31 August 2010

I'll be gone before you rise

In the cool of the morning--57F for the last day of August!--I took the son to the bus stop, then cooked the daughter and the spouse breakfast, and school began again. A new day, another chapter.

I am home now, but it was an interesting weekend all around, lovely in many, many ways.

What I love about travel, as well as the bits of life that go beyond the grocery store and shopping for children's underwear and shoes, is that it gives me stories. Some have a place in the larger scheme and some are just for me. They are food for contemplation and food for my heart. There are moments of kindness, of hilarity, of perfect accord.

I leapt, and flew to Columbus. I worried, but went anyway. I got--you guessed it!--the flying toilet paper roll fueled by a firecracker. I hate tiny airplanes (that's a story, but for later. And no, I don't like any airplane, but if I can't even stand up straight in the aisle...).

It's been a long road, but I got back on.

And there was a concert.

Three hours is not long enough. And I wonder...if I asked nicely, do you think they'd play "BU2B" for two hours?

There were so many moments when I got pure chills that broke into enormous goose bumps, among them "Workin' Them Angels," the aforementioned "BU2B," "Caravan," and "The Camera Eye." I had to laugh during "Far Cry" at the memory of the son pointing at me and mouthing, "That's you!" at the line "barking at strangers and speaking in tongues." Rotten child. Correct, of course, but even so.

When it ends, because of course three hours passes and it does end, a little voice in my head whispers, "maybe just one more?" Columbus was supposed to be my swan song this time round, and it was a small miracle that I managed it at all. But in the afterglow, I want more. And it doesn't help that I run into my buddy from Puerto Rico, PK, after the show, and he says, "What about Tulsa? What about Atlanta?"

And a little voice whispers, "Maybe."

(And the stern voice says, "How many miracles do you expect to pull off?")

PK and I sit and chat for hours, and suddenly it's 3 am, and I have to make a mad dash to the hotel to pack and check out. I am supposed to be at the airport at 5, the usual drill, so that I am home before lunch. I am oddly awake as I go through the motions of security and coffee and reading the morning paper.

When the plane takes off, the sky is just beginning to lighten in the east.

"Maybe," I whisper to the sleeping city below.

Go listen to some good music: "Detroit" from the EP Tragedy & Legacy by Black Gold. I'm not really sure what the song is about...something bad from the sound of it, but that one line always strikes me. Of course, I reversed it. And this is a happy post from a happy person. And as posts go, not an easy one to write. Concerts like this tend to hit me in such an emotional place that I find them very hard to talk about. As my son also likes to say, I am Spock, so emotional accessibility isn't necessarily my strong point. Though, I feel it alright. And cherish that.

27 August 2010

And when you find it, you keep it

Milton sat perched on my printer this morning, like a vulture or a gargoyle, eyes intent, ears forward, watching the paper come forth. About the time half the document had printed, he swiftly reached in the paper slot and ripped the sheet out, pulling it straight to his mouth.

The cat ate my boarding pass.

I pulled out a suitcase last night. Milton stalked around, a hunted expression in his eyes.

He hates when any of us travel, but he most especially hates it when I travel. If one of the children goes off to spend the night with a friend, he roams the house, uttering a deep, mournful mrrowrr, and refuses to settle down. When I am gone, he runs frantically room to room, yelling with alarm (or so I am told). Of course, when I return, he is devil-may-care, oh-you're-here-are-you? Yawn.

Right now, he's sleeping, ignoring me. It would be a good time to actually fill the suitcase, but I've been hit with a sort of languorous panic where I go limp and I'm tempted to throw caution to the wind, and toss in jeans and a t-shirt and just go. But that's not the way I travel. I have to think about it. What gear do I need? Shoes? Do these jeans make me look fat? Oh, and where is that boarding pass? But I might want blue eye shadow!

(I haven't worn blue eyeshadow since I was in eighth grade.)

This nonsense generally results in enough clothing to last me a week and enough makeup to outfit Cirque du Soleil, while I usually leave the bits and pieces I could really use (CAMERA?) at home.

Suffice to say that bright and early tomorrow morning, I will be digging around in some folder, shrieking, "Where is my ticket?"

It's chaos, but it's chaos I love. It's an airplane, but for something I love (believe me, I have to love it to get on an airplane). And tomorrow, when I get where I am going, I'll be able to relax a moment and let the joy of the experience take me.

For now, I pack.

Go listen to some good music: "White Shadows" from the album X&Y by Coldplay. Worst airplane ride ever: Moline to St. Paul. OMG...I've seen paper towel rolls bigger than that plane! And yeah, actually I'm pretty close to packed.

26 August 2010

The Dreaming

Last night, I watched Amy Hardie's fascinating documentary The Edge of Dreaming (thanks to Pop Candy for the heads up). The entire show, which aired on POV, is currently available at the PBS website. The documentary starts with Hardie dreaming the death of her horse George, and subsequently discovering that George had in fact died that night. She next dreams that she herself will die when she is 48...with her 48th birthday right around the corner. The documentary follows her attempt to understand dreaming from a scientific standpoint and to vanquish the fear of imminent death that is consuming her. Despite the difficult nature of the subject matter, Hardie is a mostly upbeat and wholly likable narrator, and while a bit of the doc felt a little silly, I understand her desire to pursue whatever works in addressing her plight.

As someone who dreams vividly, wildly, and frequently, I found the biochemical and neuroscience aspects that Hardie touches on particularly interesting. As a woman trying to ensure that I live long enough to see my children to adulthood, I was definitely touched by the sequences that included her husband and children. There was also a beauty and texture to the filmmaking that I found really compelling. Well worth the hour to watch it; I am still thinking about it today.

Next on my list of must-sees: Cairo Time.

Go listen to some good music: "The Dreaming" from the album The Dreaming by Kate Bush. I really don't know what's with all the dreaming stuff, since I've been dreaming crazy stuff for the last week. Full moon? Anticipation? Who knows.

25 August 2010

Like anything is possible

So I ended my night last night giggling over hotel rooms.

Yeah, no doubt I'm the only person around who can find hotel rooms funny. But there it is.

And I awoke blearily this morning after a bizarre dream in which my hair stylist was not my usual hair stylist, and she informed me she was going to be even later than she already was because she was going to lunch before she did my hair, and I had the kids in tow, and I was on Victoria Island, and I thought I'd take them to the beach for a little while. Except I somehow ended up in a little back alley reminiscent of those in New Orleans' French Quarter where a has-been '80s singer was crooning at an outdoor bistro. The daughter announced she was thirsty and picked up a carafe of iced tea from a service area and swigged it down. I apologized to the astonished bartender, who was carrying on the '80s theme with a mohawk and bad bleach job, and I offered to pay for the tea. He quoted some outrageous price, at which point, I discovered my wallet wasn't in the bag I was carrying...

The son staggered out while I was drinking my coffee and trying to banish the weirdness.

"How late did you stay up?" I asked him. "Because your light was still on when I went to sleep."

"Oh, 12:30 or something," he yawned.

"Do I have to remind you again that school starts next week, and you need to get back in the habit of going to bed earlier? Must I come in there and take your light bulbs away every night?"

"Mom," he spluttered. "That's harsh."

The daughter laughed.

I also read a cute little interview in the back of the latest cooking magazine with some pop singer (I didn't recognize the name and have since forgotten it), where the interviewer asked, "So what did you have for dinner last night?" and the singer fired off this list of exotic dishes, finally ending with the admission, "Oh, alright, it was tomato soup."

I know how that feels, and it made me laugh. I made a large deli sandwich for dinner for about the eighth time in four weeks. It's good and it doesn't require cooking.

Today is supposed to be even hotter than yesterday.

Dinner will NOT be tomato soup.

Go listen to some good music: "Running Down a Dream" from the album Full Moon Fever by Tom Petty. Oh gods, my exercise bike awaits.

24 August 2010

It just takes some time

Some days are simply discouraging. It's not just that everything is going wrong (and people are throwing themselves in front of trains, off bridges, and into bodies of water), it's that everything is wrong.

I got through the frustration of the ordering the son's textbooks, which was flavored with a sort of helpless rage at the knowledge that I used to buy mine in an actual bookstore on the actual school campus and the process was far more efficient and cost effective.

I fielded a phone call from the school where the son took his defensive driving class and they said they liked his good attitude and his hard work. Their only concern was that he seemed a little tense behind the wheel, and I had to explain that he's been a little tense about driving since the morning two years ago that he saw another teen's blood smeared all over the street and sidewalk in the wake of a horrific car accident.

It's been that sort of day.

And I've just been informed that the cat has delivered a hairball in front on my bedroom door. One more clean up job.

Tomorrow is another day, another story, a new start. I will stop reading the newspaper, and concentrate on the next thing, the better thing, what is ahead.

Go listen to some good music: "The Middle" from the album Jimmy Eat World by Jimmy Eat World. I'm not in a bad mood, just a discouraged mood. I want things to be better, always. I don't really have the capacity to ignore what goes on in the world around me, though heaven knows I try.

23 August 2010

It leads you here

I woke this morning, my heart racing like it knew something I didn't.

I had a bad night, but a good day.

And all day, my heart raced.

What it knows it's not telling.

I've been attending to business and responsibilities, tying up the loose ends of summer. In a few days, I'll be able to breathe, at least briefly. I hope that the road ahead of me brings more discoveries, more to learn, more to see.

For years, the years that I had to drive my then young son hundreds of miles a week to get him to and from school, I dreamed of roads. I know that I set out on a particular journey almost a decade ago, and it took me somewhere very different than where I'd planned.

Last night, I dreamed I was in a strange town, though it seemed a bit familiar, and someone behind me said something to me, expressing doubt or pointing out a flaw, and I shrugged and replied, "I'll take the chance."

And in the dream, I knew that taking that chance would lead somewhere I hadn't planned but I was more than happy to take that path anyway. I make my plans and follow them through, but I am alive to the possibility that something better may present itself, something that it would be foolish to push away.

Life is short and hope is long. I make my plans and build my castles. I know that everything can easily come crashing down. But I have to continue my journeys and take those chances. It hasn't been easy, but I've learned to bend, usually, rather than break.

And I'm glad. Whatever happens, I am glad.

My heart races along.

Go listen to some good music: "Under the Milky Way" from the album Digs Other People's Songs by Nicole Atkins.

20 August 2010

...and I want to talk to you

Friday, Aug 20th, 2010 -- You may think that today is just another day, but your key planet Mercury is up to mischief as it suspends movement to turn retrograde. Others may be surprised if you change your tune in the middle of a song, but they also could be quite amused with your current antics. Be very careful about what you ask for because you just might get it.

Obviously, I am being advised to do what I already figured out is the best course of action: shut up! And having already put my foot in it once this morning, practically upon waking...

[she smiles]

Let's see here: change my tune in the middle of a song? I don't think I do. Usually, I'm pretty good at staying the course, though I might stop short to reevaluate: "tra-la-la-la...er, wait a minute. What exactly are you doing here? Oh, ok. Tra-la-la-la..."

But antics? My behaviour tends not to be antic. I'm far too much a stick-in-the-mud for antics. I'll cop to impulsiveness, of course, but that bears little relation to clownishness. I'll juggle with words sometimes, but I leave it to you to keep up. If you choose. (Alright, sometimes if I choose. If you're just annoying me, I'll happily leave you in the dust.) And what I've been doing lately--getting two teens ready for back to school in 10 days--hardly qualifies as antic. Boring, maybe...

(Planes, yes, I know. Shhh.)

Be careful what I ask for. According to my family and those who know me best, I ask for little to nothing. I don't think this is quite true. I ask for, want for, little that is material, it's true, and mostly, I try to stay out of everyone's way and not make demands on anyone around me unless I have to. And then it usually isn't for myself but on behalf of someone else (my famous "Please don't bore my child and kill his love of learning" speech comes to mind). But I do request more peace of mind for myself, and I'd like to be a little less awkward. Someone, and I'm sorry that I've forgotten where I saw it written, said something somewhere recently about "self-imposed awkwardness" and that just resonated. I'm good at self-imposed awkwardness. I'd like not to be.

Right. Time to belt up. I was warned!

Go listen to some good music: "Talk" from the album X&Y by Coldplay. Talk? Oh yes, I can talk. Sometimes it requires an invitation, though, and I am known to just shut down if I think I'm talking too much. Horoscope courtesy of Tarot.com As I've said, I find amusement value in this stuff, but today...sheesh, maybe they're right.

19 August 2010

Zombie in the house

After a long, involved and horrid nightmare involving zombies (and believe me, zombies are a perfect metaphor for the day I had yesterday), I woke muzzy-headed and slightly miserable, somewhat unsure as to whether I was about to become dinner for the undead.

(Why I thought hiding between two bicycle racks was a good idea... And the zombie that was after me had a net. Since when did they get to use tools?)

I think my brain is still fighting the zombies. Or it may have turned into one.

I've got the son set up with some really bad movie dubbed into Spanish so that he can start the final assignment for AP/IB summer coursework, and I'm trying really hard not to listen because it's dreadful (a blue-ish David Hasselhoff is currently rolling around on the floor groaning). The son wanted to watch a remake of Night of the Living Dead in Spanish, but I nixed that idea since he has to produce a verbal commentary of what he's watched for the class.

I know. I'm so boring. But I've had enough zombies for this 24-hour period.

In fact, I'm so boring that I need to go hunt down some airline tickets.

And yeah, the place I'm going? Figured prominently in the movie Zombieland.

Wow, does my mind ever work in scary ways.

Go listen to some music: "Zombie in the House" from the album Zombieland (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), music by David Sardy. This is the son's new favorite movie. Zombies? He loves 'em. Also, I'm not making up any part of this chain of events. In case you were wondering.

17 August 2010

The focus is sharp...

The son desperately wants me to review Friday night's Rush show. I'm not entirely sure why except that I believe he wants the world to know he was the happiest 16-year-old in the world when the band launched into "The Camera Eye."

"I told you they were playing it," I said to him.

"Call me 'faithless,'" he quipped.

Whack.

Also, he got a t-shirt when those were tossed out at the end of the show, which really pleased him.

The daughter, oh, the daughter was in her own happy little world. She'd spent Friday practicing the entirety of Moving Pictures on Rock Band, and so, was well prepared to air guitar like mad, which she did, with aplomb. Also, she was happy to put her head on my shoulder and sing loudly in my ear whenever possible. She also enjoyed grabbing my hand and waving it around in the air, to what end, I'm not quite certain.

It thrills me that the kids were so into the music that evening and had such a great time. I'd gotten the tickets through the Ticketmaster auction, and it's always a bit of a crap shoot (a great crap shoot in Albuquerque, as it turned out) as to where you'll be sitting. I was aiming for the front row of Orchestra 2, but I bid just a little too high and we ended up in the pit. The kids were thrilled anyway, as these were the best seats they'd ever had, and we had good, largely unobstructed views.

I'm always a little stressed, though, because I know the spouse isn't exactly a huge fan (though he said he greatly enjoyed Friday's show), and he sort of stands there while I'm bouncing around like a ping pong ball.

(I think I did better at standing still, but how does one stand still listening to the mad calliope in "BU2B?" I see a whirling carousel when I hear that song, something on the order of the one in Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. And stand still during "Caravan," which grabbed me by the heart and soul the first time I heard it? Really, can not wait to see where this album goes.)

In any event, my entourage evidently had a lot of fun (I still hear bursts of song from various bedrooms and Moving Pictures remains the Rock Band chart topper of the moment). Of course, I thought it was excellent, and the sound where I stood was wonderful, and I've still missed half the movies because I'm so entranced by the action on the stage, and I loved every second of everything I heard.

Well, except for the part where they say, "Good night..."

Go listen to some good music: "The Camera Eye" from the album Moving Pictures by Rush. In the overall scheme of the Rush shows I've seen, this was definitely up there with the particularly memorable ones.

16 August 2010

Arc of a diver

Sun burning on my shoulders and back. Damp cling of wet bathing suit. Sandpaper surface of the diving board rough under my wet feet, not precisely painful since I'd built up the summer callous that came from running barefoot everywhere.

The vista was endless from that vantage point, the top of the high dive. The Catalina mountains were stark and clear to my left, granitic outcroppings mocking with the faces I always saw in the rock surface, dreamed came alive in my worst nightmares. In front of me, the Rincons shimmered in the heat haze.

My toes curled stubbornly around the edge of the diving board.

I don't know why it's so important to certain children to challenge others to do frightening, potentially dangerous things. Are they holding up a mirror to their own insecurity, trying to establish their own superiority? Why did children like me answer the challenges of scrawny, ugly little bullies like JB?

Eventually, I would have found my own way up there, without the intervention of JB and his mocking assurances that I was too cowardly to jump off the high dive. Generally, I find my own level, and am perfectly capable of rising to the challenges I issue myself, which tend to be far more difficult than anything anyone else can come up with.

But I stood there, 12 feet above the water, about to jump into 12 feet of water, knowing I couldn't swim.

It wasn't for lack of lessons. I had those. And physically, I was quite capable of other athletic feats, but there was an unfortunate juxtaposition of arms, legs, torso and water that left me flummoxed. It just didn't work. While others glided effortlessly through the inner space of water, I flailed, failed, sank.

So I stood there, pushing my wet hair out of my face, hair that was hot in its own right from the intense summer temperatures, and I contemplated the deep blue below.

I'd said nothing when JB loudly spat out, "You'd never jump off the high dive!" I just marched over to the tall aluminum ladder and started climbing, knowing that once I was up there, there was only one way down.

Inevitable. I love that word, and it plays such an enormous part in my life. I think, sometimes, that I am making choices, but what I do is often inevitable, because I knew before I was offered the choice what my course of action would be, though I pay lip service to the process of thinking it through. And sometimes, the choice has already been made for me; I follow the course of action already laid out.

Oh, I could have given into fear that hellishly hot day, walked back along the diving board and climbed back down the ladder. It was a course of action. But it wasn't an option.

Instead, I jumped.

That was inevitable.

Hurtling off the end of the board, I squeezed my eyes closed and could only wait to hit the water. I did, inevitably, and it was hard and it was cold, and my body rushed down, down, down through the blue depths, ears filled with pressure, filled with water, platinum bubbles shooting up all around me. From the bottom of the deep end, I looked up, and saw beams of sunlight shooting through the waves and ripples I'd left in my wake on the surface so far above my head. My lungs felt like they'd burst, with the joy of accomplishment, with lack of air.

I broke through the surface of the water, gasping, triumphant.

I took plenty more dives off the high dive after that, of course. Once the quantity of the unknown was removed, I could enjoy the experience, running off the board, cannonballing off the board, even diving off the board, which one time turned into a less-than-magnificent belly flop, leaving me with an enormous, angry red mark on my belly. That, too, was probably inevitable. Even belly flops are part of the process.

For weeks now, I've battled indecision and obstruction. The indecision, naturally, was my own, and the obstruction came from everywhere. The more indecisive I became, the greater and more numerous were the obstructions, which only lead to more indecision (and a great deal of whining) on my part. Over the weekend, I coaxed myself back up the ladder, one more time, and then realized I was being ridiculous. I gave myself the night to sleep on it (which, let me tell you, has never made one iota of difference in a decision I was making. Inevitable!), and this morning I placed a phone call.

And I jumped.

Oh, I've done this before, and I can make a million excuses why this time was different, but it boils down to a single variable that always exists here, the one unknown that keeps me on edge.

I'm not a child anymore, and I remind myself that I can deal with fear. I work with variables and unknowns all the time, and they can be easily put into perspective. I can't look for obstructions and risk missing the magic. I haven't the leisure to stand there, toes curling obstinately around the diving board, contemplating 12 feet of air plus 12 feet of water, and what again, exactly, is it that happens after I've plunged through 24 feet of space? I still can't swim, but I know, from experience, that I might flail (and oh, have I) but I can do what is required to get back to the surface, I can do what is asked, I can do what I want, even if it is awkward and ungraceful. I will work it out.

I do hold on; sometimes, that is all one can do. But sometimes, you have to jump.

From this vantage point, the vista is not so expansive. Time is short. Life is short, and I want to make the most of what I have, of what is offered, of what is available, while I still can.

Go listen to some good music: "Arc of a Diver" from the album Arc of a Diver by Steve Winwood. While you see a chance, take it. Oh, I've spent plenty of time second-guessing myself, filling the air with loud "What have you dones?" But really? Inevitable.

14 August 2010

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

Yes, thank you for that, certainly.

But more importantly, thank you to three unspecified but very important people (to me, anyway) for making two kids' night last night.

It made them really happy. It made me really happy.

Go listen to some music: "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" from the album Anthology by Sly & the Family Stone. And yes, the bass on "Caravan" was very close to perfect.

13 August 2010

Find another road to take

It's Friday the 13th!

Someone with whom I once worked was adamant that Friday the 13th was a lucky day. I don't generally think of days as lucky or not (although I had an epic bike crash as a kid on Thursday, October 12--concussion and everything--so I didn't think too highly of Thursday, the 12th for awhile), but I'm willing to work with that idea. Besides, I get a concert tonight, which automatically makes it a good day, right?

(Yes, dammit! I've had enough of obstruction.)

Anyway, the boy made it safely through yesterday's car rally/driver training (as did my car), though he's doing more of the same today, skidding, slaloming and what not through Irvine Meadows' parking lot. I asked him what Samuel L. Jackson thought of the proceedings, and K. indicated that he was "looking on approvingly."

Who knows what lurks in the mind of a 16-year-old boy learning to drive?

I guess I'll find out since I have to head down mid-afternoon to watch the boy skid, slalom and what not through the parking lot.

I hold on.

Go listen to some good music: "We Hold On" from the album Snakes and Arrows by Rush. I have reached the point where I will move heaven and earth to do what needs to be done. Probably a good point to have arrived at. And yeah, it's worth it.

12 August 2010

Germany calling

I have been getting the weirdest phone calls. And text messages!

Early in the summer, I started getting texts with an international phone number. I assumed they were a scam and didn't respond, reasoning that even if it wasn't a scam, the texts were clearly not for me.

So, the texts stopped at some point, and on June 29, I started getting phone calls from what appears to be a German mobile number. D. and I were walking back up to the car in Albuquerque when I got the first one. I generally just ignore numbers I don't recognize, again assuming one of several possibilities: wrong number, scam, or telemarketer. I don't worry too much, especially if no one leaves a message.

(Also, I don't even have my cell phone turned on about half the time. Also, it's never set to ring. I'm not one of those folks who has to announce my cell phone prowess to the world by having the ring tone set to the highest setting with some really obnoxious noise. Mine just sort of vibrates insistently. I'll be working along and hear some buzzing noise that I can never quite place and by the time I realize it's my cell ringing, I've either got a missed call or a voicemail. This actually works quite well for me: If it's a friend, I return the call, and if it's not, no problem. I know, weird. I have this idea that my telephones are for MY convenience, not for the convenience of someone trying to sell me something.)

So...Germany keeps calling at odd moments, but with the exception of Albuquerque, when I ignored the call, they are always missed calls, no message.

Yesterday, I was working along, and it suddenly sounded like a beehive in my purse, and I yanked out the phone because AT has been calling a lot lately (the son is invited to her daughter's 16th birthday party in a few weeks).

But it was Germany, according to the display. So, I dived in and answered.

"Hello?" I barked. "Hello?"

Dead air. Hung up and went back to work.

The buzzing started again. I answered.

It was a man. Whatever he said was incomprehensible (and didn't sound like German), so I said, "Sorry?" and he repeated himself, equally incomprehensibly. I told him I thought he had the wrong number. He replied with what sounded like an interrogative, and I repeated that I believed he'd dialed the wrong number.

At which point came very clearly, in perfect English: "Oh. I'm sorry. Bye."

???

I'm half tempted to call the number back and just to see if I can get an explanation. I don't mind a good mystery, but I always like to know the answer.

*******

So, today and tomorrow, the son is tearing around the parking lot at Irvine Meadows (also known at that Cell Phone Place, and even though they are my cell phone provider: GRRR! ARGH! It will always be Irvine Meadows), learning how to destroy drive my car. My car. I paid the earth for this course (teen defensive driving skills), so I hope they teach him something worthwhile over the next two days. I guess I'll find out, since I have to appear at his "graduation" tomorrow afternoon.

Today, however, I'm taking the daughter bowling, which hopefully will help me to concentrate on something other than frustration and destruction anxiety.

And blessedly, today the SWAT team seems to be elsewhere.

Go listen to some good music, with apologies to The Clash: "London Calling" from the album London Calling by The Clash.

11 August 2010

Ocean of noise

You know what sort of day it's going to be when you have to check Google maps to see if the SWAT team has barricaded the roads you need to travel to run errands. The roads the SWAT team hasn't barricaded have been closed down by road construction and are the same major roads that are closed this time of year every year. And yes, I have to leave the house today because I won't have a car for the next two days and what I need to do requires a car.

Of course.

I'm sure the road construction is part of some asinine "stimulus" package. It's stimulating my ire for damn sure.

Meanwhile, the helicopters whirl happily overhead.

Go listen to some good music: "Ocean of Noise" from the album Neon Bible by Arcade Fire. You wonder why I'm in such a state? I wonder why I can't actually DO anything?

10 August 2010

Lost

I am lost.

(she wails)

Come and find me?

Please.

Go listen to some good music: "Lost?" from the album Viva La Vida by Coldplay. And I've really had enough of my life being on permanent hold.

07 August 2010

The middle, pt. 2

Me, sitting in the dentist's chair, waiting to get my teeth cleaned: "Why are you limping?"

Dentist: "Oh, my hip hurts."

Me: "Getting old sucks."

Dentist, laughing: "Yeah! So, how's your health?"

Me, shrugging: "Fine, I guess."

Dentist, looking at blood pressure reading: "Well, your blood pressure is high today."

Me: "I spent the week upgrading the kids' computers to Windows 7, and had to find and rewrite a bunch of corrupt registry entries on the daughter's computer to fix her shell folders."

Dentist, after a brief silence: "Oh."

Me: "So, what is it?"

She holds up the monitor: 108/64.

I nod.

Dentist: "Your pulse is high, too."

I cock an eyebrow at her.

Dentist: "55."

Me: "Hmm."

Dentist: "Any medications?"

Me: "Ibuprofen."

Dentist: "What do you take it for?"

Me, with feeling: "Everything."

Dentist, nodding: "Me, too."

Go listen to some good music: "The Middle" from the album Jimmy Eat World by Jimmy Eat World. The dentist has known me for something close to 20 years. We went through our first pregnancies at the same time and our sons are 5 months apart in age; my daughter is about a year older than hers.

03 August 2010

The middle

So.

(Hey, it's better than "Well." Right?)

I'm in the middle of upgrading two Vista computers to Windows 7. It shouldn't be that big a deal, but these are the kids' computers and I have miles of film to back up. And the books they write and what not. Old homework assignments. And interminable virus scans because these things require so damn many files to run.

Anybody remember DOS? Yeah.

(Alright, I've just decided not to go down that road.)

Hmmm.

Because I can't be content with tearing my hair out over computers, I completed a major clean out project this morning (because my house needs to be empty before I tear down half of it, along with tearing out my hair), and then made fried chicken, biscuits and buttered green beans for dinner.

Yes, from scratch. I even grew my own green beans.

(No, I didn't. They were frozen.)

Fried chicken has been big on the agenda of late, what with the spouse ordering it at Glacier Park Lodge, and then the daughter reading all those southern-fried recipes. Yesterday, while grocery shopping, I was looking for a whole chicken, but found large packs of good-quality leg sections and half-breasts for $0.97/lb.

(Okay, not going down that road either. Yes, I did delete half of that last paragraph. If you know me or have read here long, you probably know that I'm extremely picky about the food that I buy. Suffice to say we're just not going there today or...no.)

So, I was able to purchase enormous quantities of chicken for about $7.00. Tonight I fried up about half of it, and put the other half in the freezer for barbecuing at a later date. I learned a basic, southern-style pan-frying method (I've been making fried chicken since I was 12, which was when I was charged with making dinner every night my mother was working), which involves soaking the chicken in milk and then dredging it in a flour/spice combination. Tonight, I kept it simple with flour, salt and black pepper. It's a good, easy recipe, susceptible to many variations. The crust turns out crispy and the meat is moist without being greasy.

And everyone watched in horror as I carefully denuded my chicken of its crust, but that's how I roll.

Buttered green beans. Honestly. You steam green beans and then put a small pat of butter on them. Then you eat them. Delicious.

People have this misguided notion that biscuits are difficult to make. Please, please, please allow me to divest you of that notion. Skip the whomp-'em biscuits (that's what my mother calls the things that can be found in cardboard tubes in the refrigerated section of the grocery. Because you whomp 'em on the counter to open the tube. And chemicals spew forth everywhere. Ew.) and make yer own. Seriously. A bag of self-rising flour, butter or shortening and buttermilk or sweet milk, and you have biscuits. Homemade fluffy golden biscuits! The trick to speeding up the process is that you make drop biscuits rather than rolled and cut. Granted, drop biscuits often aren't so easy to cut in half, but with a little finesse, your rounded spoonful of dough will yield a respectably round biscuit.

Simple Drop Biscuits

2-1/2 c. self-rising flour
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. butter, cut into pats
1-1/4 c. buttermilk or milk

Preheat oven to 425F. Mix flour and sugar in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal (don't worry, a few larger bits of butter are ok. "Cutting in" just means that you're chopping the butter into tiny pieces and mixing it evenly with the flour). Stir in milk and mix just until you have a soft dough. Drop dough by rounded spoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet, leaving about an inch between biscuits. Bake about 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Makes about a dozen biscuits that should be eaten hot with more butter, and honey or jam.

Or even better, sausage gravy!

Okay, I know that wasn't on tonight's menu...

(Recipe adapted from the one that appears on the back of the Gold Medal Self-rising Flour bag.)

Go listen to some good music: "The Middle" from the album Jimmy Eat World by Jimmy Eat World. It just takes some time...Must. Get. Out. Of. Here. Were it was so easy.

02 August 2010

A day in the life

Woman Stabbed During Carjacking

I only shop at this particular grocery a couple of times per year and only if I'm in the neighborhood for another reason. I am saddened by this crime, but not at all surprised. For the last eighteen months or so, I've been approached by people looking for money or trouble nearly every time I leave the house.

The problem has been particularly bad in grocery store parking lots and the stores themselves. I've been hit up for cash in the frozen food aisle at one of the groceries where I customarily shop. The same woman using the same story has approached me multiple times, in different parking lots, at different times of day. For a time, large numbers of people were hanging out in one store's lot, conversing between cars, staring at people going in and out of the store. I have actually been chased across the parking lot by people trailing behind me, yelling, "Wait, wait, I need some money!"

Wait? Really?

I know this makes me sound heartless, but I'm not. We give regularly--money, food and supplies--to the local rescue mission, and we donate clothing and toiletries to a charity that tries to get the jobless back into the workforce, not to mention the charity that we support with food bags for homeless children.

The weirdest part about the woman I see in the parking lot and the man in the frozen food aisle is that they appear to have been coached. Their stories sound as if they've been memorized from scripts and are similar in theme and lengthiness. They are set pieces, and the woman I see so frequently never varies in what she says. It's creepy, but it also enrages me: if someone is coaching these folks on how to beg, it sets up situations like that which occurred in Orange this morning. I know people who will still stop to give money to someone who is begging, and they become distracted and unwary, and therefore, vulnerable. A lot of us, women in particular, were raised to be nice, polite, and caring for our fellow humans. So we listen to the pleas rather than walk immediately away; we try to help.

The police haven't said yet exactly what happened between the woman who was stabbed and the man who assaulted her. Another woman at the same grocery where the incident occurred said she had been approached by a man who was panhandling. Whatever the case, we've definitely noticed an increase in violent carjackings, purse snatchings and armed robberies of items as small as iPods.

Fortunately, the police have caught the suspect, but it's another cautionary tale: be vigilant wherever you are and whatever you're doing.

Go listen to some good music: "A Day in the Life" from the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles.

01 August 2010

Fashion

This started out life as "Lookie! I bought new boots for fall!" and then promptly turned into:

"[soapbox] While we're at, can I just request that someone kill the animal print trend? It's ghastly and embarrassing. It screams menopausal, even more when it's in shades of pink and blue and purple. [/soapbox]"

I guess that's my quandry. I'm not menopausal (yet), but I'm either expected to dress like my mother-in-law (she's 80), or my daughter (she's 13), or like I'm on the prowl, and I don't find any of those alternatives appealing.

I mean leggings? Yeah, I can wear them. But, sheesh, I wore them the last time they were in style. That's not retro, that's redux, and it's just wrong. Or certainly feels that way. I could wear a mini-skirt, too, which I haven't since grad school.

Whoops, here I go getting all ranty again. So...

Lookie! I bought new boots!




















Børn Crown 'Yolanda' Mid Calf Boot
Nordstrom.com

Yes! Adorable!

(And yeah, after over three years of service, the Danskos are starting to look a little worse for the wear. But I love those boots. Oh, those boots have seen some walking...)

And now, perhaps I should slink quietly away before I start in on the lack of charm in weirdly embellished burnout t-shirts and long, baggy sweaters...

Go listen to some good music: "Fashion" from the album Scary Monsters by David Bowie. Yeah! Scary monsters. Look, I'm a jeans and t-shirt kinda girl (but not men's t-shirts). Or jeans and a polo. I want comfortable. Flattering. Age appropriate, whatever that means these days. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY TIMES I'VE BEEN CARDED THIS SUMMER? And no, I don't consider it a compliment. I consider it confusion.