Don't worry, blog, I will not forsake you so easily. We've been on quite the journey, you and I, and I think it's safe to say you have become my most successful writing project. Through you I have found my voice and managed to not lose my writing chops altogether. I won't deny that I sometimes fret over my nearly complete failure to Make Something Of Myself as a writer, or regretfully moon over all the fiction I have not written since finishing my creative writing degree.
But through it all, you've been here for me, encouraging me and laying on the guilt when I slack off too much and -- most importantly -- reminding me not to take myself too seriously. So tonight I raise my glass to you, and wish you many happy returns. And next year I'll make more of an effort to get you that pony you asked for.
Reading: Nation by Terry Pratchett
Playing: the Iron Man soundtrack
Friday, October 24, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Bark once for yes, twice for no
I volunteered at the local Obama campaign office for about two hours after work today. I told them I didn't want to canvass or make phone calls, but that I'd be happy to do any kind of grunt work that no one else wanted to do. After all, it's often the little mindless stuff that takes up more time than you ever expect, and I figured if I could do some of that, it would free up time for someone more competent to do something really important. I ended up using a paper cutter to divide up handouts printed three to a sheet and managed to get through 600 of them.
I got complimented on my cutting skills by a super cute organizer who was totally my type -- tall, skinny, dark haired -- and impressively multilingual, effortlessly carrying on recruitment chats in English and Spanish. "You're a good cutter," he said, to which I replied, "I've got skillz."
"No, really," he said, "Trust me, there are good cutters and there are bad cutters, and you are definitely a good cutter." Cutting for change! Woo!
Best of all, though, was a conversation I overheard. One of the organizers came out of a side office. "You handled that conversation really well," a chick doing data entry near me said. "She went from saying she wasn't going to vote for Obama to saying she would if God told her to. That's progress...sort of." It gets better, though, because the name on the voter list was the lady's DOG. The organizers discussed what to do with the unregistered canine voter, and then the original caller said, "So I'm going to mark 'does not support' on this record? I'm actually going to advance this dog through the system?" I told him that his next call would probably be to a hamster.
Reading: Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron
Playing: the Iron Man soundtrack
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
It's been mostly work in velocibadgerland lately, but we've been able to squeeze in a little fun. Our camping trip was quite refreshing, and I'm hoping to write about it soon. We also made some time to do something fun with Indy tonight.
When we first brought Indy home, I told myself we wouldn't buy into the whole dog clothing phenomenon. Unless we were out somewhere and it was just brutally cold, MB and I agreed, Indy didn't need clothes. But then I went to Target and they had these:
I felt like Indy would be able to rock the hell out of either one, so I bought both, and figured I'd return the one MB least preferred. I got both in large size, and neither one fit, so I took them back and ordered an XL hoodie online. It came in the mail over the weekend, and lo, there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth, for it was also too small.
It wouldn't have been much of a big deal, but I had my heart set on taking Indy to the Petsmart "Howl-o-Ween" party tonight, and going without a costume felt like a big fat cop-out. Last night I took the XL hoodie back to Target, hoping that the XXL one I'd rejected nearly a month ago as surely being too big would still be there. It wasn't, and I felt pretty stupid both for not just buying it in the first place and for being sad about possibly missing out on a freaking Halloween party FOR DOGS.
Anyway, as I moped around Target I came up with another idea, and so Indy went to his party dressed as -- who else? -- Indiana Jones:
He ended up winning a tennis ball in a "cutest trick" contest and scoring a frisbee for tying a "longest down-stay" contest. Even though there was a clear crowd bias toward itty bitty dogs, Indy made it into the semifinal round of the costume contest. We didn't make it to the finals, but we got to cheer on Macduff and Tiges, who scored third place, and Indy got a second frisbee as a runner-up prize. We ended up giving the spare frisbee to Amelia here, because even though the crowd didn't seem to get her 80s Prom Queen outfit, we thought it was hilarious:
Happy Howl-o-Ween, everyone!
Reading: Brisingr by Christopher Paolini
Playing: Only_By_The_Night by Kings of Leon
Friday, October 17, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
MB works late at a part-time teaching thing on Fridays, so the pooch and I hang out. Since the house had fallen into a sad, sad disarray over the last month or so of work and general life craziness, I decided to surprise MB by using my Friday night at home to clean. I swept up a disturbing pile of pet hair and Swiffered the whole main floor of the house (incidentally, the Swiffer is just about my favorite housecleaning item of all time), washed all the dishes, sorted two weeks' buildup of mail, and de-cluttered the dining room. Yay!
I don't have too much to say about the dog right at this moment, since he just chewed my Beware of Cat doormat -- which was a housewarming gift from my officemates -- into five pieces. But I will be mature and go ahead and say what I planned to, which is that I'm proud to report that he has mastered our version of the doorbell.
Shortly after Indy moved in, I hung a big bell on the doorknob of the back door. Every time we let him out we'd ring the bell, with the hope that he'd eventually catch on and start ringing the bell himself when he wanted to go out. He definitely caught on, and now any time he wants to go outside, he rings his bell and waits patiently for one of us to appear. It's really freaking cute, even though sometimes he gets bored and tries to go in and out and in and out. Now if we could only rig up a bell for the outside, so that he'd stop scratching the screen on the storm door to bits when he wants to come back inside...
Friday, October 10, 2008
Two friends have contacted me in the last 24 hours to make sure I'm not dead. I appreciate them checking up on me, though I feel a bit sheepish about the whole thing. I certainly didn't mean to go silent for a week without warning.
I think these past two weeks have been the busiest in the history of my job. I had a workshop last Saturday as well as a huge event Saturday and Sunday that I had to throw together on ridiculously short notice. I have another workshop tomorrow night, so I've just been moving from one fire to the next.
Usually by the time I get home -- if I don't have work that I've brought home with me to complete -- I'm just mentally done for the day. I'll sit down with the computer and attempt to come up with something worth writing, and then give up. In other words, I'm old and boring lately.
MB has also been really busy for the past two weeks, so I've been taking on a few more Indy duties than usual. We've had the most amazing, perfect Fall weather so far, so taking the dog for extra walks is hardly a burden. I've been reading a lot, and I started a new knitting project, meaning even less time to blog.
The economic semi-apocalypse isn't helping much, either. I'm trying not to read too many news reports, lest I start Chicken Littling all over the place. We don't have investments, other than MB's 401k. Frankly, it's a bit of a relief right now to not be from money. We don't have portfolios, our parents don't have them, most of our friends don't either. Of course, damage to the economy in general is worrying, especially because of the kind of work MB does. I have to not think about it too much or I start to feel sick and panicked. But of course, it's all over the news, it's all over the Internet, it comes up in conversation constantly.
I guess this a roundabout way of saying thanks for reading and that I'll try to get back into a good posting schedule soon!
Saturday, October 04, 2008
I wish I had a prize for everyone who played the mystery photo game, but alas...I had to pick just a few.
The lucky winners are the apathetic one, who scored a lovely deck of Alaska playing cards; Danger, who got an Alaska ball cap in Rangeman black; That Chick, who wanted the tacky Alaska magnet; and the Untamed Shrew, who gets an Alaska pen that writes in four colors.
Thanks again to everyone! I might have to do this one again sometime.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
5000 miles to Moscow
So, the Anchorage trip. It almost started with a big disaster. On Friday the 12th, three days before we were scheduled to leave, I realized I only had a printout of my itinerary, and not my mom's. I'd bought her ticket using my credit card, so I should've received her itinerary in my work email. I called the travel agent that my workplace always uses, and found out that not only did he have the wrong email address on file for me, but our flight had been canceled and we'd been rebooked on a different flight that left three hours earlier. If I hadn't called on a bit of a panicky whim, Mom, my officemate, my officemate's girlfriend, and I would've missed our flight completely. Aiee! New itineraries finally in hand, we returned to our previously scheduled routine of avoiding packing and happily anticipating.
On Monday the 15th, we departed at 2 PM, and arrived in Anchorage (via Chicago) at 2:40 AM, or 11:40 PM Anchorage time. OMFG it was a long flight. We grabbed our luggage, hailed a cab, went straight to the hotel, and went to bed. (And let me just say...the towels may have been disappointingly scratchy at that hotel, but the beds were POSH. I wanted to steal the down comforter off my bed, I loved it so much.)
Since nobody had bothered to forward a meeting itinerary to me or to my officemate, we really had no idea what time we were supposed to meet the rest of our conference peeps the next day. Mom and I went down to the lobby at 8:00 the next morning, and by a stroke of luck ran into two guys I'd met at a previous conference. They informed us that everyone was meeting up at the Snow City Cafe for breakfast, so we got a downtown map from the bellman and moseyed over. And by the way, Downtown Anchorage is a fine example of the way cities should be laid out, with North / South streets assigned letters and East / West streets given numbers. It made navigating easy even for someone as directionally challenged as me.
The Snow City Cafe is a fabulous hippie-ish place, with the Best Pancakes Ever. Mom and I ended up eating there four days out of five, and if you ever find yourself in Anchorage, we can heartily recommend the plain pancakes, blueberry pancakes, and the fruit & yogurt parfait. I'm drooling a little now, thinking about it.
Everybody and their cousin made jokes about me egging Sarah Palin's house before I left (which I would never do, so if the government is reading this, I totally didn't do it), and several people seemed interested in knowing what the political climate was up in Anchorage. It really seemed pretty normal, or at least as balanced as my home (very Red) state. There were several shops with pro-Palin gear, but I also saw at least one with an Obama sticker displayed in the window.
When I pictured Anchorage before visiting, I always imagined generic Alaska-y scenes, like mountains and pine trees, or sparse alpine meadows. I didn't expect lush flowers everywhere:
The growing season is very short in Alaska, but during the summer the days are so long and there's so much rain that the plants just go nuts.
They apparently had a really short, wet, gray Summer this year, and the leaves were just starting to change when we arrived. Usually the leaves have changed and fallen by mid-September, so I felt like we were stealing an extra week of Fall, my favorite season. Vacation with bonus!
Next time, going to sea...