Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Work Avoidance Post

The move has begun. 11 boxes of books have been carted over to the new house, unloaded, and the boxes brought back for repacking (we're a little short of boxes). At this time tomorrow it will all be done.


A slip of paper fell out of a volume of Plato as I was unpacking it. It was purchased for some class at one time or another, so the book is one that has probably changed hands several times. The paper is a promotional sticky note for Arduan (pipecuronium bromide) for injection. Scrawled across it are the words, "Nowhere does Plato say 'why?' communities form but, rather, 'how -' such that one must glean the 'why?' from the 'how'"

What a pretentious git.

Some particularly excellent news is that, previously unbeknownst to us, the house has a cat door in the back! Oh frabjous day! Actually, it's a dog door, and not for a small dog either. In fact a reasonably small cat burglar would fit through comfortably. So having said that, I guess I won't publish my new address here, as I had originally planned.

There is also, for a reason I have not yet deduced, a small, slanted, well-concealed pass-through from the bathroom closet into the closet of Eric's room. Katie insisted that no one tell Eric. I think she's making plans for her next sleepover. Perhaps the architect was a teenaged girl with an annoying older brother, I don't know.

If there's internet access tomorrow, there should be pictures tomorrow. Because, you know, tomorrow this will all be done!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Daddy's Girl

For anyone who doesn't know this, I really love my dad, a lot. He's measured and sensible and very unusually kind; highly intelligent and clear-minded; calm and logical, fair, and resourceful; musical and creative; and many other excellent qualities. He's also always right about everything. I am not kidding! Who else do you know who can do that?

He's also rigorously organized and plans carefully for every contingency. It turns out those genes are recessive.

T minus two days to the move. There are four boxes packed - encyclopedias and some video games. Anna, who is apparently a genetic throwback, took care of the video games, neatly filling every square inch of space in the box. These four boxes are not the only boxes we have. Au contraire! (My dad speaks French.) We have another twenty or so, propped up against the wall. We do not, at this particular juncture in time, have any packing tape, which I think would be helpful in alleviating their current, flat condition.

I actually find I function best under very - very - tight deadlines. Adrenaline and caffeine are wonder fuels; doing things in a rational, timely fashion has never really worked for me. My dad really tried to bring me up properly. He tried teaching me to balance a budget, to plan meals, to develop good study habits, not to accumulate more cats than I can manage, to use good judgement, and not make completely idiotic decisions on a regular basis. And, rampaging success though I have not turned out to be at these things, he continues to act as if I were the most perfect daughter anyone could hope for.

Home is a little bit extra-stressful right now, which adds yet another layer of appreciation for the people in my life who don't think I just totally suck. So here's to my dad: I love you! Want to come down and visit a couple of weeks early so you can help me move?

Monday, January 29, 2007

The Rear End

My cloth diaper site is gone (sigh). closed for business a long time since, but for some reason, was still there just a couple of months ago, though I hadn't updated the site or paid any hosting fees for a few years. I suppose the host finally caught it and took it down. The service was a one-man operation, I believe - and not a tremendously well-organized man, at that.

I'm trying to get rid of seven large plastic bins full of fabric before the move. It would be lovely if I could actually get paid something in the process, seeing as how there's probably about $500-600 worth there and I'm only asking $75. It's been sitting for three years, used only when Katie gets bored and drags some of it out and cuts it up and makes stupid things out of it - an activity, like stealing my makeup or hair accessories or drooling on my computer keyboard, that I eventually gave up protesting because she's just way, hay, hay the hell more perseverant than I am.

I posted it on craigslist and tried to send a link to my site to an inquirer tonight, since I had pictures of all the fabric prints on it, and discovered it finally gone.

Lilybottoms were special. People posted positive reviews about them on and the mothering dot commune diapering forums. I felt famous.

Who else ever made gold lamé diapers?

I'm Missing Break!

I wonder if the feeling is mutual?

My father-in-law came to town today and took a couple of his offspring and offspring-adjuncts to lunch at Kerbey Lane. I thought the pear and bacon grilled cheese sandwich with sweet potato fries would be good. But no.

There are now three days left until we move. You know, somebody should really take all this stuff and pack it into boxes. I'm hopeful that, over the course of the next few days, somebody will. I asked off work on moving day, and unfortunately it was granted; I was really hoping to spend that day in my comfortable cube at work, checking the weather periodically, and perhaps giving a sympathetic wince if it was raining. But no, I will apparently have to be directly involved. I'll probably break a nail, too.

If I'd only followed through on this idea! But I suppose it's not too late to hurry over to the new house and line it completely with Saran Wrap.

Maybe tomorrow at break.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

7 Wonders, Or: How To Piss Off Egyptians

They've pitted the Pyramids of Giza against that big creepy Brazilian Jesus statue in a high-school-esque popularity contest for world landmarks! And the Egyptians are pissed. Can you really blame them?

Too bad write-ins aren't allowed. Anyway, hurry up and vote. You've only got 159 days left!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Open Letter

Dearest IKEA,

You know I love you, but if you keep referring to a chaise longue as a chaise lounge, I am going to have to lay the smack down on you.

It's French. It means "long chair." The fact that you lounge around on one has no bearing on the name whatsoever.

Please refrain from making this mistake in next year's catalogue.

Love and kisses,

P.S. Also, in the return policy, you've spelled the possessive "its" with an apostrophe. Why don't you just run your fingernails down a chalkboard while you're at it? Are you trying to make me crazy?!?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Don't Tell Anybody

I really, really, really, really, really love this song. Well, except for the extremely cheesy brass segment, and the overly visible socks. But you can't blame the 80s completely on OMD.

I know you were wanting to.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Take It Off

Hey, Austinites! How many different businesses do you recall occupying the site of the now-closed LaBare? I can name four more without even trying.

LaBare was the first business to thrive in that location, so it stands to reason that the city had to shut it down. Not a moment too soon, either; I imagine that we were within a hair's-breadth of being overrun by marauding gangs of drunken bachelorettes, leering at the innocent state employees in the neighboring building, making inappropriate remarks to the students at the School for the Deaf, and pantsing the joggers on the hike-and-bike trail. We should all thank the powers that be that we have been saved from such a terrible fate. We should be on our knees. You know - thanking them.

But we're left with the problem of a vacant piece of prime real estate that has never been able to sustain any of the businesses that have occupied it. What to do? It's for sale now, and I have a few ideas.

Actually, all my ideas involve the building being purchased by the neighboring state agency, largely because no one else can park there during business hours. This won't happen, because said state agency is, how shall we say? Ah yes. Cheap-ass bastards! But we can use our imaginations.

It could serve as itinerant housing for those who might otherwise be forced to live out of their vehicles - and don't think that doesn't happen! Or the employees, I'm sure, could really use an on-site gym. After the outlay for the building, the state would probably only be able to shell out for a rickety old Schwinn exercycle from the nearest pawn shop, but it would be better than nothing. If we left all the stages and poles and smoke machines, someone with past experience in the field could teach a class on exotic dancing, which builds excellent leg muscles.

Or it could be rededicated as a detention facility. Employees are forever getting into all sorts of crazy trouble. Whether they're obsessively stalking their coworkers, or using the internet to look at something besides the weather, or finagling half a department into attending a sales pitch under the guise of teambuilding, these people are a wacky bunch who should really be forced to stay after work and make reparations now and again.

Here again, the nudie bar setup of the facility could be put to good use. Miscreants could be forced to watch fellow state employees put on a floor show. More terrifyingly, some of us might be required to give lap dances to people we'd just as soon not give lap dances to. I for one would never playfully log into my friends' Scotland Yard accounts again.

There's a suggestion box next to the employee entrance, but for some reason they never address any of my ideas.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

They're Watching You

They have this silly piece of software at work called Scotland Yard, or Sherlock Holmes, or Sherwood Forest. Whatever. It's this stupid electronic dot-board on the network server where you sign in and out. You can look at everyone else's name to see where they are, and of course management can run reports to see what time people sign in and out, how long they are away, etc.

It was already in place when I started, but I don't think it had been around for very long. Just long enough that most people have managed to come up with, and obtain official sanction for, excuses not to use it.

In addition to In or Out, there are icons for Lunch, Dr. Appointment, Vacation, Out Sick, In a Meeting, In the Field, Training, etc. There's even a restroom icon. But our employer doesn't use that one. Who would?!? They'd need to add an icon for "at an interview for a job where they don't make us use this stupid program."

I'm pretty sure that's where my supervisor usually is.

Most people don't bother setting a password and just leave it as the default, which is their first initial and last name. You can log into their accounts and change their status to "Working From Home" and type amusing comments. But it turns out this is not as good an idea as it sounds like, because Scotland Yard is no laughing matter.

There isn't a break icon, though there's a general "away from my desk" one we are technically supposed to use for that purpose. As if! Maybe if the icon were a picture of three martinis, I'd think about it. As it is, I see no particular need to call any more attention to my breaks than I already do, what with me being the Break Fairy and all, making the rounds of the department, scattering my glitter dust and singing my siren call to cast off the bonds of toil and drudgery for (ahem) fifteen minutes or so, twice a day.

Pay no attention to the security camera trained on the break area.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Get a Job You Damn Dirty Hippie

I submitted my first job application at work today!

Within the agency, of course. It's the one thing besides checking the weather that you're allowed to do online.

I'm a latecomer to the job-grazing scene, though. Most of my cohorts apply for other jobs almost reflexively, like sneezing. Some of them might do it without even noticing. Yet very few of them actually get these jobs, to the point where I wonder if the agency has a clandestine policy of not hiring state employees.

More likely, those state employees who apply for lots of other jobs are demonstrating ambition - not a quality the state holds in particularly high regard.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my supervisor abruptly summoned me to my one-year performance evaluation today with just under 30 minutes' notice. And I thought I was impulsive! Embarrassingly, the review was extremely good, as far as I can tell just because people say I am cooperative and friendly and pleasant to deal with. But what do I actually do?!

If I get an interview for this other position, I'll be sure to ask if organizing breaks and happy hours, knowing lots about the weather, and browsing job postings would go on my performance plan. I do all of these things with energy and enthusiasm. I'd be perfect!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

P**** in a Box

Step One: Leave a box on the floor.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Artificial Mood Enhancers

Mournful weather like this is very depressing, isn't it? Does it bring you down too? I have a favorite episode of Father Ted where a suicidally depressed priest comes to visit the somewhat shallow Ted, who is enjoying the song "Shaft" too much to pay attention to his cohort's troubles. Fortunately, "Shaft" is such a righteously excellent song that just hearing it for a few minutes is enough to raise the unhappy priest's spirits completely; he leaves Ted's parochial house and goes on his way a healed and happy man.

But as he boards the bus to leave, the driver turns on the radio, which is playing Radiohead's "Exit Music (For a Film)." By the fourth bar of the song, the priest's face has collapsed into an expression of bleak and utter despair.

That's me all over, except that I can no longer hear that song without giggling.

But this weather is miserable: it's cold, it's still, it's depressingly drizzly, and it feels as if I can't get warm no matter how high the heater's turned up. Having large picture windows - undoubtedly the cheapest money could buy - in every room is probably the crux of that problem. I need some warmth and sunshine. Early this morning, I lay awake and listened to the soft, resigned patter of chilly raindrops on the window and heard in them another sad song:

Goodbye to spring, and all it meant to me,
It can never bring the thing that used to be,
For it must be you, or no one...
And so I'm through with love.

Setting the iPod on "happy" would fix everything. But no, I had to leave my headphones at work, didn't I?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Just One More Thing...

Who could bear to leave state employment? And why?

Today was my friend Greg's last day; and a few terse haikus, written for the occasion by my friend Bill, help shed light on the reasons one might seek a job elsewhere:

Daily I move points
Bordering on pointlessness
One point too many.

Work in iPod bliss
Silent manager pops in
What was it you said?

Premeeting meetings
Ten minute subject at most
Hour of my life gone.

One day he will flip
with archeological wrath
Where are the exits?

Computer connects
the Information Highway
check weather, again.

I wonder, if Bill had worked for my former employer, would he have composed some other form of poetry? Epic Norse war sagas, perhaps.

Greg is great fun and we'll all miss him a lot - especially his boss, apparently, who was unusually demanding on his last day of employment with the State. I'd have assumed he'd just be keeping his office chair warm until quitting time, but no. "I have some things for you to work on today," his boss told him. And, this afternoon, when I swung by to get him for break, his boss was in his cube with him, looking deeply engrossed in the task at hand. "I think he was toying with me," confided Greg when he stopped into my office late this afternoon to say goodbye.

We'll miss him, but I guess we should all be glad he found the exit.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The First Lost Tooth

I can't believe it's already time for this. I could swear she just grew that tooth not that long ago. The permanent tooth is already visible, coming in slightly behind it, and it's obviously much too big for her mouth. How is she going to fit twenty-eight or thirty-two or forty-seven or however many adult teeth people are eventually supposed to have?

Maybe the Tooth Fairy should leave her a note explaining that instead of a quarter, she's getting an initial payment into her orthodontic fund.

My little tiny baby Anna... wasn't she just in diapers, and nursing, and sticking the ends of my hair up her nose when she got tired? They grow up so fast.

Now when she's tired, she sticks the ends of her own hair up her nose. I guess we all have a few odd habits.

Hope I can remember where I left my fairy dust.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Baby, It's Cold Outside

I wonder if my employer actually generated the winter storm that has inundated us with a very, very, very thin layer of ice. It would make sense in that they could therefore force a lot of employees, still on midwinter-holidays-go-slow mode, and therefore not productive anyway, to burn off a lot of vacation time for which they would otherwise have to be paid at some less convenient date.

But seriously now. Aside from having to scrape off the windshield, which (granted) is a significant pain in the ass, why does a 1/10" layer of ice on a few paved surfaces here and there mean we can't go anywhere?

Oh by the way, do not, I'm told, pour boiling water over the ice to melt it. You will crack your windshield. It will not be good.

When I was at UT, I had a housemate named Jessica, who had lived her whole life in Wisconsin. She couldn't believe we shut down the whole city because of a measly couple mils of ice all over everything. Of course, I think the problem with central Texas is that our humidity and temperature are exactly the ideal combination for accumulating frozen moisture. If it were a little colder, we'd have snow, which is not slippery. A little warmer, and nothing would freeze in the first place. But get it in that exact range where it's warm enough to melt during the day and cold enough to refreeze at night, and it's the rainy season, and voila! You get an ice rink.

And I remember a particularly cold, cold day in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where my family lived when I was in the third grade. I had missed the bus, and set off alone across the gray and empty fields towards Lincoln Elementary School. It was one of those bitter days that are so much colder than the soft, hushed snowy ones: the sky and the ground alike vacant, lifeless, colorless, and silent except for the piercing wind. Anything alive had taken shelter, so I was completely alone until the Lutzes spotted me trudging across their pasture, and brought me inside and gave me hot chocolate and called my mom to come pick me up. We had recently moved there from Austin. Who knew the temperatures could get so killingly low? My toes had big white blotches on them when I took my boots and socks off, and Mom was beside herself.

It'll never be that cold here, thank goodness. It seems pretty wimpy to whine about temperatures in the upper twenties. And when I think about it, my employer can't possibly have any responsibility for the weather. That would be a diabolically clever plan, and therefore not anything the state is at all likely to have come up with on their own; and the chances of their having shelled out money for a consultant to come up with it for them?

Quite a bit lower than the chances of scattered snow showers tomorrow.

Ice Ice Baby

Remind me to fetch Vanilla Ice a good sharp smack upside the head next time I see him. I have never forgiven him for that song.

Well, I suppose there are worse ways to spend a vacation than curling up in bed with an iBook and a big cup of coffee to while away the day. Fortunately I have plenty of time, as even though the city is urging everyone to stay home today, AISD schools and UT have cancelled classes, and most major businesses are closed, my agency's name is noticeably absent from the long list of government agency closures.

From what I understand the reason for this is because there are road crews who have to go out in all weather and it's not fair to them if they give the rest of us, non-essential (perhaps a little too non-essential) office chair-warmers a free ride. But the walkways outside my apartment door are coated with ice, and it's raining, or something, and the temperature is just barely below freezing, so I'm not going anywhere.

Neither are the cats, who are becoming fairly annoyed with me. They keep asking to go outside, and they're really not satisfied with the outside I keep offering them.

The ingrates. I offer them a warm, well-fed, comfortable life, entirely free of bad music (as long as they stay out of Katie's room). They should curl up in bed with me and be happy.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Yet Another "Small Austin" Moment

Get this!

So things thaw out a little and we go to meet our prospective new landlord at Texas French Bread to sign the lease on the cute wee housey, which by the way I have not posted a picture of because somebody left the digital camera at his brother's house after the Elvis' birthday party I did not go to.

The landlord is a really, really nice man, extremely affable and funny. When we arrive, he's there talking to a couple of other people around his age (somewhere in the late 50s, I guess), and introduces us to them, saying, "This man used to rent from me, and see, he survived!" We all laugh. "He's 19 years old!" the landlord adds.


Well, the other people leave, and we sit down to go over the lease and sign it and give him a check for the deposit, all the while chattering away amiably, and he asks for the names and ages of the children to note them down on the lease. I write them down for him, remarking that Eric and Katie have a different last name because they're from my first marriage.

He repeats their last name a couple of times, and says, "Who did I used to know by that name?" It's an unusual one; I've never known anyone else who had it. "My daughter, she's 37," he continues. "Seems like she knew someone by that name in high school, at Austin, or McCallum..."

Dingdingding! "My ex-husband went to McCallum!" I exclaim, and give his name.

"Yes, that sounds familiar," says our landlord. "What are his parents' names?"

I gave his mother's name. "And his father?" he asks.

"Edgar,"* I say.

His eyes light up. "Edgar!" he crows. "The alcoholic!"

Isn't that awesome? We haven't even moved in yet, and already we have totally bonded with the landlord.

*If I gave his real name, one of these days someone who knows him would google on "(his name) the alcoholic" and there would be my blog, and we can't have that, can we?


My employer is closed in honor of Dr. King today, but it looks like I might not be going in tomorrow, either.

They have a fairly lenient policy regarding weather-related absences. I'll quote from the official policy memo as best I can remember it:
If you feel it is not safe for you to come to work due to weather conditions, then do not come to work. Call in and let your supervisor know you will not be present. Oh yeah, but you have to use your own vacation time, sucker!!!!!

As if there were a chance in hell my supervisor would be in.

And of course I probably can make it, since it's right down the hill from my apartment, and I can just slide there. As long as everyone else is staying home and there are no cars on Riverside when I come barrelling down the hill and fly across at approximately 75 mph, this will not be hazardous at all. But if everyone else is sitting home by the fire, sipping hot cocoa, who will go on break with me?

I'm tired of being cooped up inside. I'm bored. I finished the internet already. Somebody amuse me!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Free Publicity

Dinosaurs, humans coexist in U.S. creation museum
PETERSBURG, Kentucky (Reuters) - Ken Ham's sprawling creation museum isn't even open yet, but an expansion is already underway in the state-of-the art lobby, where grunting dinosaurs and animatronic humans coexist in a Biblical paradise.

I guess if you gotta do it, you should do it in Kentucky. Why did I have to be born there, of all places? Frankly, this story just makes me think immediately of The Far Side. Perhaps next this guy will add an exhibit showcasing polar bears and penguins, dwelling together in panarctic Elysian harmony.

"Grunting dinosaurs and animatronic humans..." Do the humans not grunt? I sure would, if I had to live with dinosaurs all the damn time.

Understanding Cats

They should know they shouldn't be on the table. If your cats are well-trained, they will jump off the table as soon as they hear you coming, and you don't even have to say, "Hey! You! Get off the table!" or throw small objects at them from across the room while they stare at you in befuddlement.

Don't allow your cats to write guest posts on your blog. Their viewpoint is limited, their opinions are not very well thought out, and they're terrible spellers.

You should never date anyone your cats don't approve of.

If your hair is tangled and drooly and your scalp is scratched, you know your cat loves you. Or else it's hungry.

You might want to lock your cats out of the room during sex. They tend to attack things they see wiggling around under the covers, and if you're pinned down, you cannot stop them from licking you on the nose. On the other hand, if they're locked out and want to come in, they will be distractingly noisy and possibly demolish the door, so it's better only to have sex when the cats are away. Or just give up sex altogether.

Little-known fact: Cats are actually transparent! Only they are aware of this. You will find living with cats to be much easier if you can come to grasp this fact as well.

Cats love you very, very much when it's cold and nasty outside. If it's beautiful and sunny out? You suck.

I just scooped Slappy White off the table as he was trying to walk across my iBook. He's now curled up on my lap, purring riotously, and occasionally reaching out a paw to remind me to keep petting him. If I stop petting him for too long, the paw will have claws at the end of it. Slappy White is not subtle. There's coffee ready in the kitchen and I really want to go fix myself a cup, but I do not dare the wrath of Slappy. I understand him too well.

Dogs, though, I never understood at all.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

This Explains a Few Things

Who is best equipped to give sex tips to heterosexual women about how to please a man in bed? Why, gay men, of course.

I don't know if I have ever seen a more useful, relevant page full of advice than the one linked above. At least I certainly took notes. It's entirely possible I'll need to buy the book to complete my collection, alongside my copies of The Sensuous Woman and Sex and the Single Girl.

I just now found it because it googled only 12 spots higher than my blog did on the search term "do men like women with french manicure." And after I only published that post yesterday. I rock, don't I? You know I do.


We're moving into a rental house. Still in Travis Heights; almost smack-dab on top of Stacy Park and Anna's elementary school, in fact. This was rather a sudden development.

It's smaller than the apartment (988 square feet, instead of 1100) and not nearly as modern. It was built in the 30s, and has no dishwasher and no disposall. Of course, I happen to be in the possession of two teenaged children, which as I understand were created by God in His image (except slouchier and less amply bearded) for the express purpose of washing dishes. Sometimes I think I've been issued defective ones, but it's worth a try.

It costs the same as the apartment (except we'll be paying for water and garbage - oh, all right, and probably internet too, dammit), and has a yard! This is really the main appeal. I like my apartment a lot. But it doesn't even have a tiny apartment patio. All of us will love the yard, and the owner - who seems like an extraordinarily nice person - had no problem with us having four cats!

It's all hardwood floors, you see.

There's no dining room, just an eat-in kitchen, which will barely fit my table. The main bedroom was originally the only bedroom, and got subdivided into two bedrooms, large and tiny. You have to walk through the large bedroom to get to the tiny bedroom, the main bathroom, and the still larger "master bedroom," which was actually added as a beauty salon and has its own entrance and half-bath, and rather ugly cheap linoleum tile flooring, unfortunately. But I hear IKEA sells rugs. Katie and Anna will share the large walk-through bedroom, which, with the strategic placement of a few bookcases, can give up a little space for a "hallway." Eric gets the itty bitty sunroom. Fortunately, he has a loft bed.

To do:
1. Learn all about composting
2. Train children to do housework
3. Buy the departing resident's refrigerator, washer and dryer
4. Move
5. Throw kegger

The move will add about a mile to my daily commute. I had probably better invest in a new pair of walking shoes. And if you'll check in later tomorrow, I'll drive by the house, and take a picture to show you how insanely Travis-Heights-Cute-Cute-Cute it is, and all will become clear.


Last night, listening to the biggest thunderstorm in the world roll in, I remembered something my dad once did when I was little and we were living in a row house in Philadelphia - on 20th Street, to be precise. (That's a guess at the address, but I think the green arrow is pointing at the right house.)

It was a pretty cool house, though I guess the neighborhood was declining. It had a small brick yard out front with a maple tree. I used to gather up the winged seedpods and pretend they were fairies. The teenaged girl who lived next door sometimes babysat me. She was a student nurse, and once gave me a little white nurse's cap with blue velvet strips across the top. Why don't nurses wear those cute little caps and white dresses anymore? Scrubs just really aren't all that sexy.

The house had sculpted avocado-colored carpet in the living and dining room, and pink and black tile, and a skylight, in the main bathroom upstairs. Behind was an alley, below street level, with a garage off the basement. In the kitchen there was a little compartment in the exterior wall with a little door on the inside and a little door on the outside, where the driveway to the alley was. This was for the milkman. He must have been so tiny!

My father's room was in the front, overlooking the street, and mine was in the back, overlooking the alley. Normally at night the sky was a nice reassuring orange, but sometimes there were thunderstorms, which were terrifying. I hated the big brilliant flashes of strange light, throwing the room into unnaturally shadowed relief, and I hated the echoing thunder. So I used to run into my dad's room and sleep in his bed.

Small children make terrible bedfellows, what with the kicking and punching and hogging all the covers, so my dad - who was at that time a psychology professor - decided to try an experiment. One night during a storm he took me downstairs to the kitchen, in my pj's, and gave me a big bowl of sherbet to eat, with all the lights off, while he sat and talked with me quietly, and the lightning flashed and the thunder crashed around us. He wanted to build a positive association so that thunderstorms didn't frighten me anymore.

I don't know if it really worked. I'm only slightly frightened by thunderstorms now, but they still terrified me for years after that incident. On the other hand, I really don't much care for sherbet.

This morning it's still raining buckets, and much colder than it was last night. February weather... But everyone else is sleeping and the apartment is silent, except for the sound of the rain. And there is coffee. I really love coffee.

Maybe my dad should have given me a nice big mug of really strong coffee instead.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Insomnia's a Bitch...

... and then you die!

Well, hopefully not anytime too soon. That would suck, although on the other hand I suppose it would be nice and restful.

Insomnia is very stream-of-consciousness, you know, you're sort of bouncing around on the edge of sleep, head pounding, heart racing, but so very very tired, and the oddest thoughts pop into your head. For instance, did you know that Flea, of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, once spent several months living in a dishwasher?

I guess that was probably back before he made it big.

Remember Get Smart? Remember how they had the "Cone of Silence" in the Chief's office, which he would lower over his desk when having top secret conversations with Max? And how it didn't work quite right in that they could not hear one another under it, so they always ended up leaning their heads outside it and shouting? Oh my God I loved that show.

Agent 99 was my heroine, because she was funny and smart and competent and gorgeous and sexy. I always wanted to be just like her. And yet, you know, when she first fell in love with Max, she was insecure and shy and awkward just like me. Love makes huge doofuses of us all. I bet the fair Juliet, receiving Romeo on her balcony, was primarily thinking about whether she had a booger or smelled like onions.

Oh yeah, anyway, I was just going to suggest that a "Cone of Silence" would make an excellent bed canopy. Also, you could market a hat-sized version for tuning out annoying family members or coworkers. I'm surprised nobody's thought of this before, aren't you? I mean, wouldn't you make a killing? So if anybody reading this gets rich off my idea and doesn't share with me, I'm going to be hella pissed.

I did a French manicure on my nails yesterday. Fingernails, not toenails. They look quite nice, and this is important because men really notice these things, you know. I'm pretty sure my fingernails are my best feature. This is probably a little irrational, but I absolutely hate women who have French tips on their toenails. Seriously, like I said, I know it's irrational, but whenever I see a French pedicure I feel a surge of hostility. That looks so stupid. I hope no such women are reading this. My toenails are red, as God intended.

Work. I should be getting up in a few minutes and starting to get ready for work. I've been awake since ten minutes to one. I can't sleep anymore. Thank God for coffee.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

One Glorious Year

My friend b.r. is now living in a picture postcard, or in a scene from a very difficult jigzaw puzzle like I used to spend all my time doing before my dad thoughtfully invented the Internet for my amusement. And on this, the first anniversary of my employment with an agency of the Texas state government, am I envious of his spectacular new job, working for a cause he really believes in, completely surrounded by intelligent, well-educated people, in an enlightened and modern environment?

Oh HELL yes. And here are 10 reasons why I shouldn't be.

10. Some of our outdated office equipment is actually vintage, and could theoretically be swiped and sold for a killing on eBay, although based on how little of it I've seen around lately, I think someone may have beaten me to that particular idea.

9. You wouldn't even believe how much I know about the weather, what with NOAA being essentially the only external website employees of our agency are allowed to visit. You need to know the chance of precipitation next Saturday in Bangor? Ask me!

8. The Town Lake hike-and-bike trail never gets old, and the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue is situated at the perfect distance to time an afternoon-break walk.

7. (related to #8) Two 45-minute breaks per day with some of my favorite people, no questions asked.

6. I live in Travis Heights. I generally walk to work instead of driving. Birds are profoundly grateful.

5. I get frozen turkey for free.

4. State employees (the real kind, not my friends and me) and their incompetent shenanigans provide nearly limitless blog fodder.

3. A wonderfully kind somebody brought me cookies to commemorate my anniversary of employment today.

2. If things get slow at work, I can always compose poetry with magnetic words and letters on my metal cabinet doors.

And the thing I am most grateful for?

1. I do not work in sales and marketing.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Safety First

All is well in Austin, Texas.

What a self-centered pronouncement. Of course all is not well, not at all, not for the friends and families of 63 deeply lamented, newly departed avians. And all will not be well again for a very long time, if ever. But why dwell on it? You just have to get on with your life, that's what I always say, or at least that's what I say when I'm not wallowing in my own misery, which, just at this particular moment in time, I am not, which means I get to tell you how to feel. Silly bird! Emotions are for mammals.

I'd also like to make it perfectly clear at this point that my smoke-ring-blowing 1992 VW Golf was nowhere near 9th and Congress when I started it up this morning.

This morning several of us from my department attended the mandatory quarterly safety meeting. We have to go to these because we sometimes go out into the field, which let me tell you, is absolutely teeming with 18-wheelers just itching to run us over. Repeatedly. Very violent, these 18-wheelers. Not being an automotive psychologist, I couldn't really tell you what motivates them; but I'm sure it has something to do with an unhappy childhood. They probably particularly hate my car.

Today's presentation was supposed to be on the hazards of cigarette smoking. So it struck me as rather odd that three of my non-smoking coworkers and I went, whereas Bitching Smoker (just as an example off the top of my head) is scheduled for next month's meeting. But it doesn't matter, because the featured guest speaker never showed up anyway; in which case I really feel that my coworkers and I have little choice but to go out and buy several packs of cigarettes, inhale them right away, and become nicotine addicts, because our employer failed to officially inform us that this would be a bad idea.

So since the speaker didn't show up, we got to watch the same video I saw at the last safety meeting I attended. It's called "One Step from Death" and contains many heartwrenching voiceover narratives, hair-raising dramatizations - all with the scene cutting to black at exactly the crucial moment - and extremely ominous music. In one scene, a state employee called "Cindy" sits on the ground, stirring hot mix, with her back to a slowly reversing cement mixer, beeping as it backs up, inexorably approaching her, but she's engrossed in her work, beep - beep - beep Oh no! Cindy, look out!!! and the cement mixer backs up closer - and she doesn't look up - closer, closer - beep - beep - beep - closer, closer - shelooksupinhorrorbutit'stoolate! Cut to black.

I'm sorry, but Cindy is the poster child for zombie fodder.

And then there was the guy they showed who heard his phone ringing, in his truck parked on the other side of the highway, and vaulted across the concrete barricade directly into the path of an oncoming 18-wheeler. "Dave was a real go-getter," said the sad voiceover. "He'd been doing his job well for over 20 years."

I know this post has been all over the place, but basically, I'm trying to tell you: 1. Don't smoke, 2. Don't jump in front of 18-wheelers, and most importantly, 3. Try to avoid being a bird if you see me getting into my car. Trust me on this.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Look Busy

I have no idea whom to credit for this, since I just found it floating around in the ether. But I love these things!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Giving People the Wrong Idea Entirely

While crossing Riverside on the home from work today, I got honked at by some guy waiting at the light. As any woman knows, this does happen now and again. I ignored it and walked on.

The jerk honked some more and yelled something. Ugh! Please! Don't you hate guys who do that?

Then after the light changed, he pulled up alongside me, honking and yelling "Nice tits!" and I saw it was my good friend Tony, so of course I laughed and waved, then jumped right into his truck and off we went.

If you've recently heard that the feminist cause in Austin has just been set back about 50 years, now you know why.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

I Wanna See Some Traffic Dammit

Okay, I am not posting any more entries until you people go read the frozen turkey's blog.

Honestly. Do you think frozen turkeys blog just to hear themselves type? Do you think it's easy writing a blog when you live in a freezer and have no fingers? You self-centered, complacent, smug, poultry-averse, ungrateful bastards. You people make me sick.

Which, by the way, the turkey did not. And there are still leftovers! When a turkey's that good, you don't eat it all at once.*

*10 points if you get the reference

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Hostile Work Environment

At work, you know, we accrue sick leave, vacation time and comp time. I need to drop a note into the suggestion box to let management know that we need to be able to rack up working-from-home time for sexual harassment. I'd have weeks of it by now - though not nearly as much as the guys who work with me would.

My friend Robbie and I went to Steak & Shake for lunch today. Have you been there? One just opened up in far south Austin, but before that, Robbie just pined for the ones back in Indiana. After a coffee mocha milkshake, I take his point.

Afterwards we stopped by Walgreen's to pick up a few odds and ends. And do you believe, they had a shelf full of vibrators, right out there in the open, where anybody could see them! I was scandalized. But Robbie insisted they were shoulder massagers.

"No, look," I said, "they say they're shoulder massagers, but see, they have those knobbly different attachments for different, um, effects."

"Those are for your shoulders," he said.

"No, they aren't," I said.

"But it has a picture of a woman's neck and shoulders on the package," he insisted.

"The massager itself isn't in that picture," I pointed out.

The only definitive outcome of the debate was that it would probably be a bad idea for Robbie to buy one for an office gift exchange. Fortunately, our employer is much too chintzy ever to put on such a function. But I think I won. Robbie's a young, innocent guy, after all, whereas I have - um, I've seen catalogs, and been to F.U.N. parties, where by the way I did not buy anything.

When we'd finished shopping, the clerk - a sweet-faced, good-natured older lady - hurried to the register from a nearby display, apologizing that she hadn't been sure if we were checking out or just standing around talking.

"No, no," I said, "I'm never talking to him again!"

She laughed. "Boy, wouldn't that make him happy!" she said. "Is that a promise? I bet that would really make his day!" and so on.


Anyway, I think today's excursion gets Robbie and me each several hours of working-from-home time. I'm not sure how much each of us gets, or whether the offenses each of us visits upon the other cancels out the time we've earned. But you get 8 hours for reading this post. Maybe we'll hire the checkout clerk from Walgreen's to work in HR, calculating the amount of time earned for each offense. I'll put it in the suggestion box.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

What's My Melodic Line?

Take Puccini's Manon Lescaut - please!

Well, it's not my favorite Puccini. A bit overlong perhaps. But I received a DVD of this performance for Christmas. I was reared on the philosophy that you can never have too much opera, so this is a good thing.

Based on a 1731 novel by Antoine François Prévost, the libretto features a young girl shipped off by her father to a convent outside Paris, but her beauty and charm are such that a student absconds with her before she can reach her destination (doubtless the reason she was being institutionalized in the first place). The sweet young thang has very expensive tastes, and the student doesn't have much money, so she leaves him to become mistress to a wealthy old Parisian dirtbag.

I am so sad that the world isn't like that anymore.

Unfortunately, W.O.P.D. has her arrested for prostitution when he catches her with her student lover, so she's exiled to the barren wastes of America. She perishes of thirst and exposure amid the arid, lifeless dunes of southern Louisiana.

The Abbé Prévost didn't know much about geography, but he knew what he liked.

It's hard to empathize with Manon. She's painted as a tragic heroine - innocent and sweet, with the single fatal flaw of a love for luxury; always led astray by worldlier men's attentions to her beauty. But the whole point of tragic heroes is that they're supposed to be, how do you say - ah yes. Heroic! If the tragic flaw (self-absorbed materialism) is the most prominent feature of the character's personality, you don't really have much. Innocent, sweet and pretty is a dime a dozen, really.

I talk a big talk, but of course I was blubbering like a baby at the end. #!%*@ New Orleans desert!

Two Unrelated Points

Well, last night we finally ate my coworker's unwanted, unloved, rejected, one-year-old frozen turkey. It was actually quite good, I'm pleased to report; and casualties were minimal.

And I have a befuddling question. Today I made a lunch hour run to Target to pick up some new socks, as all of mine are getting to be uncomfortably sacred. I bought a ten-pack of crew socks in a plastic bag.

The perforated top of the bag rips off, and underneath is resealable Ziploc.

Why? Why??

Monday, January 01, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

I'm going to scoop out the kitty litter box more often.

And no more partying with other people's people. It's my people and my people only, from here on out. I don't care if I have to make them from cadaverous leftovers myself. I like my friends!