Monday, February 27, 2006

On Being a Girl

So today as I'm going into the ladies' room to rustle me up a (ahem) feminine product, I hold the door for someone coming in behind me. She thanks me, introduces herself, and asks me if I'm new and I say yes, I've been working here about two months now. "Do you like it?" she asks.

"Yes, I love it!" I respond. "Although," laughing ruefully, "they apparently don't keep the tampon machine stocked!"

The other woman laughs and says, "I'd give you one, but since I got my IUD I don't have periods anymore."

"Really!" I exclaim, surprised. "I have an IUD and mine are if anything heavier."

"Oh," she says, "I have Mirena, the kind with the hormones. You should check into it. I really love it."

"I'll have to ask my doctor about it," I say. "Mine's due to come out in a couple years here."

So there you are: two strangers moving from introducing ourselves, to talking about what we've got up our respective hoo-hahs, in 15 seconds flat.

That, boys, is why you will never understand us.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Getting Our Feet Wet

How many times can I write about how great it is to be back in Austin before everybody gets sick of it and tells me to shut up already?

Many more times, I imagine, than if I had more than two or three readers.

I took the booter to Pease Park today. She enjoyed the playscape, I enjoyed the scattered groups of people with guitars & harmonicas; we swung on the swings and climbed on the playscape, and in yet another "yay Austin" moment, I reveled in noticing that one dad (or dad-adjunct) just happened to be wearing a kilt. Not a formal one, just a casual black one with hip pockets - kind of the kilt equivalent of Bermuda shorts, I guess - but unmistakably a kilt. Do you think you'd see that in Corpus? Well, you wouldn't. (And before you ask, no, I didn't get a chance to see if he had on anything underneath.)

She liked Shoal Creek the best. We clambered down the bank - neither one of us really appropriately shod for the excursion - and splashed around among the rocks for an hour or so. Groups of Frisbee golfers passed across the creekbed now and again, but for the most part we had it to ourselves. It's a gorgeous day and the park was full of people, so it was pretty cool to be all alone in an isolated little world of trees, rocks, and barely more than a trickle of stream. On a day like today it's hard to imagine that peaceful little creek bursting its banks and flooding Lamar Blvd.

She'd happily have stayed down there much longer, splunking the biggest rocks she could pick up into the water; but once I urged her homeward, Miss Boundless Energy was suddenly much too tired to walk under her own power. Lugging 45 pounds of limp kid halfway down the length of Pease Park really lets you know your day is about over.

It's so nice to be back in Austin. Did I mention that already?

Cats: Cuddly Pets, or Stinky Buttlickers?

Silly question. The answer, of course, is "both."

They also should certainly not be on the table; however, considering how much other crap is on there, some confusion is understandable.

Isn't Princess Peach a pretty girl?

Friday, February 24, 2006

MYOB Mentality

There was a bad scene on the hike-and-bike today.

I'm not sure what exactly went down, but as I walked past the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue I saw a woman on the trail 20 feet or so ahead of me, bending down towards something on the ground with her arm extended. The "something" on the ground moved and arose and I saw it was another woman, who had been flat on her face on the trail, standing up as the first woman helped her. The two moved to the grass and a bench beside the trail as I came alongside, and I saw two dogs, wearing harnesses and leashes, casually sniffing around each other close by.

As I was passing the second woman shouted, "What are you gonna do - give me a massage?!?" Her voice was thick with venom and fury.

The first woman, after an agonized pause, stammered, "I was about to say something, but I was scared!"

That was the little tableau as I walked past. But several feet further down the trail, I heard an incoherent yell from the angry woman, and the other one cried, "No, no, no," and sounded as if she were sobbing.

When is it appropriate to interfere in someone else's business to offer assistance? Where's the line between officious interference and neighborly help?

My uneducated guess is that the two women were strangers, walking their dogs, and that somehow the first woman's dog was responsible for tripping up the second woman. It seemed pretty clear that whatever happened was an accident, and that the second woman's reaction was incredibly out of line, especially considering the first woman's obvious contrition and concern for her well-being. I'm assuming the "massage" remark was probably in reaction to the first woman asking if there was anything she could do to help. The altercation was loud enough that a couple of people several feet ahead of me on the trail were turning around to look.

Damn it, I really feel as if I should have turned around and gotten involved to... to do what? My interference would certainly have pissed off Angry Woman further. But I hate to think of poor First Woman facing that ordeal alone. Believe me, if you'd been there... I can't imagine having someone just yell at me like that. I'd be a wreck. I'd be telling my therapist about it for years.

I wish I could've at least given First Woman a hug and a reassurance that she didn't deserve that treatment, if only once Scary-Ass Bitch was gone. By the time I passed by the spot again, on the inbound portion of my walk, both of them had left.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Shot in the Dark

Those who read the Austin Chronicle (and who doesn't?) know these ads well.

Don't you? Do you deny it? Do you, or do you not, secretly scan through them in hopes that someone has been overcome by your charms? I sure do. And to date, do you believe, no one has?? Shocking, I know.

And really, come on. I'm reasonably attractive, and I leave the house and go out into public almost every day. Come on, people, what does it take?

Okay, boys, here's what I want to see:
You: ravishing redhead on the hike-and-bike trail at lunchtime.
Me: Cute, funny, brilliant, witty, wonderful, musical guy, preferably large, fair and bearded, but could also be that slim, dark intellectual type with the little round glasses, fun and crazy, with an immense... sense of adventure.
Darling, let me whisk you away from your mundane existence to my palatial home in that awesome neighborhood up the hill west of Pease Park - you know, the one with that castle house, the one that was built around an old stone water tower?

Why, in fact, that's actually my house.

Don't tell my husband, but I might answer that one.

Most of the ads are fairly mundane, if rather poignant. Some chick at a restaurant thought that her waiter was the tastiest dish on the menu, but didn't get up the nerve to ask him out; so she goes back but he's not working there anymore. Or two people hooked up at a bar, but he lost her phone number before he could call her, so he's stuck with the terrible double-whammy of not being able to get in touch with her while realizing she must think he's an A#1 bastard.

Then there are the ones that you just know have no hope whatsoever: two people made accidental eye contact in a crowd but the target of the ad had left before the placer of the ad could reach him or her; or two people have broken up and lost touch, and one of them is interested in maybe getting back together - these ads fairly brim over with false hope and wishful thinking, and range from "not very likely" to "put on yer pajamas, cause you're dreaming!"

Here's a real one I found particularly intriguing:
You: Striking girl with beauty marks wearing long, silver "choker" necklace and sitting outside on Spiderhouse patio reading Chronicle letters about the "Family Planning" cover to your friend. You said you wanted a Shot in The Dark and mentioned wanting to see Curious George. Me: Nosy guy in overalls typing Shot in The Dark to you as you speak. Yea, so I was eavesdropping... :)

It was on the patio, not of Spider House, but of Romeo's, that a couple of weeks ago I was reading the letters about the "Family Planning" cover aloud to my husband, and went from that to talking about the Shot in the Dark ads; so when I scanned over that ad I thought at first that I'd finally got one! I must have a mental twin somewhere, although in my case I'm pretty sure Curious George didn't enter into the conversation. I wonder if she answered this guy's ad?

For now I'll just keep checking, though when I get one it'll probably end up being something more like this:
You: steamy redhead toweling off in your apartment.
Me: drooling pervert with telescope.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Dog Eats Dog; Film at 11

There should be a special circle of Hell reserved for people who go on Oprah to promote their books about how they overcame adversity through determination and courage. And every time an excerpt is reprinted in Reader's Digest, they get another red-hot poker up the tuckus.

Specifically, I'm thinking cancer survivors here, though the same principle applies to anyone fortunate enough to survive any dread disease, freak accident, or other disaster, who then goes on and on about how "I took one look at my children's faces and knew I'd never let cancer get me!"

Gotta love the plane crash stories, too, where everyone on board dies a horrible fiery death; and the one person who was prevented by some random circumstance from boarding says the experience has reaffirmed his faith in God.


I once interviewed for a job as executive assistant to a noted local breast cancer survivor and car dealership owner, shortly before I started working for the Hell place. She'd gone on Oprah with her inspiring story about how she broke the gender barrier in automotive sales and rose to the top despite having to deal with divorce, single motherhood, and breast cancer and a mastectomy. Even after everything I went through at Hell Marketing, I'm still glad I didn't get that job. The prospective boss was, in fact, charming and personable (successful salespeople generally are, the soulless bastards). She interviewed me in her gorgeously appointed office, replete with plush carpeting, decorator colors, expensive furniture, and tasteful paintings in gilded frames. She did not, in fact, have a copy of her book on display in her office - a fact I noted with surprised approval, which she forfeited midway through the interview by pulling a copy out of her desk drawer and telling me all about it. I didn't know at the time that breast cancer would very soon take my mom away, so I smiled and listened politely.

She had no computer. Run away, little applicant! Run away! I heard the woman she eventually hired ended up walking out after a few weeks.

I'm sorry to rant about this; but my sister-in-law has been both making and receiving a lot of comments about how she'll beat leukemia because she's strong, she's no weakling, she's not a quitter - and, quite honestly, I find the premise behind that kind of comment a bit hurtful. Obviously I'm pulling hard for her to get better, and I'm happy to say that her prognosis is very good. And I don't really have that much of a problem with people making such remarks to someone who's sick, to encourage them and keep their spirits up - no - someone facing what my sister-in-law is facing needs all the pep talk and encouragement and support and well-wishes and prayers and good vibes and mojo and crossed appendages that she can get. It's just when those comments solidify into attitudes that continue after the danger has passed that it becomes seriously offensive to me.

Well! I'll certainly be in a dilly of a pickle when Oprah calls me up to go promote my blog on her show.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Life's Too Short...

...for lousy coffee.

I want my 97 cents and my .0002 mil of stomach lining back.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I'll Always Have Bob Jones

Wait a minute - what year is this again? 2006?!?

Ah do declare, Ah have a high school 20-year reunion coming up this summer.

If they can find me, that is. Did I mention I went to Bob Jones High School, Bob Jones HS, in Madison, Alabama, Madison, AL, Class of 1986, Class of '86, Class of 86?

Not for nothing did I work in Internet marketing for two years.

My high school was NOT named for renowned nutcase Bob Jones, thankyouverymuch. No, my high school was named for a long-time U.S. Representative. He spoke at our commencement ceremonies. I'd planned to conclude this paragraph by quipping that he was a much less renowned nutcase, but according to the link I'm posting he seems to have been, actually, fairly progressive. So how about that.

The school building pictured in the link above is handsome, isn't it? That's not where I went. We were located in a prefabricated metal warehouse shell of a building on Hughes Road - 1301 if I remember correctly, which I probably don't - next to the old Hughes farmhouse. Madison was still mostly cotton fields then.

The building had some partitions inside, but almost no actual rooms. Around the edges, you could see that the metal shell was slightly larger than the carpeted concrete slab that was our floor. A little grass grew in, and occasionally some little crawly thing would find its way in and put the boys' teenaged chivalry to the test. (Teenaged chivalry has always consisted largely of squashing things.) The building didn't have any windows, but I suspect that was less due to educational philosophy at the time it was built (that an outside view would distract students) and more because they would have cost extra money to put in.

Oddly, the JROTC department had rooms: two classrooms and an office. Being armed certainly has its advantages... Many of us kids took JROTC. My best friend Amy and I did it to get out of PE, not because we were all that averse to physical activity, but because the girls' PE teacher would have made your average grizzled drill sergeant wet his pants and beg for Mommy. (Ms. H., if you're reading this, I really hope you take it as a compliment. I'm pretty sure that's the effect you were going for.)

Anyway, if you were a girl, JROTC was basically free period. For most of the year the boys did all the army-type stuff and the girls helped the lieutenant colonel out with paperwork. A charming, dapper man, our Lt. Col., but not what you'd call a raving feminist.

The sergeant was a witty, witty man. One day during class he was overcome with his muse and began walking around the room making bon mots about the last names of the students. "We got a Small - we need a large. We got a Kitchens - we need a bathroom. We got a Holloway - we need a stairway."

The poor man really needed a blog.

Well, I'm psyched as anything and can't wait for the festivities! But mercy me! Ah have just absolutely nothing to wear!

My taste in interior decor runs more to white muslin sheers than heavy green velvet draperies. That should make for an interesting reunion.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Spring is in the Air?

Thank goodness it's miserably freezing in Corpus today too, otherwise I might regret the move.

Ha ha! No I wouldn't. I never will. Hell, at this point, my life could fall apart and everything could go wrong and I would still refuse to regret the move, purely as a matter of principle.

Why not? That seems to be the way so many people operate...

You know your blog's headed south (no pun intended*) when you feel so desperate to post a day's entry that you write about the weather. I mean, come on. The weather? But you gotta admit that weather is weird. Thursday was a gorgeous, low-80's day. I took my lunchtime walk on the hike-and-bike trail and reveled in the sweet sense of newness and hope, bursting forth in a glorious promise of spring buds, just beginning to appear fresh and green on the branches.

Suckaz! It's been in the 30s all weekend.

In happier news, Woode Wood was kind enough to give me a heads-up that my beloved Stereolab is coming to La Zona Rosa March 24. Yeeeee! Squeeeeee!!!! Jumping about and bouncing off things!!!!!!!!!!! I love Stereolab! Love them. I think I might love them as much as I do Bach... I know, heresy; and I understand that many music aficionados are thereby required by Federal law to beat me over the head with a rubber fish for saying so. But I do, I love them. The intricacy of line and harmony, the warmth, the seamless marriage of innovation and tradition, the silky vocals, the precision, the beauty - I will say it's Bachlike; I will. Try and stop me. And you know what? You can't argue with me, because I moderate comments.

As an added bonus, late March weather in Austin is generally spectacular.

*Here you say, "None taken." God, I'm funny.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Cancer: I'm against it

Well, I guess they can't all be funny...

I've just been reading through my sister-in-law's blog about fighting leukemia. They've collected a couple of metric buttloads of stem cells from my husband, and she's going into the hospital tomorrow for intensive radiation. Basically the procedure (as I understand it) is to kill off all her defective bone marrow, then replace it with shiny new marrow grown from his stem cells. She'll be in the hospital for about a month.

And after the monster horrible ordeal is over? She's going to be okay, oh yes she is. She'd damn well better be, otherwise many of us, including her family, friends, and the readers of her extremely entertaining and well-written blog, are going to be PISSED.

I hate cancer. If you wanted proof that there was no God, look no further. Or at least if you wanted to disprove the "intelligent design" "theory." I'll give you semi-competent design, at best. I'd add that maybe God is a government employee, but I'm pretty sure that would be unconstitutional.

My sister-in-law, along with most of her family and probably most of her friends, are religious, so I'll just shut up about that, and send unqualified heretical well-wishes her way. Hang in there, Debby. Even godless heathens love you.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Pity the Child-Free

No, I mean it. And not in that smarmy, condescending way that so many parents have: "Oh, you'll never know the tender joy of holding your own infant in your arms! You'll never experience the transcendence of knowing that your bloodlines are passed on forever! You'll never..." And so on.

Please! Screw that noise. You think any of that really matters? Ha! No, the greatest joy in life, the joy that the child-free can never know, is that of having someone near and dear, another human life, your own flesh and blood, and being able to make merciless fun of that person and she or he cannot do anything about it.

Please understand that I am in no way advocating abuse, unless by "abuse" you mean, maybe, emotional or psychological - but let's not pick nits here. I just mean that your kid is someone at whose expense you can have a great deal of fun. That's all!

My mom was a pro at this. I have a favorite story I tell about her. I was 15 and not at my most self-confident (to put it fairly mildly). I liked - or, to be perfectly honest, Mom liked for me - a boy in the high school class a year ahead of me: quiet, brainy, well-bred, of a respectable engineering family. His name was (and may indeed still be) Ben, and he worked at Madison Books & Computers, a little place that had stumbled upon the brilliant marketing idea of targeting the gaggle of new engineering and computer techies that descended upon Huntsville, Alabama in the early-to-mid 80s.

(Someday I will see a brilliant marketing idea and it will not set nerves to singing in every fiber of my being. That will be the day that I know I have become, at last, a true government employee, and have purged the last filthy taint of sales and marketing from my system.)

Well, every Saturday, I would practice my fledgling driving skills by heading off in our family's 1980 Honda Accord with Mom to the bookstore. She would peruse the shelves and I would, in my feeble, pubescent way, attempt to chat up Ben at the check-out counter. Did I mention this was all Mom's idea in the first place?

It's important that I stress this point, because it really shows up the parental cruelty that she exhibited in walking up one day, when I was talking to Ben about the difficulty of learning to drive on a stick shift (I had gear-shifting down, but starting up in first, you know, the car tended to lurch forward and stall out if you didn't let out the clutch just exactly so): "Yeah, you've probably noticed my daughter jerking off in the parking lot."

At this point I'll let you know that there's a tone of voice your children will employ when you've succeeded in embarrassing them so completely that they will need to join the federal Witness Protection Program and begin life afresh in another state - or if you've done a really smashing job, another country. This is the wonderful, musical sound that will come to your ears:


So get to stepping, you child-free freaks. You think being smug and self-righteous about not contributing to overpopulation or other problems of the world economy is fun? You don't know anything.

I refer you to a timeless Stephen Schwartz lyric from Leonard Bernstein's Mass:

God said that sex should repulse
Unless it leads to results
And so we crowd the world
Full of consenting adults
(Full of consenting adults),
And it was good!

*Unless you're a dad. Mileage may vary.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

How to Sexually Harass Humans: Some Pointers

I've just spent two days in new employee orientation and I have to say - do you ever wonder about Human Resources? I can't help but think they haven't quite got the human thing down. Maybe they should change the name of the department to Martian Resources and be done with it.

Just look at these pictures from a brochure on workplace sexual harassment:

Am I seriously missing something here? You know, for years I've dreaded passing construction sites. I never dreamed that all I had to do was give the construction workers a taste of their own medicine (and for anyone who doesn't know what I look like, the chick on the left is clearly me).

Or perhaps I've misinterpreted the situation here. Maybe these two women have sensitively observed that their male coworker is a little down in the dumps today, so they're calling out words of encouragement to him.*

Of course, not all workplace unpleasantness is sexual in nature. There's a reason I keep a tin of Altoids on my desk.

This guy clearly has never seen Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo. Trading sexual favors for monetary rewards is a zany laugh riot and you never end up actually having to sleep with anyone you don't want to.

And frankly, with his fashion sense, he's lucky anyone's interested. A blue bow tie? I mean, really?!?

Sexual harassment is the least of this woman's problems. Unless she's in a quid-pro-quo situation where her boss has told her she only gets a computer if she puts out.

I guess maybe that's a common situation on whatever planet Human Resources is from.

*Such as "Hubba hubba!" and "Hey, baby! How much for a mustache ride?"

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Feel the Love!

For the second Valentine's Day running, my husband ordered flowers to be delivered to me at work, and the florist didn't show. Last year they called me at work about 6:30pm to say they were running behind, and would just deliver to me at home later in the evening - eventually arriving close to 10.

You'd think a professional in the business of marketing love tokens would have a better understanding of basic human psychology!

Courtship is as at least as much about territoriality as it is about love. The wife, brainwashed by years of Hallmark card commercials and Lifetime Movie Network, thinks her husband sends flowers as a gesture of devotion. But he does it primarily to demonstrate her unavailability to her male coworkers.

Not to notify them of his existence, mind you. Unless his wife is, quite frankly, a bit of a skeaze, her close male coworkers are probably already aware that she's spoken for. No, the purpose of the ostentatious display of flowers at the woman's workplace is to let her coworkers know that the man in her life is involved, that he's a presence, that he's a force to be reckoned with. That he's paying attention, basically.

Listen, what I'm trying to get across here is that if you want to save a chunk of change, you should just drive to your wife's office and mark her cubicle walls with urine. It's not quite as civilized as flowers, but the intent and the effect are pretty much the same.

It's hard to be a hopeless romantic in this day and age, but I manage, I manage.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Thermy Sez:

"It's safe to bite when the temperature is right!"

Well, yes. I suppose it is.

I found this gem on the ground beef I cooked up in our Hamburger Helper* tonight. Frankly, I'm not entirely sure what to think. Aside from the digital temperature readout inside his mouth, Thermy is old-school, dawg.

No, older school.

The marketing philosophy behind this little icon is fairly interesting. Marketing gurus say, Retro is cool! Retro is homey! Retro is comfy and appealing!

Well, I guess. Marketing gurus say we want ground beef packaging that suggests it dates from 1954? Are you sure 160 degrees Fahrenheit will be hot enough?

Also somewhat troubling is the fact that Thermy appears to be suffering. He's perspiring heavily, something I personally would kind of prefer my kitchen implements didn't do. He's mopping futilely at himself with a large polka-dot handkerchief. His eyes have a frantic glaze to them. Jesus. What kind of a heartless bastard ARE you, anyway?!?

I really wanted to blame Albertson's for this bit of iconic ghastliness. I'm pissed at them because I bought a bag of whole-bean coffee there this week; when I opened the bag it had almost no aroma, and when I brewed the stuff it tasted like wet cardboard. This is actually fairly typical of my experiences with them. Their prices are slightly higher than HEB's, and their stuff isn't ever quite as fresh. I only go there because it's not crowded, whereas HEB is generally a madhouse. Well - yeah.

Unfortunately, it looks like this particular campaign falls squarely on the shoulders of the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. When you get down to it, this is unsurprising. I'm just coming into government work after a couple of years in marketing. I can believe that the combination of the two would be a little... off.

And speaking of a little off, what's that strange smell...?

Hey - does your stomach ache at all?

*Jingle: Helps you help your hamburger help itself to help you have a really boring dinner!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

On the Town

It's all about the music! Hooray music!

Caught the Teddy and Marge show last night at The Opera House store at 2209 South First. It's in that little artsy complex behind the metal motorcycle cop statue, radar gun poised, by the corner of S. 1st and Live Oak. The Opera House is a vintage clothing boutique run by a very pretty young woman named Leah, who looks way the hell too young to have her own store.

I got to attend an Attic Ted gig (of which Teddy and Marge is a sub-project) at a party down in there, back on November 1. It was a costume party; and being in the midst of the South Austin arts scene, it was a real doozy. The surprise outcome of the evening was that a dancing Pope did not set himself on fire - that's just the kind of party it was. And if Carlos Castaneda wasn't personally in attendance, he at least sent someone who looks a lot as I imagine he must look, and who follows his teachings very, very closely. Perhaps... a little... too closely.

There was a zombie fashion show planned for after the performance. We bowed out and went for coffee instead. Contrary to instructions, I'd neglected to B my own B; so I wasn't quite up for zombies.

Green Muse Cafe made for nice afters, with a lovely, thick, calorically intense mochaccino, though they disappointed me greatly by having nothing more sinful than a large blueberry muffin to go with it. It's a nice coffeehouse and all, but if they don't have cheesecake, they are but half deserving of the name. In my opinion. (Sigh) Is there anyone else left still old enough to remember when Quack's was located on the Drag, where God Himself intended it should be?

Teddy and Marge are playing in San Marcos Tuesday night. I may go, since the husband's out of town, and at this point it looks like the highlight of my Valentine's Day is going to be the sexual harassment portion of new employee orientation at work.

Gosh! I can hardly wait!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Happy Anniversary!

Today my father and stepmother celebrate their anniversary. I'm so excited, because I remembered! Part of my regular Valentine's Day routine is to remember that their anniversary has just passed and say "D'OH!!"

It's too late to send a physical card, and event-specific e-cards (to my way of thinking) often convey the message, "Hey, I didn't remember in time to send a real card!" But I'd like to write a bit about my parents. Especially as they represent a good 45-60% of my readership.

My father and stepmother were slightly acquainted, actually, in high school in Sodus, New York. His older sister and her older sister were close friends. They grew up, went off to college in separate places, and led completely separate lives, marrying other people and raising other families. But they became reacquainted at a school reunion several years ago, courted, and tied the knot 13 years ago today.

I count both my dad and myself as tremendously lucky. My stepmother is an amazing woman: bright, warm and funny, patient, understanding, sympathetic, generous, gentle, and kind. She's tremendous fun to hang out with because she's a great conversationalist with a wonderful sense of humor. And she's one of those people - you know the type, right? - who sort of light up a room just by being in it.

My dad is not exactly chopped liver himself. He's the most intelligent person I know, and he knows everything. No, really! I'm not just saying that because he's my dad; he really does. Try asking him something if you don't believe me. He's supportive and wise and measured and thoughtful and nurturing. My stepmother, sadly, suffers from MS, and my dad's gentleness in caring for her is a lovely thing to behold.

My dad plays French horn in a local orchestra and plays the piano as well. My stepmother is into crafts - the beautiful handmade greeting cards she creates are real works of art. They complement one another like no other couple I've ever seen and are a day-to-day inspiration for me.

So happy, happy anniversary, Daddy and Joyce! I love you both and am happier than I can say to have such a lovely couple for parents.

Now if I could just make my blog design look a bit more like one of Joyce's cards...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Everybody's a Critic

Anybody catch the Grammys tonight? Man, talk about your majorly craptacular spazz-fest. Is that a form of epilepsy that Mariah Carey has? Is it not at all treatable?? And what about the squeaking?!? Somebody needs to pour a couple quarts of motor oil down that ho before she blows a gasket.

My ex-mother-in-law very kindly (no, I mean that) invited the kids and me over for the evening, to have dinner (which was yummy) and watch the Grammys, which I've never seen before. They were pretty much what I expected. The tribute to Sly and the Family Stone was particularly painful, and did an excellent job of demonstrating that, using only a handful of self-important minor celebrities, a high-tech sound board, a dazzling light show, and a few grand worth of cocaine, you can suck every last drop of soul out of what was a pretty rocking piece of music. Was it just me, or did Sly walk out on it? There was so much squealing and parading around going on up there I couldn't tell for sure. Also, it's possible my brain was hemorrhaging at that point.

Sir Paul, bless his heart, has no voice left anymore. And damn them! They got my hopes all up by giving David Bowie some kind of lifetime achievement award, but he wasn't actually there. (I'd put up with a lot for David... call me!) U2 won lots of awards, which I don't particularly begrudge them. I'd've been kind of pissed if Coldplay had won for that one song that sounds just like that John Mayer song from a few years ago.

Best non sequitir of the evening? When some guy from the Pittsburgh Steelers came out and said, "My dream came true Sunday in Detroit."

Now there's a sentence you don't hear every day.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hot Rods at the Grocery Store

Albertson's has those cool grocery carts with a kiddie car attached to the front. I hate that.

We get to the grocery store, and of course Anna is beside herself with excitement to see those super-duper cool car-carts - a whole row of them! There are a black one and a navy blue one with flame jobs on the sides, a red one with racing stripes, and a hot pink one with butterfly wings.

They don't have those in Corpus - most likely because there's only the one grocery chain in town, so they don't need to take toddler-parent pressure into their marketing considerations.

Is there anything in the world that says, "You're not a desirable, sexually attractive woman anymore - you're a pathetic, matronly bag!" like pushing a giant hot pink plastic car around a grocery store? Personally, I'd have to say no. Honestly. Because in addition to the (cough) stylin' factor, it makes you look like an enormous klutz. Sure, the cart is made to look like a hot rod, but it handles more like a heavily sedated hippopotamus. Just trying to check out, I'm knocking candy bars and gossip magazines off their racks left and right. Not good for my self-image... the fact that I've filled the cart with Hamburger Helper to feed the kids while the ol' ball-and-chain is out of town really doesn't help.

Come to think of it, grocery shopping for the kids, with said kids in tow generally doesn't tie in too well with what I like to think of as my particular... idiom?

It was way more fun grocery shopping before the husband and kids got to town. I bought a lot of baby spinach leaves and field greens and crumbled goat cheese, and batted my eyelids at the college boys, and pretended to be single.

Hell, if I'm going to have a mid-life crisis, what I really need is a sports car.

Monday, February 06, 2006

I am so smart! I am so smart! S-M-R-T!

Well, not smart enough to figure out why this *$&@$*^!#$ PC won't access my Yahoo! Mail login page - or a Hotmail or GMail login page, or MSN Messenger. But I have just discovered that I can get in a back way, through the signup for Yahoo! Photos. So I am not stuck without my email during two weeks while my husband (and, more importantly, his laptop) is in Houston. Wahoo!

He's gone to give stem cells for a bone marrow transplant for his sister, who's suffering from leukemia. I don't know much about this process. Apparently the stem cell technique is fairly new, and as you might imagine, a lot easier on the donor than the old method. He gets a series of shots over several days to boost his stem cell production; then blood is drawn and stem cells grown into marrow, and then the marrow is given to the recipient in what I can only imagine must be a completely horrifying procedure.

There's hope, though, that this will effect a cure. Of her six brothers and sisters (the family's Catholic, okay?) my husband was the only match for the transplant, and a 100% match at that. This is probably just because he's absolutely terrified of needles. The only way this procedure could be scarier for him would be if it involved horses or social awkwardness.

And when the cat's away, the mouse will - will - will not do anything. No, nothing at all!

But I will check my email regularly.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

When I Grow Up

Quick: What's your dream job? You have 2 seconds to answer. I always wanted to be an opera singer, only I hate practicing, and I really can't hit anything above the G above the C above middle C to save my life. (Well - let me rephrase that. I can hit it - you just really, really don't want me to.)

My sister Marjorie is following her bliss, branching out a little and working on a sub-Attic Ted project called Teddy and Marge - take note, o denizens of Austin, that they have some upcoming shows in the next couple of weeks!

Margie rehearses regularly. I am such a schlub.

Failing to be an opera singer, I was very interested for a while in being a midwife. My aunt is a certified nurse-midwife, and my older two kids were born at home with a lay midwife in attendance. Midwifery seems like such good work - unlike, say, marketing.

The culture shock of moving from a sales and marketing, private-sector company to working for the state is largely wearing off, but I notice funny things. People work here for decades.

When I interviewed for my job, my boss told me that the database system they used to have was very difficult and time-consuming, and praised the efficiency and user-friendliness of the new system. He talked about what a difference this recent improvement had made, and how much easier it is now to do the job. It turns out this "new" system was implemented in 1995. Time just runs on a different scale here.

We have all the time in the world - time to get our work done, to answer such emails and phone messages as we receive, to finish everything we need to finish, to take off lunch hours and evenings and weekends and holidays and vacations without having to worry about what was left undone. And this difference from my old employer is ironic, because at my old employer, everyone was so busy - busy chasing down and following up with coworkers who were too busy to answer emails; busy trying to figure out how to do a task for which procedures had never been established; busy trying to come up with more excuses for clients about why yet another deadline had been missed; busy busy busy busy - that everyone routinely put in 50-60 hours or more a week, and yet nothing ever seemed to actually get done, because everyone was just too BUSY.

Compared to that, just about anything I did next would feel like my dream job. But I think I'm doing pretty well. I just really need to find a good musical group to join, or perhaps get stuck in an elevator with a woman in the advanced stages of labor. Man, that would be awesome!