Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Road Not Taken

I've been seeing a lot of interesting Google search queries in my stats lately. It's one of my very favorite things about sitemeter, and I'm always really disappointed when there aren't any weird ones in the day's data.

Here are some of my favorites from this month:

jack burton kurt russell sheets of hot lead I have no idea what this means or why "sheets of hot lead" landed someone here, but MB loves Big Trouble in Little China, so I'll keep it on the list for his sake.

Klause the kickboxing instructor Uh...I got nothing.

how to suck an egg through a bottle If they mean "cause an egg to be sucked into a bottle," I can actually help. Otherwise, this sounds kind of borderline perverted.

living with an engineer HA! I could offer a few helpful pointers.

rhythm gymnastics pantyhose Whaa?

battery man that flips egg Note to self: patent battery-operated man-shaped egg-flipping device quickly. Someone has been spying!

apple maggot quarantine area signs I was perplexed by these in Washington State last fall, and it's sort of comforting to know that I wasn't the only one.

dear internet, please heap shit on Eragon for our amusement I can't even add to this. It's glorious on its own.

glad.i.don't.have.testicles I've had this one before, but without the emphatic extra punctuation. Incidentally, I'm also quite glad to not have testicles.

crappy glasses This isn't that exciting, except for the fact that I'm apparently the #1 Google hit for this search query.

Geology Shirts and the closely related geology onesie A big shout-out to the person who used the onesie query, because it led me to this:

boy-child nutrition vs girl -child nutrition Inexplicably, I'm the only hit for this one.

egg salad, best, taste of home Sometimes it just seems cruel to not have an egg salad recipe in the sidebar somewhere. I feel like such a tease.

AOL search: cocaine ring in Woodinville Hey, man...we were just there for the wine.

AOL search: 80's barbie style dolls with animal heads That sounds more like a meth-bug-type problem to me.

And, completely at random, here's a video of a cat defending its snack against the dog, apparently from some Germany's Funniest Home Videos type show:

Thanks mucho to evilducky, for sending me the animated gif version earlier today :D

Reading: Garbage land : on the secret trail of trash by Elizabeth Royte, Skulls and bones : a guide to the skeletal structures and behavior of North American mammals by Glenn Searfoss

Playing: Mehndi, an evilducky mix

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled

One of my responsibilities at work is supervising a volunteer program for middle and high school students. Most of the time, the kids keep me young, like the time we sat around at our roundtable discussion and spent half an hour talking about our favorite episodes of MythBusters and how cool it is when they blow stuff up. Other times, though, they make me feel very, very old.

I was in the lounge finishing my lunch this afternoon when two of my favorites showed up. Let's call them the Artist and the Vet, since one is very funky and artsy and the other loves animals. The Artist is the one who made me feel like I was in the fast lane to the land of dentures and Depends the first time we had lunch together, when she declared that her parents listen to "really old music" like "Hendrix and Dylan and Beck." You know, Beck, whose first album came out when I was in EIGHTH GRADE. Pass the prune juice and Fixodent.

Today, we started out talking about chocolate (always a safe topic), then the Vet asked the Artist and me what we're giving up for Lent. Somehow this segued into a conversation about one of the other volunteers, the Astronaut. It seems the Astronaut was down and out this week after his girlfriend broke up with him via MySpace. Dear Lord. I hope she at least had the decency to send him a private message. It would be too much to bear if the poor kid got the bad news in a comment, or through a sudden and unexpected change of relationship status on his girlfriend's profile.

When I was in high school, the worst you had to worry about was whether or not it was appropriate to break up with someone by note. Written on paper, with a pen. Which, you know, is more or less equivalent to chipping it out on a stone tablet and having it delivered by pteranodon. Or you could do it over the phone. Or by Morse Code. Smoke signals were somewhat popular as well.

I guess I am getting old, because I can look back at the ridiculous drama of high school relationships and laugh about how damn serious we all thought it was. The Artist said that the Astronaut was so upset that he made himself sick and had to miss school for most of the week. I know he had a cold, because he was supposed to volunteer yesterday, but his mom called and said the whole family was sick. I doubt it was the heartbreak, but I guess one never knows. The Artist told us that she had a dream on Monday night that the Astronaut had committed suicide, so when he didn't show up for school on Tuesday, she was freaking out.

For a few seconds, I wondered if we were ever that fraught. And then I had to admit that we were. We were very, very fraught at times. But at least we never had to worry about surfing over to our significant other's MySpace page and seeing that they'd changed their profile to "single." Compared to that, a message by pteranodon seems like a pretty gentle letdown. Anyway, I'm going to see if I can manage to get from here to the kitchen without breaking a hip. If you don't hear from me soon, call for help.

Reading: In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner

Playing: Farewell by Oingo Boingo

Their music is weird, but cool. The lead singer, Danny Elfman, has written several scores for Tim Burton movies and provided the singing voice of Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Jack's Lament:

I'm clever as can be and I'm very quick, but don't forget--we've only got so many tricks. No one lives forever!

Friday, February 23, 2007

True Friendship, Defined

True friendship is loving someone enough to go out to the mall and scour the clearance racks, then try on and purchase various long-line tank tops for her to layer under her work shirts, so that she can avoid the dreaded strip of exposed tummy / back skin that happens when your pants migrate south and your shirt heads north, while--most importantly--allowing her to avoid shopping, her one True Hate in the world. Luckily, I am the clearance champion, and I also do well when I have a mission to motivate me. Besides, Danger? She's a friend worth trying on clothes for...and that's saying something. She stopped by after work and tried on all the shirts, and all but two were good finds. Hooray! Next mission:  find a decent and flattering bridesmaid's dress for her by April. Something tells me I'm the right operative for the job. Danger, if you ever become a massage therapist for the stars, please consider me when choosing a personal stylist. I think I'd be up for the challenge. ;)

More Clearance Champion-ness (for the divine Miss M)

While I was out working on completing the mission of mercy yesterday, I hit the clearance racks at Kohl's again, for what will probably be the last time for a long time. I need to stop spending money on spawn clothes. The last hurrah:

Space jammies? SQUEE! MB wants to do a space-themed nursery when the time comes, so I pretty much had to get these. Size 3T, large white cat for scale.

Mental image of a small badgerchild toddling about in a hoodie bearing MB's favorite comic book character of all time? Priceless! Okay, not really. But worth $9.60. (ABSURD, since I won't pay that much for a shirt for myself.)

I also got two pairs of work pants for myself ($9.50 and $5.50) and two pairs of cute, cute corduroy cargo pants for $5.99 each.

In the clearance section at Hot Topic, I got this hilarious hat for R, because I knew he'd appreciate the hilarity (and he did):

I got this pretty wallet / pouch thing for my sister, and then promptly forgot all about it when I went to meet her for dinner two hours later:

And I found this somewhat sweet-ass shirt for ten bucks for MB, who's currently really into all things samurai:

(Except I'm an idiot and didn't realize until JUST NOW that the samurai has a guitar. Hmm...oops. That would explain why he wasn't as excited about it as I expected. I think I'll offer to return it, just in case. Damn.)

Reading: In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Recycled Child (100% Post-Consumer Content)

I'm going to try to stay rational through this one, because I don't want to spoil it by going off on any rants. It might be hard, but I'm going to do my best. I apologize in advance if I succumb to The Rage along the way. It's also going to be a pretty long one, so you might want to get some chips and a drink. It's okay...I'll wait.

The basic gist of this one has been tumbling around in my head for quite a while, but the time just never seemed right to write it. But earlier this week, my friend Tamsyn pointed me toward Clueless in Carolina, whose "About Me" includes the following: "I am adopted myself, and contrary to popular wisdom, love my parents very much and consider myself ridiculously lucky." I thought to myself, Yes! Fucking A, YES! Someone else who feels like I feel! Someone else who gets it!

I've mentioned it a few times, but not really made a big deal out of the fact that I am adopted. I was adopted in a closed adoption at 25 days old. Five and a half years later, my sister was adopted in a closed adoption at 2 months old. I've always wondered if I should write about it, but it always seemed like a weird topic for a blog entry. I don't really feel like I need to parade my adoptedness around. It's not like I deserve recognition or need special treatment. To me, adoption is how I joined my family. It's not really a big deal. Making a big fuss over it would, to me, feel like a non-adopted person expecting a pat on the back for being born. Besides, who would care about my adoption story, right? Well...seeing Clueless in Carolina's "About Me" made me realize that I do have some things to say on the subject after all.

The last time I visited her blog, her fantastic writing didn't even register (even though it should have), because I was following a link from A Little Pregnant. The original uproar was about breastfeeding and the fact that a speaker booked by the La Leche League [Tricia Smith Vaughan / Tricia Shore / "the Comic Mom" (She's really not very funny.)] had made some inflammatory remarks about breastfeeding, birth control, IVF, postpartum depression, and adoption. I don't really feel like linking to the article she wrote about adoption, because just looking at it makes me feel like my head's going to pop off and fly around biting people (See? The Rage.) If you're interested, you can find it by Googling her name and "No More Mommies?" I'm not really down with having it sitting around on my page, though.

The day I read it for the first time, I sat at my computer in disbelief, feeling my blood pressure going up, speechless with outrage. Few things incense me like the feeling that someone is presuming he/she can speak for me. TSV was adopted as a child, and from cursory reading of some other blogs about the uproar, it sounds like her biological mother was pressured into giving her up in the 1960s. I appreciate that she feels betrayed and that to her, adoption was an ugly thing. I emphatically do not appreciate her crusade against all adoption. How dare she condemn my parents, my family, my childhood, my goddamn fine upbringing (other than the swearing. Sorry, Mom), my sister's childhood (because, dude. Don't mess with my sister, or I'll mess with you right back.)? I emphatically resent her unwillingness to appreciate that I do not feel betrayed, that I do not feel that I am a part of an "artificial family," that I don't think my adoption was a sin in the eyes of God. I wish I was being hyperbolic, but I'm not. Here are some things she had to say about adoption (all underlining added for emphasis):

"Many Christians oppose the idea of two women or two men forming a supposed family by taking someone else's children or paying someone to incubate a child or being impregnated with some anonymous father's sperm. I don't know why the religious only seem concerned when this family tampering occurs with homosexuals. Why does anyone, religious or not, think that forming artificial families is acceptable?"

"Many adoption agencies allude to Moses as the first adoptee, creating the illusion that adoption itself has somehow been sanctioned by God." I'm sure TSV cleared this all up by chatting personally with the Big Man. Especially seeing how pissed off he was about Joseph raising a child that was not biologically his own...oh, wait...yeah, that's called ADOPTION. Good thing God's son didn't have to grow up in an unsanctioned artificial family! That sure would've fucked things up!

"Breastfeeding by a baby's true mother is so natural and helpful to the child that I can't help but wonder why babies are whisked away, often immediately after birth, and the mother is discarded like last month's magazines." I'm not going to get into the breastfeeding angle, because I don't have any authority there. I have to speculate, however, that the reason the babies are "whisked away" is because in situations where the birth mother has chosen to give her child up for adoption, it's less painful for her than making her nurse and bond with a child that she cannot or does not want to keep.

Also, I think it's condescending to minimize what must be an excruciating choice, and often a choice made out of love, by saying the birth mother is "discarded," as if she played no part in the process. Though I'm sure there are many exceptions, I do feel that there is something noble and ultimately deeply rooted in mother-love that motivates some birth mothers to give up their babies so that the babies might have a better chance at a good life. To take on what must be a deep hurt for the sake of a child they might not have wanted, but have taken steps to ensure will be cared for. My birth mother and my sister's birth mother were both 17 years old when we were born. I'm sure their choice was not an easy one. I'm also grateful to the depths of my soul that they made their choice.

"When Moses was an adult, he "went out to his people and looked on their burdens." (Exodus 2:11) Note that the people referred to here are the Hebrews, not the Egyptians who raised him. Imagine this scenario in today's adoption world, in which most states seal truthful birth records and falsify the birth certificates that we adoptees must use." I have no problems with the fact that my birth certificate states that I was born to my parents. In my family, adoption was treated as a perfectly normal way to join a family, just as normal as being born, so it just makes sense to me that my birth certificate should reflect that.

Once again, I appreciate that TSV's adoption was a negative experience, but do not lump me in with you by saying things like "we adoptees." You do not speak for me. You do not speak for my sister. There are hundreds, thousands, millions of us who like being adopted. Please do not denigrate that because you haven't experienced it. I don't condemn TSV for being upset about her adoption, not even for crusading against the kind of apparently forced or coerced adoption that her birth mother was pushed into. In return, I would like it very much if she would refrain from condemning my adoption.

"The truth is that while we have many people who may function in a parental role in our life, we all only have one set of true parents, one mommy and one daddy. Sometimes we are separated, physically, legally, emotionally, or a combination of these, from those parents. Parents, however people like to deny it, can never be replaced. Only when we realize that every child has only one mom and one dad will the idea of "two mommies" become the absurdity that it should be." Again, not touching the anti-gay rhetoric, because RAGE.

Pardon me, but I fundamentally object to the notion that someone is my "true" mommy because she got pregnant and I was the result. I possibly even more deeply object to the notion that someone is my "true" daddy because he got some girl pregnant. If the "true" daddy is an asshole and leaves the "true" mommy, is it right and "sanctioned by God" that the baby can never again have a father, a dad, that the baby can never be lovingly raised and supported by a good, caring man, because God only wanted that baby to have one dad, even if that dad was a horrible person, or just not a good fit with the mom? Fuck that sideways. I would never presume to know what is right for someone else's child. I would never presume to say that a child abandoned by his or her biological father (or mother) is just out of luck. I would never presume to pretend to know how God feels on the subject. (You know, God, who let that lousy false father Joseph pretend to raise his son.)

"Recycling children via adoption has not always been so popular: Prior to 1900, "the general trend . . . seemed to be to attempt to keep mother and child together" (Costigan 28). Even in the early twentieth century, "several states and municipalities passed laws attempting to prevent the separation of mothers and children, and requiring mothers to breastfeed their children for at least three months" (Costigan 30). With so many benefits, emotionally and physically, for the breastfeeding child, this arrangement still seems to be the one that is truly in the best interest of the child." Recycling children? Okay, that's so patently absurd that it's hilarious. I actually LOVE the idea that I'm recycled. It's fantastic! As for the rest of it, I can only address the assertion that legally requiring women who truly do not feel that they can handle motherhood to raise their babies is a good idea, or that legally mandating that women must breastfeed is positive by succumbing, briefly, to a rant:  FOR SERIOUS, IS SHE OFF HER FUCKING NUT? That about covers it, I think. Let's move on.

"Parents are created at natural conception and do not change throughout a child's life." Holy crap! I've been living with strangers my whole life!

"In our brave new society, we refuse to believe such permanence. Parents are interchangeable; children are recyclable. If God does not bless us with a child, we cheat. We covet and take someone else's eggs or their child or we sidestep God and go to a fertility doctor who can help us concoct the family we want, selecting for sex or other characteristics if we like. Children are no longer looked upon as a blessing, but as a right. If we are not blessed with any, we believe that we have every right to obtain one, by any means possible." Do you see how this is the last person I'd want to speak for me? Gah. Just, gah.

Now we're getting to the really juicy parts, the parts that made me tremble with anger the first time I read them:

"With stranger adoption, we take children from their natural families and place them with families that aren't their own, asking everyone to pretend that these children belong in those families. ... The next time you become angry at a couple who claims to be "two mommies," ask yourself how often you've capitulated to the rhetoric of this brave new world, how often you've called someone who's never given birth and passed along genes a mother, or how often you've looked at an Asian child with two people who are clearly not her parents and believed that they are family."

After going off on some bizarre tangent about how we'll soon be in a world where all babies are grown in artificial wombs and there are no mothers, she closes with this brilliant gem: "As we head toward this brave new world, let us not blame only homosexual activists for leading us away from true family. The people who approved of stranger adoption and who sat silently while fertility doctors performed their hocus pocus to create babies in a test tube are now reaping what has been sown. When mothers cease to exist, we will have only ourselves to blame."

Ho. Lee. Crap.

Again, let me reiterate that I respect TSV's right to object to forced adoptions, to hate her own adoption experience. However, I am somewhat infuriated over the thought that there's any chance someone might think she speaks for all adoptees, that she speaks for me.

(GOD, this entry is way too long...is anyone even going to read this far?)

I finally decided that it's time for me to speak for myself. I can't change the minds of people like TSV, but I can add my voice to the clamor. I can express how I feel so that there is no room for anyone to ever assume that I agree with the bitter, angry, anti-adoption rhetoric that seems to come up all too often when adult adoptees find a forum. I figure the seeming prevalence of anti-adoption stances over pro-adoption stances probably comes from the fact that people who are satisified with their lives have little reason to get all spun up and rant on the internet / in the media.

So, I'm spun up, and I've ranted on the internet. And here is my personal adoptee manifesto. I don't speak for anyone but myself. I don't assume that anyone feels the way I feel. I can only speak for myself, and I'm the only one who has a right to decide / express to the world how I feel.

I love my parents.

I love my sister.

We are a real family.

We are a good family.

My parents are not perfect people, and they're not perfect parents, but they truly have always been the best parents they knew how to be. Turns out they're among the best parents I know. I've never looked at my friends' parents and wished mine were more like theirs. My parents were and are great parents. If I could choose any parents in the world, I'd choose them in a heartbeat.

I do not for one second believe that God made them infertile because he didn't want them to have children. (I sometimes wonder if they were fated to be infertile because my sister and I were the chidren they were fated to have, and because they could only have us by adoption, but that's a whole 'nother ramble for another time, probably.)

I do not believe that they loved us any less because we were not their "true" children. I do not believe that I love my parents any less because I am not their "true" daughter. If I loved my (supposedly not "true") sister any more fiercely than I do, I would tear apart at the seams.

Do I think my parents ever wondered what it would've been like if they'd had biological children? Sure.

Do I ever wonder what my birth mother was like? Sure. What she's doing now? Sure. But I don't have any interest in tracking her down, or in having her track me down. More than anything, I hope she is at peace with her decision. I wish there was a way to be sure that she knows that her decision blessed me with a wonderful life, a wonderful family.

But that's it. I don't feel empty. I don't feel abandoned. I'm not angry. I'm not wistful. I'm not hiding a deep, abiding hurt with a veneer of sunshiney optimism. Believe it or not, I HAVE NO ANGST about being adopted. I am a blissfully happy adoptee. After all, I have always known, with complete certainty, who my true parents are, and that they truly wanted me and wanted my sister. They have been there with me, every step of the way. And I am so, so, so very lucky to be their true child.

(If anyone is still reading at this point, thanks. I truly, truly appreciate it.)

Just Finished: Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: the quirky history and lost art of diagramming sentences by Kitty Burns Florey

Reading: In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner

Playing: disc one of the Grateful Dead's Reckoning

Where Angels Fear to Tread

Our computer has been pitching hissies again lately about lack of hard drive space. Suck it up, princess! You've got nearly 650 MB of free space! What are you bitching about?

MB picked up some blank CDs today, so I thought I'd do a little archiving before I posted. Because I am paranoid, finicky, and somewhat anal-retentive, I always upload pictures to winkflash before I burn and delete them. Nearly two and a half hours later, I'm still slogging through old pictures, uploading them and deleting where I can.

Now that I'm nearly done, I really want to blog, but the alarm clock's going to go off in about 6 hours, and I'm going to be really mad at myself for staying up way too late if I don't give up soon.

As a peace offering for my lameness, I bring you an entry that nearly killed me today when I opened it at work and almost made my face implode from stifling my hysterical laughter: I fucking hate you, written by the cat of Dawn from Baleful Regards.

Reading: Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog:  the quirky history and lost art of diagramming sentences

Playing: Brushfire Fairytales by Jack Johnson

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Unfortunate Laundry Incident

I think the label on that fur coat said 'dry clean only.'

He was top in his class at Final Relaxation, until he was kicked out of
the ashram for refusing to do Downward-Facing Dog Pose.

You're a handsome devil. What's your name?

Reading: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. It is immensely enveloping. I sat down to read at 8 PM and didn't surface until midnight.

Playing: the soundtrack from the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie

"Wacky Web Site" of the Day: Snow Crystals. "Visit this site to learn how snowflakes form, see how scientists create designer snow crystals in the laboratory, learn how to catch and photograph snowflakes yourself, and find the best places to go snowflake watching."

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Clotheshorse Whore

Before I start yammering on about shallow, materialistic stuff, I need to announce that the furnace has been fixed. It seems that the pilot light went out. I somehow didn't think of that, even though I should've. Even if I had, though, I really don't think I'd have been willing to try lighting it on my own. That's just sort of serious and scary, as far as I'm concerned. I'd rather have someone watching me and ready to snatch the flame-device from my hand the first time I do that, you know?

The hilariously odd maintenance man showed up around 8:30 this morning. I was wearing two pairs of socks, a pair of corduroys over flannel pj pants, my hoodie and MB's hoodie over a T-shirt, and a knitted bobble hat. Fashionista! When I opened the door, the guy said, "So your heat's ou--oh. Yeah." He relit the pilot light and did something with a 'thermal coupling' and now all is roasty toasty in Casa de Velocibadger once more.

From this point on, if you're sick of hearing me yap about clearance rack banditry and baby stuff, you might want to go make a snack and come back tomorrow. I'll probably post something with actual merit then. For now, clearance clothes and baby stuff. Sorry.

I had a fantastic girls' night out with the bibliophile, evilducky, and Teacher Incognito. We ate at Olive Garden, since I was apparently the last person on Earth who'd never eaten there. Then, we hit the sales racks at Kohl's, and man was it sweet.

I got a kickass pair of brown cords and a really cute thermal:

The thermal kind of makes the pants look gargantuan, but it's just my crappy photography skillz. Here's a better shot of the supercute top:

Then, since FIVE of the internet board girls are now pregnant (congrats, Spence!), I hit the baby racks to try to find some good gift ideas. While I was over there, I looked in baby clearance, and found the following things worthy of stockpiling for future spawn:

After Kohl's, we went to Target. I got sucked into the vortex and ended up dropping $70. Yikes. But I scored this awesome shirt for $2.50:

I love it, because it reminds me of Picasso's Old Guitarist. MB (notoriously picky) not only likes it, but said it reminds him of Kat Von D from Miami Ink. Dude, I'm going to wear it every day if it renders me reminiscent of Kat. I totally heart her. (And I don't care what MB says--I still think she's hot.)

I should post something that's not completely materialistic and fluffy, but I still have to take a shower and I promised MB that I'd clean off the table before I go to bed. When I do projects, I tend to take over all available space, and I spent today working on a big photo project, so here's what's left behind:

That is one day worth of mess. Scary, huh? I promise I'll try to write something with some actual worth tomorrow. xoxo

Thursday, February 15, 2007

It's a planet made entirely out of ice.

Okay, not really. But it sure feels that way when the furnace decides that it doesn't want to kick in and the overnight low is going to drop to about 9 degrees Fahrenheit. MB called the landlord about an hour ago and left a message basically saying, "Uh...the heater is not responding. Could you maybe send someone to check on that tomorrow?" Not fifteen minutes later, the landlord called back to see if he should bring us a space heater for the night. Never wanting to be a bother, MB told him we'd probably be okay with all of our blankets. And he's right. But it means an early bedtime for me, since my fingers are literally going numb from cold sitting out here at the computer. Bollocks. I'm glad our landlord is such a nice guy, but for serious: It is really. fucking. cold.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Sexy librarian, or nerdy hipster wannabe?

MB and I went to the eye doctor today. It probably says something about my personality that I get more uptight about going to the optometrist than I do about going to the Girlie-Bits Doctor. I always get antsy during the part where they flip all the lenses down and make you choose which one looks better, one or two. I'm always like, What if I give the wrong answer? I'll have to wear crappy glasses for a whole year and it'll be all my fault! Yes, I'm a bit neurotic. Why do you ask?

Then, there's the problem of choosing frames. Apparently I have a little pygmy head, so I usually have to get my glasses from the kids' section. It's not that big of a deal most of the time, but selection is slim at the best of times at our optometrist's anyway, and even though no one would probably ever know--and even though they actually looked pretty cute on me--I just don't think I could take myself seriously ever again if I bought a pair of Bratz frames. After all, nothing says "savvy professional woman" like wearing a pair of glasses made for an eight-year-old girl and marketed by the company that makes those alarming semi-hoochie big-eyed dolls.

Complicating matters is the fact that I tend to find one thing that works for me and then cling to it for years. (See also my irrational fear of getting my hair cut off.) For nearly ten years, I've been getting small, simple wire frames, and for the last six years or so, I've been going with plain silver. So, of course, there were no silver frames to choose from, and most of the wire frames were too big or just weirdly shaped. Right off, MB brought me these:

I tried them on and liked them, but I'm really not sure I'll be able to pull them off. The lab tech is going to order them in chocolate brown so I can see if I like that color better, because I wasn't totally sold on the tortoise-shell colored ones they had in stock. I'm just terrified they'll make me look like the world's biggest tool and I won't notice until I'm looking at pictures five years from now. That's sort of how I feel when I look at pictures of myself in my first pair of glasses (which, incidentally, were also plastic and sort of clunky). I was eleven then and didn't know better. Now I usually do know better, but I still have no idea if this is a good move. Of course, if I hate them, it's not like I'm getting a freaking tattoo or something. They're glasses. They come off. But I'd hate to have to go spend more money just because the universe asked "One or two?" and I picked one when I should've said two.

Reading: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Playing: guessing games

Monday, February 12, 2007

We Got Game

It feels very strange to not blog every day or every other day. (Thanks, NaBloPoMo, for warping my standards forever.)

I spent Friday evening helping Brownie Girl Scouts paint T-shirts for their Art to Wear patch. Since the workshop was at the nature preserve, they got to use animal track and leaf stamps to decorate their shirts. One girl wrote, "I was trampled by animals!" at the bottom of her track-covered garment. Another used only leaves in brown paint. She was very meticulous, and her shirt looked wonderful. She concocted a story about walking through the woods, only to come upon a vicious leaf pile that opened up like a mouth, swallowed her whole, and then spit her out again when she didn't taste so good. Shades of Calvin & Hobbes and the carnivorous leaf pile, yes? I loved it.

At the end of the night, I was more or less adopted by two tiny girls who wanted me to be their guardian for the campfire. One of the girls was afraid of the dark, afraid of fire, didn't like hot chocolate, didn't like marshmallows, and was afraid a vampire would get her. I convinced her to eat her S'more with no marshmallow (she admitted it was good), drink lemonade instead of hot cocoa (even though the poor little thing shivered so hard she nearly spilled her cup), and walk to the fire ring with me, even though she wouldn't get near enough to feel the warmth. I counted a victory that she went out and seemed to have an okay time, even though we only stayed out for about five minutes before we gave up and went back inside where it was warm. When her dad arrived to pick her up, she told him about meeting the nature preserve's docent barn owl. She may not have liked the campfire, but something tells me she's going to remember the evening's other adventures.

On Saturday night, MB and I hosted the 8th annual Groundhog Day Party, which was concocted by the bibliophile when we started college, and which she and I have traded off hosting every year since. Last year, she did a Hawaiian theme, after we selected a luau themed groundhog photo for our invitation.

This year's invitation looked like this:

We didn't really do a theme, but here's a photo of our featured snack:

(Immense amounts of cool points to anyone who wasn't at the party who gets the joke.)

It was a smaller crowd than usual, but seemed to be one of the better parties of late. We ate our weights in too-sugary snacks while we played Taboo, Apples to Apples (LOVE!!), Scattergories (highlight:  two teams coming up with the phrase "donkey dong" for two different entries during the same round, completely independent of each other, even though that phrase does not make a regular appearance in anyone's lexicon), and then modified Pictionary. Being a geek fucking rocks, especially when you know lots of other awesome geeks to hang out with. The last partygoers left at 4:30 AM, so MB and I spent most of Sunday sleeping it off. We finally got up around mid-afternoon and ended up going to the grocery to round out our big eventful day. Party animals, that's us.

Reading: Playing the Moldovans at Tennis by Tony Hawks

Just Finished: The Secret Lives of Men and Women, the latest PostSecret book

Playing: Led Zeppelin on shuffle on the mpMonster

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The greatest good that mortals know

I've read that scents often trigger memories. In general, I don't find that I'm very sensitive to any certain smells, outside of the obvious things like associating certain colognes with people I've known who wore them, or remembering how MB smells just by thinking about him. Instead, music has always been a huge memory trigger. When I hear certain songs, I not only remember certain events associated with them, but I actually am more or less taken back to the way I felt or my state of mind at the time when that song gained significance. I'm not sure I'm explaining it properly, but there it is.

Now, I doubt there are many people who would argue with the assertion that there are a few basic, quintessential ways to experience music. Probably the purest is to hear it live, especially at a big concert, where the drumbeat settles in behind your breastbone and makes you feel like your whole body is part of the song and that it's the bass notes, not your heart, pushing the blood through your veins. And there are those fleeting moments where no matter how huge the crowd is, for a few seconds, there's just one entity, one huge organic thing.

The same thing can sometimes happen at small shows, and when it does it's maybe even better just because it makes you feel like you're part of something that you only have to share with the others in the room. Another standard is to listen to a song with headphones, where the music becomes the most present thing and outside sounds don't intrude. I've heard that listening to old music on vinyl is the only way to go, and I can see the merits in that argument as well. There's also a lot to be said for experiencing a song for the first time with someone you're close to, or sharing music with someone who loves it as much as you do.

For me, though, probably the most potent setup for getting enveloped in music is listening to it in the car when I'm alone, especially at night with the windows up or during the day, out on the highway, with the windows down and the radio up loud enough to drown out the wind and the road noise. I don't know if it has to do with movement or the fact that I almost always love driving or what, but those times when I hear a song I love and can crank up the volume and just let it bring up old ghosts, that's when the music is purest.

Today, it happened to me twice. The first time, I was on my way to pick up takeout for dinner when Alanis Morisette's "Hand in My Pocket" came on the radio. Straight back to high school. It especially reminds me of my friend H, and how during senior year, we hung out almost every day after school, even though we'd never really hung out much before that. By the end of the year, we were best friends, and we've been so ever since.

The second time, I was driving home from seeing Pan's Labyrinth with Danger and her husband (my cousin, who needs a good pseudonym). I was already in a sort of trippy, pensive mood from the movie, compounded with the fact that it was dark and I was tired. I pulled into my parking lot at 10:00, and the station I was tuned to plays two Led Zeppelin songs back-to-back every night at 10 PM. I told myself that I'd wait and see what song was first, and that if it was "Kashmir" (one of my favorites), I'd stay in the car and listen to it. "Kashmir" started, so I turned it up and settled in to listen, and it took me back to a summer night sometime in early college, when I'd met my friends at Denny's and got back home at 2 in the morning. We used to hang out at Denny's several nights a week in the summers, and even though things have changed and we've moved on and things are still wonderful, sometimes the loss of those nights aches like a small piece is missing from me.

Even going back to Denny's to hang out doesn't really recapture the feel and the spirit and the particular energy of those days; it just serves as a warm remembrance. That morning four or five years ago, sitting in my mom's minivan in the driveway, letting that song cement the feelings and memory of that night, all that came back and for as long as the song lasted, I was two of me at once--the person I've grown into, and the girl I was then. And both of us were washed away and melted in with the perfect, chest-thumping beat.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Life as a Surrealist Painting

Even though I'll be 26 in March, I still think of myself as a kid. I don't feel all that different from the way I did in my mid-college years, really. Sure, my metabolism isn't what it used to be, and technically I'm an old married biddy now, but other than that, I still feel pretty non-adult most of the time.

But today I started an IRA (finally). And tomorrow, at work, I'm going to be hiring someone. Me, the girl who still feels a little bit like the skater-pants-wearing, bad-poetry-writing high schooler she was nearly ten years ago; the girl who still buys most of her clothes at Goodwill or off the clearance rack; the girl who recently spent three consecutive evenings playing 8-bit Nintendo...this girl, hiring somebody else. It's quite a shock to the system, let me tell you.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Bones of the World

When the world was young, when the continents were still new and hissing and hot, a mountain chain as large as the Appalachians was born. It stretched across what would someday be called North America. Over millenia, these mountains were worn away by wind and water and weather and time, until only the roots remained. This vast expanse of primitive, raw rock formed a foundation from which a continent would grow, impossibly slowly, sediments and arcs and crust adhering to it by accretion. For a billion years the core would stand firm, unbroken, never bent, as world-shaping raged around it.

Every continent has a rigid heart. This is the craton, from the Greek kratos, strength. It is the guts of the continents, the basement of the planet, the bones of the world, the rock at the soul of it all. It is the stable center around which the ever-changing, shifting sediments ebb and flow. It roots us to the core, the essence, the white-hot molten heartbeat of our living Earth.

It is quartz and feldspar. Granite. Pink and gray, garish but painfully beautiful. The oldest thing I will ever touch. It fits in the palm of my hand, though the weight of the 1.2 billion years it has weathered should bear me to the ground. It looks like any other shiny novelty from beneath the dirt, but to understand its scope is to feel infinite and infinitesimal, all in one breath.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Stuck in the middle with you

As I've mentioned before, I belong to a smallish, close-knit message board. I consider the women on the board to be good friends, and since we talk online, I usually talk to them a lot more than I talk to my geographically-present friends. We all met on a wedding planning board, so most of us were married within a few years of each other. I was, I think, fourth-to-last or fifth-to-last to get married. A lot of the girls are a few years older than me, and some are almost five years older than I am. Many of them already have kids, and several have little bitty kids, born in the last two years. Now, four (four!!) of them are pregnant. I am utterly thrilled for all of them, and I'm loving every minute of celebrating their pregnancies and looking forward to welcoming their babies into our quirky extended family group.

But I'm also sort of sad, because by the time MB and I are ready to have children, most of my online friends' kids will be in Kindergarten. I fear that no one will be left to be my "pregnancy buddy," that everyone will be totally over diapers and teething and first steps, and that I'll be left behind, yelling "Hey, wait for me!" just like I am now. All the bloggers I read who have babies and small children will be leaps and bounds away from me, and I'll be running to catch up, always. While I'm not exactly jealous of my friends who are buying houses and having babies and bonding through motherhood, it does make me feel like the last kid left on the playground sometimes, yelling after them to wait, to come back and go down the tallest slide with me one last time.

And then, there's the other side of my friend-sphere. My "real-life" friends, the ones I live near and hang out with frequently. About half of the people in my somewhat largeish group of close friends are married. Of the married folk, one couple is actively seeking to expand their family, and one couple is thinking about doing so soon. The rest are adamantly no-kids-please. The singles are not in any hurry to become un-single, and also have no plans (that I know of) to have kids. So among my friends, I'm one of the weird ones, because I actually think about and talk about and read about and want babies. Not all the time, mind you. I'm not baby crazy, and I don't go on about it all the time (at least, I don't think so). I can't gush about babies to my friends, because it's somewhat clear they think it's boring or weird or at least uninteresting. They smile those "isn't she cute" smiles and say things like, "You and your mommy blogs" and I wonder if they'll find me boring and trite and as dismissible in their eyes as the other "mommy bloggers" when I have kids. I hope not, and I don't really think so, but who knows? I wonder sometimes if they look at me like I look at my online friends. To them, am I the one running off toward a different kind of reality, leaving them behind? Am I always going to be stuck in the middle, left behind and yet running ahead?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Domestic Goddess. Or not.

When the Bibliophile and I started our freshman year in college, our lovely zany roommate, the Flashdancer, indoctrinated us in the tradition of Family Night. Each Wednesday was Family Night, and we each took turns cooking dinner for the others. When I finished cooking my first Family Night meal for myself, the Bibliophile, the Flashdancer, and the Quiet One, I called my mom on the phone and thanked her for all the meals she'd ever cooked for us. I told her I'd never understood how much work it took. I think she laughed.

I remembered that conversation with clarity today. I spent yesterday loafing on the couch, nursing a gnarly-ass cold, watching taped episodes of Top Chef and Top Design, and feeling sorry for myself. This morning I felt marginally better, so I went through my blogroll, read and commented on a friend's in-progress manuscript, baked a batch of muffins, washed the dishes, did more reading and commenting, washed more dishes, and cooked most of dinner (barbecue chicken in the crockpot, green beans from a can, and StoveTop...woo! Challenging!). I was feeling pretty proud of myself until I realized that (1) I barely did anything and (2) moms do this stuff and more, all the time, while raising their kids and sometimes working outside the home. So moms? (And dads) I salute you. I bow in your general direction. I am in awe of your mad domestic skillz. Rock on.

Dear Winter:  It's About Goddamn Time

(But seriously, you call that "snow"?)

Reading: Playing the Moldovans at Tennis by Tony Hawks

Playing: Beck Radio on Pandora

"Wacky Web Site" of the Day: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid (unusual phobias)