Thursday, May 31, 2007

Happy Birthday

Anna is six years old today.

She's so excited! She got a bike, and a tea set, and many more Barbie-related objects than I found to be strictly proper; but she's very, very happy. In fact, she's dancing.

Wait a minute. That's not a happy dance.

"Mommy!" she shouts, dancing around. She's all excited. "This is my first time I have to go to the bathroom when I'm six!!!"

It's a birthday potty!

How To Be a State Employee

I must be doing something wrong. Either the job or my personality has to go.

Today I found a discrepancy in our database: a direct connector ramp off of one state highway had no corresponding ramp on the interstate it was connecting to. No flyovers, either. Where could they have gone?

The project was marked as having been entered in 2003 by someone who, remarkably, still works there. I emailed her to ask if she still had the construction plans, or at least her worksheet from them, so I could pinpoint the location of the second ramp.

Five minutes later she showed up in my cube with a few slips of paper in her hand. "Here you go," she said. "I just put it on the state highway, since the plans for the interstate end were kind of confusing to read."

"..." I said. You can do that?!

But she's been there, you know, for years; whereas I can't help noticing that the people who bother finishing their work, who are thorough and smart, who are, dare I say it, competent - well, those people don't seem to stick around quite as long.

Okay. The person I'm talking about here is Bubbly Nonsmoker, formerly Bitching Smoker, who - at least in her previous incarnation - was a model state employee. For one, she smoked. For another, she bitched. She was extremely good at both activities. I doubt many people would dare to approach her if she weren't getting her work done, because, you know, they were scared. You can get away with a lot when you're grouchy and intimidating.

So there's one thing I do wrong, being generally friendly and approachable. Big mistake! People only give you work that way. And if you're actually good at it? Well, that'd be a dumbass thing to do.

Coworker-You-Idiot is another good archetype. He's not unfriendly, to put it rather delicately, but you wouldn't necessarily want to approach him anyway. And there's little point in giving him anything to do; it will only give him ideas, and you know that can't be good for him. I think his greatest contribution to the department is that he's tall and always wears the headphones with the little antenna sticking up; so if the building gets struck by lightning, he'll draw it away from everyone else.

Then there's the Phantom Pharter: again, not unfriendly, but... well, I'm sure I needn't elaborate. Around midmorning I found myself standing in the kitchen area talking to another woman when he walked in and began to pour himself coffee, and two horrifying realizations hit me like a sucker punch to the gut:

1. It's Thursday.
2. It was about 10:15am.

I all but bolted; fortunately, the other woman followed along, keeping up her end of the conversation as if I weren't doing anything at all unusual. People know. People know.

And I'm very fortunate that, the way the current seating arrangement on the floor works out, I'm far enough away from the snoring guy that I hardly ever hear him.

There are some normal people there who have stuck around for quite a while. My lead worker is one. He's cool, and funny and smart and knows his stuff; and he's been there for something like 20 years! So maybe there's hope for me.

At least I know I have some construction plans on an interchange to keep me busy on Monday.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Long and Breakless Day

I'm at work as I write this, and not enjoying it very much. Robbie is out for the rest of the week. He got a baby kitten last night, and has named her Bullock. He's staying home for a few days to take care of her, and get her acclimated to her new surroundings.

Wait for it... wait for it...

He's out on caternity leave!

Bill's out in the field. We three are all that's left of the Three-Martini Break Group. Oh, there are a few emergency back-up members, but I don't really count them. I'll go to break without Robbie or without Bill, but without both? Forget it.

How did I ever get through the workday without three-martini breaks?

At least there's the lunchtime walk on the hike-and-bike to break up the day. It's lovely out, though summer begins to rear its fevered head. And you catch the most interesting snippets of conversation from other people. "Elective dog surgery," a man was shouting into his cell phone just as I passed.

Band name!

Many of the joggers have dogs in tow. Sometimes literally, in the case of a few of the smaller dogs, which are clearly not ASPCA-rated for use at that speed. Most of the joggers call cheerful encouragement to their pets: "Here we go! Good boy! All right!" But one man was barking orders like a drill sergeant. "Get GOING, dog! Come ON!! MOVE YOUR ASS!!!"

I just don't understand dog people.

Oooh! Robbie just texted me to tell me that Bullock had her first poopy in the litter box. He's very excited. He took a picture.

Maybe next week I can get him to bring her to break!

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Honking Toilet of Doom

I want to buy a bunch of crickets from the pet store. That way, whenever we're in a staff meeting and our supervisor nervously jokes about how she doesn't really do anything, and there's a long pause during which nobody says "no, no, you do so much," it will be a little more pointed.

The crickets you buy at PetSmart, like my supervisor's remarks, are used as bait. But crickets are effective.

We do, however, have the Honking Toilet of Doom to break the awkward silences during meetings. The third-stall toilet in the east side ladies' room emits a very loud "grrreeeeeeONNNNK" a few seconds after it's flushed. I've thought about putting a warning sign on the stall door, because it's clearly audible from both our department's conference rooms - from about half the second floor, really. Our meetings are irregularly punctuated with the sound, which always makes the less mature attendees (read: me) dissolve into fits of giggling.

We had two of these meetings today: paying, I suppose, for the pleasures of a three-day weekend out of town. The Honking Toilet of Doom had been a topic of conversation in Corpus! We had to explain this to one of our coworkers while recapping the trip. He said he had never heard the sound before, so later, as we sat in our staff meeting waiting for everyone to assemble, and the Honk of Doom echoed through the room, I said, "There! There it is! Hear it?" and he did indeed.

A few moments later, Bubbling Nonsmoker* entered the room. Our coworker brightened. "Hey! We just heard you flush the toilet!" he exclaimed.

She was Not Amused. Robbie, on the other hand, looked as if he might die of asphyxiation.

That was the high point of the meeting, though. Which is why I really need the crickets.

*The artist formerly known as Bitching Smoker.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, May 28, 2007

Best Weekend Ever

Isn't there a song about how, if you're going to Corpus Christi, be sure to have flowers on your car?

I'll write one, perhaps. We're also going to write a musical about the big creepy Jesus of the Sea. Justin, I mean Edwin, has the title song mostly done.

Downtown Corpus, you know, is largely derelict, though there are some efforts under way to revitalize it. There's this incredibly cool old building right across from our hotel. Aside from a lone dive bar on the ground floor, it's been empty for I-don't-know-how-long. Now they're gutting it and turning it into lofts; and I bet they won't go for as much as the downtown lofts in Austin do... Anyway, the doors are all locked and all that's left of the bar is its sign on the side of the building. But many of the windows are open. And there's a fire escape. Wouldn't it be so cool, Edwin and Dumas and I kept saying to one another all weekend, if we could somehow get into that building and explore?

Last night we went out with my old war buddies Omar and Spam Master G, who's still at the hell place (and says it's almost sane now that Tiffany is gone - I cannot tell you how flabbergasted I still am by that - my head is reeling!). And as we walked back through the deserted downtown streets at 2am (almost no bars are open on Sunday night, Memorial Day weekend be damned), we passed our building. It's so cool, isn't it? Wouldn't it be awesome if there were a way in?

You can jump and reach the fire escape, but it's chained in the up position. But Omar gave G a boost (in a fashion that, if they still worked together, would have them both working from home for at least six months) and G went through a window, came down the stairs, and opened the bar door for us. It wasn't really even locked - it opens inward, and was secured by a length of 2x4 propped under the door handle.

There's electricity, but above the fifth floor no lights were on. The inside is completely gutted. Most of the windows were open, so with no interior walls (but many, many concrete columns) it wasn't impenetrably dark. It smelled old. It was deliciously spooky. I half expected Richard Dean Anderson to leap out of the wall at me naked.

Of course we disturbed nothing - there was nothing to disturb, and after a while we made our way back down to street level and outside. It was incredibly cool. I'd like to say it's the crowning moment of the trip, but it's got some pretty stiff competition: the beach at midnight, silent except for the waves and dark except for the stars and a half moon; getting ready in the bathroom for an evening our partying and coming out to find Dumas filling the room with pink balloons and paper streamers and a birthday card and candles for me (he wanted to have a cake too, but since we took my car and nobody else is able to drive it, there wasn't really a way to do that); trying to reassure a very drunk guy on the street corner that we weren't breaking into my car, as it's actually my car; discovering that Captain Albatross looked just like our dad; getting caught staring out our hotel window at all the human drama taking place by the pool; finding out that Robin quit her job at the old hell place by screaming "FAT BITCH!" at Tiffany and slamming the door in her face; breakfast at City Diner with Omar and Robert; talking up Alaska and how much we miss our butler (or maid) Nyuk-Nyuk over lunch in Nixon; listening to cool tunes on Edwin's iPod; having the most complicated, difficult, and lengthy hotel check-in process I have ever experienced; gathering flowers and vegetation at every place we stopped and tucking it under my rear window wiper, so by this point it looks like I drove down a ravine and into the sea ass-backwards; pink yogurty yummy strawberry martinis; taking a driving tour of the ghetto; getting rained on; getting sunned on; laughing and laughing and laughing and laughing and laughing and laughing so much I'm totally hoarse.

Of course, our Dad's ashes are still going round and round on the conveyor belt at the Seattle airport. We thought about asking Nyuk-Nyuk if she (or he) would FedEx them to us, but figured we'd be back home in Barrow by the time they arrived.

So we'll go back again one day. And there will be flowers on my car.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Hell Marketing Corp. Goes Down: Faking It Till You Make It

Ursula fired Tiffany! Her own, soulless-marketing niece!! All Hell has broken loose! So here are some all-hell-has-broken-loose quotes from tonight.

"You got a mess on your finger, there, dude."

"Just because I kissed you, doesn't mean you get to force-feed me Combos whenever you feel like it."

"I know. She told me to stuff it. What a ho-bag!"

"I'zzzz toooo........I am tooo"

"Come on can flip!"

"Educated, my ass!"

"Don't be a froo-froo bitch!"

"ewww ewwww ewwwwww"

"When you're pissed off, you can be like: 'fwua fwau fwua! I'm dressed!'"

"Wait, it's -- "

"Who's that in the hallway?" "Just some groceries!"

"Colorful jackets and boringness. The End!"

"It's trash. It's not groceries!"

"I have to pee...excuse me" "Nooooooooooo!!!"

"Is that supposed to be small?!" "No, I haven't started yet!"

"Women know it. Men know it. Women know that men are not supposed to know that women know it. Men know that women are not supposed to know that men know that women are not supposed to know that men know it. So everything's okay, right?"

It's likely that there will be more tomorrow. On a less positive note, it was brought up today that we forgot to bring Dad's ashes to Texas. Shit.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Journey of Self-Discovery

To Corpus Christi: indeed. Well, introspection is one thing. But this is a long, serious roadtrip I'm planning with two of my dearest friends, so we need a long, serious backstory.

Justin, Robbie and I are Edwin, Dumas, and Magda Silhavy: two brothers and a sister. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, we have lived since infancy in Barrow, Alaska; and in fact we have no memory of any other place.

Dumas is 28, I am 29, and Edwin is 32. We have come to Corpus via a tortuous route and are on our way to scatter our father's ashes in Mexico. Our father, a Russian by birth, had an unsurpassed passion for mariachi music.

Our mother was not Russian, but a mail-order bride from Las Vegas. The couple crossed the Bering Strait into Alaska, a few thousand years behind the times perhaps, but better late than never, in the late 1970s. Our father died in the crossing. Polar bears may have been involved. Penguins are right out.

Though our mother raised us alone, she was never much of a parent, and abandoned us to our own devices when Dumas was only eighteen. She's shacked up in Fairbanks with some loser now. Edwin, ever the peacemaker, tried to persuade her to come to Mexico with us to scatter Father's ashes, but she told him to stuff it.

Our arduous journey began with a dogsled trip from Barrow to Nome, where we did not see our mother, but caught a single-engine plane to Anchorage. From there we flew to Seattle; from Seattle, to Houston, where we rented a small green VW with a Flying Spaghetti Monster emblem on the back, and wilted purple flowers secured to the windshield via the windshield wipers. (Hopefully it won't rain.) Our journey will only be complete when Father's ashes have been laid to rest in the land that he loved so dearly.

Meanwhile, our work at home is on hold. We're well-educated professionals, you know: we graduated from Barrow High (Gooooooooooo Pharaohs!*) and from UAF with degrees in marketing. We are marketers. We market whale products. You can find us at

I don't like to mention it, but Edwin and I have a sneaking suspicion that Dumas may have a hidden ulterior motive for the trip. We suspect he may be trying to recruit people to move to Barrow, enough people so the town can get a Super Wal-Mart. We dearly hope we are mistaken, but we fear not. Dumas' strange obsession is a source of unease in our otherwise peaceful family.

This trip may bring out more truths about our family than we ever cared to know, so it's a good thing we're bringing plenty of vodka.

*Pharaohs is not right. I can't remember the actual mascot, though.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ready for the Weekend

Anna was taken aback by the bright green bandages on my arms when I got home. "Why do you have those?" she asked.

"Because I gave blood at work today," I said.

She was perplexed. "Somebody at work ran out of blood?"

Actually, it wouldn't surprise me.

Today feels like a Friday: the last day of school, and there's jubilation in the air. I just dropped Eric off at his grandma's house for the long weekend.

She gardens, my ex-mother-in-law, which is odd. Inside the house it's always dark and gloomy. It's furnished and decorated with heavy, almost Gothic antiques. The TV, the only light source in the living room, is never off. There are big windows, but they never seem to admit any light. My ex-father-in-law floats around the place, vaguely, like an alcohol-fueled ghost. It's an incredibly depressing place; but outside is a profusion of bloom and life that contrasts starkly with the airless indoors.

Whereas I tend to be the other way around: my home tends to be, if not in the strictest sense clean, at least cozy and cheerful inside; but my outdoor design and maintenance abilities make the baby Jesus cry.

It should be a fun weekend. I'm going to Corpus with friends, liquor, and the flying spaghetti car. There will be dancing!

With luck, there won't be any further bloodshed.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

It's a Miracle

I was sick, but now I'm cured. Hallelujah!

Or it may just be that I didn't feel well enough to go to work today, but now it's past five.

It's beautiful out - lovely and cool, or at least not hot. There's a nice breeze, and late afternoon sunlight slanting through the trees. There are contented cats dotted here and there on the grass around me. There are also swarms of mosquitoes, but you can't expect miracles.

Birthdays and PMS are a terrible combination. Possibly even worse than popcorn and clam juice. But these things, too, shall pass. It's not the getting older that I mind, or at least not yet. It's the lying awake all night tossing and turning and thinking of all the things that I had assumed, when I was a mere slip of a girl, that I would have accomplished by now: financial comfort or at least security; an advanced degree or two; a meaningful and stimulating career; love and contentment; and I expect I meant to have saved the world at least once. Something, anything to make the concept of death less imminent, less horrifying to face. But what have I done? Passed on my genes a few times, then made an emergency backup copy of my personality on the internet? Was this what the world needed?

I am forced to admit that it probably is not.

So I've been sorrowful and sorry, too much so to keep from showing it, which means I'm embarrassed and ashamed to boot. And feeling lost.

But maybe, if I'm miraculously lucky, if you love me, you'll forgive me, and I can be found.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, May 21, 2007

Comings and Goings

We (that's the royal "we," by the way, but I won't get into all that again) like to think we're all impulsive, happy-go-lucky, devil-may-care, come-what-may, come-as-you-are, as-the-mood-strikes-you, do-what-you-feel-like, and perhaps six or seven other hyphenated, generally fun qualities. Don't we?

We find, upon reflection, that too much change, in too short a time, does not please us at all.

Too many people gone: and this afternoon, randomly, a guy walking by comes and joins us at break. He ducked in because of the rain. He was young, non-smoking, and normal-looking, so at first I was pleased; but then he talked rather an excessive deal about his job, and seemed disinclined to listen to everyone else talking about silly, frivolous, random things. Not Break Group Material, and that's that. Begone!

Why we suddenly think we're Queen of the Break Group, we are not certain.

Today I hit the hike-and-bike at lunch for the first time in quite awhile. It, too, has changed: not much, but the rerouting that was done nearly a year ago, when improvements to the park surrounding the trail began, has recently been un-re-routed. This too is jarring in subtle ways: the gravel is too loosely packed; the scenery is unfamiliar, after so long.

From the vantage point of the trail you can see the new Palmer Events Center under construction. Palmer Auditorium, which it replaces, was a thing of unique ugliness: a dome in enthusiastically tasteless variegated earth tones of green, brown, tan, and cream. Delightfully, the designers of the new edifice - which is not a dome at all - have embraced that legacy, by plastering the upper stories of the building with material in the same exact pattern and colors. It's a change! It remains the same! It's ug-tastic!

The busyness of the last few weeks is past, and for most of today I found myself idle. We, that is - we found ourselves idle, and were therefore not amused. Another state of extreme stress is in the wings, currently being set up by our highly tiresome, panic-monger boss; but has not been released upon us (that's the commoner "us" this time) just yet.

More time with dear friends; more interesting work to keep us busy and feeling important; less artificial stress and pointless panic; less anger; less worry and loneliness and unhappiness; more love, more good; less disappointment, less bad.

If we ruled the world, that's how it would be.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ah, the Crazy Hedonism of the Weekends

I love when I have the house to myself, because then I can listen to as much Prokofiev as I damn well please.

And give myself a manicure and a pedicure, uninterrupted. And play in the dirt!

This guy was starting to get pretty root-bound in his nasty green plastic pot on wire hangers. I don't know what kind of plant he is, aside from the kind of plant you can get at HEB. I've had him about two years now.

My honeysuckle is in bloom!

I didn't want anybody to think the picture I posted yesterday is representative of my plant-tending skills. That hapless creature was left here by the previous tenant, and had about four more leaves when we moved in than it does now. I've been watering it and trying to save it, I swear.

L-R: planted clippings from the hanging-basket HEB guy (who has another flourishing child at my office, by the way, and another vase full of clippings ready to plant - anybody want them? Perhaps he is a member of the zucchini family), another abandoned rescue plant which is doing much better now, some clippings from a coworker (icicle plant?!), and newly planted clippings from yet another abandoned plant I rescued and have nursed back to rampant health, but don't know how to identify.

Don't you love Prokofiev?

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Is There a Horticulturist in the House?

This guy's not looking so good.

Do you think he'll pull through?

Labels: ,

Friday, May 18, 2007


It's been a pretty crazy week.

Which is good, right? It's really bothered me, not being busy at all, all these months, almost a year and a half. I've worried that I'd be ruined as an employee. And so I am: I resent work cutting into my breaks. I almost wouldn't dream of working through lunch (though I did yesterday).

I'm ruined in that I can get home at 5:01pm on a Friday afternoon and sit on my sunny front steps with an iBook and a glass of wine, and laugh at the way a hopeful but frustrated cloud of mosquitoes hovers around Romeo, sacked out on the grass, and know that I won't stress about work all weekend. This has been a crazy week?!

Stress hasn't touched me. The mosquitoes, on the other hand, have discovered skin.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Crash Course

There's occasionally an ad on the sign-in screen for my Yahoo! mail that's been driving me up the wall. It says,
Spammers giveth
Yahoo! Mail taketh away

which, of course, with modernized verb endings, means "Spammers gives, Yahoo! Mail takes away."

This is obviously incorrect.

Worse by far is some fast-food ad on the homepage with a tie-in to yet another Shrek movie. As if that weren't bad enough news, the ad says, at the bottom - in what I assume is meant to be a second-person imperative* aimed at hapless web users like you and me: "Clicketh and drooleth."

Clicks and drools? Who does?!

So apparently it's time for me to have a cozy little sit-down with the Internet at large and give it a quick lesson in archaic English conjugation.

Alllll righty. So, I give. You/we/they give. He/she/it giveth. Thou givest. Got it?

Mind you, this is indicative mood. Imperative mood is different. For example, if I'm just telling you that, mmm! you go, honey, I'd say "thou goest;" but if it's a command, I'll say "Go thou!" (Prithee.)

"You," incidentally, is the plural of "thou," in the nominative case, with "ye" and "thee" in both the accusative and dative cases. Simply put, "ye" is to "you," and "thee" is to "thou," as "me" is to "I." So I don't expect to see any more of those errors online from now on.

Of course, "you" is also employed when addressing a single person formally. "You" is used for your liege lord, your boss, slight acquaintances, and respectable strangers. It's the equivalent of addressing someone by last name and honorific. "Thou" is familiar: use it for your lover, your family, your pets, or the kind of riffraff who'd only give themselves airs if you spoke respectfully to them.

God counts as a family member (and only one - so much for the Nicene Creed!) and is addressed as "Thou," but don't forget to capitalize it, or He'll smite your ass.

I trust this clears everything up.

*Or, in soulless marketing parlance, a "call to action."

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


They're installing a new badge-reader system at work, which will, theoretically, eventually work with the new badges we were issued a few months ago. So far it doesn't, so today they just turned off the alarm and propped all the doors open.

But we're safe! Because, remember, we have that extra security guard posted at the end of our hallway.

Of course this extra guard was posted there several months ago, shortly after a somewhat deranged older employee, who had been stalking my cube neighbor A., got fired.

The guard is still there, though A. has been gone about a month now. But there were always two or three days a month when the guard's station would be empty. We never could figure out if there was a pattern to this. But this morning, Robbie and I were speculating that, long-term employees being largely creatures of habit, perhaps the former stalker is organized enough to call in and indicate whether he's planning to be a threat each day.

It's been going on for quite a while, so I imagine the conversations are professionally jovial. "Hey Rick, how's things? Thinking about coming in with an Uzi today?" "Nah, it's gorgeous out today, nice weather to enjoy a few cold ones out by the lake." "Well, have a great one, talk to you tomorrow!"

Turnover is pretty high for the extra security guard position. These people - hourly contract employees - must get incredibly bored just sitting there in one spot, day in and day out, on perpetual watch for someone who almost certainly will never come in, not that they'd have a chance in hell of recognizing him if he did. So there's a different guard about every other month. The last one was a woman, but the new one today is a guy.

He caught my eye pointedly as I walked past on the way to my desk this afternoon. "Well, hello there," he said, "how are you today?"

I smiled and nodded and looked away and mumbled something, but he kept his eyes hard on me, and I could feel them sticking to my backside all the way down the hall.

So today I got sexually harrassed by a security guard posted to protect a woman who's no longer there from a stalker who most likely was never much of a threat to begin with.

Your tax dollars at work!

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, May 14, 2007

It's 9 o'clock. Do You Know Where Your Kid Is?

Anna's in Moscow just at the moment, unless she's moved on. She was in Mexico before that; and before that she asked to go to Colorado (they've been studying it in her class), and checked out b.r.'s and Sara's new hometowns. She likes the mountains, but she loves the downtown photos.

We had GoogleEarth on the crappy old PC in Corpus, but after that thing fizzled out I never got around to loading it onto a real computer (the G4). I downloaded it this weekend because Anna was disturbed to read, in this month's National Geographic, that bulldog ants can spot an intruder up to two yards away, and will chase you down, and that their sting hurts like a motherfucker. (The author of the article might have worded that slightly differently.)

So I downloaded GoogleEarth in order to reassure her that Australia is safely located more than two yards from our house.

She's hooked, and who wouldn't be? Talk about giving your kids the world. Grabbing the Earth, spinning it back and forth, and zooming in and out gives you a marvelous sense of perspective, too. Every kid should have it. I had trouble dragging her away to eat dinner ("I'm not hungry," she insisted).

Better try to get her out of Africa so I can put her to bed now.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Very Happy Mother's Day

To all you mothers out there!

Wait a minute, that didn't sound right at all.

But especially, Happy Mother's Day to my kind and lovely stepmother, Joyce; to my high school classmate, Pam; and to Annie in Austin, who featured in a write-up in the Austin American-Spaceman on garden-blogging yesterday. How awesome is that?!

Katie and her friend Jinx planned a Mother's Day picnic at Little Stacy for Jinx's mom and me today. It was a very sweet surprise, though it turned out the Kool-Aid they served wasn't spiked. Who'd have thunk it? You'd think fourteen-year-olds would be a little more resourceful. So much for my parenting skills!

Jinx's mom has a lovely new tat with Jinx's name on her upper left arm, which I think pretty well trumps anything I've ever done for Katie, or any of my kids for that matter. I've never met her before, but she was really nice. The girls went all-out: they bought a cake; they served the abovementioned virginal Kool-Aid; and they prepared a Newlywed-Game-style Q&A session designed to embarra^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H determine how well we moms knew our daughters.

Not that well, it turns out. To be fair, both girls substituted untrue answers if they thought the correct answers would be too easy. How could I know that Katie's favorite band was Social Distortion?! She was just going on and on about how The Shins are the greatest band ever just last week!

The last question the girls asked both of us was, "Why are we so boy-crazy?" I think Jinx's mom and I might both have said "Because you're my daughter!" in unison. So here's to being boy-crazy. Did anybody bring anything to put in the Kool-Aid?

Labels: , , ,

What Happens at the Alamo and an Art Party...

...actually, your guess is as good as mine because we didn't manage to go to either.

We went to see Hot Fuzz at the Alamo South and it was sold out, so we looked through the Chronicle and decided instead to go see it at the Tinseltown South on Stassney, fifteen minutes later.

Okay. I don't go to movies often. The last regular-price movie I went to see in a regular theater was Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, in Corpus, two years ago. And since that time, I've been to two dollar theater showings in Corpus, and two features at the Alamo. That's it, in the last two years. So I figured, well, it'll be corporate, and you won't be able to get beer; but a theater is a theater, right?

Wrong, actually. They play commercials at you! COMMERCIALS! How the hell did that come about? They think I paid $8.50 for a movie ticket so I could sit there for half an hour watching commercials?! By the time the movie finally started I was already kind of viewed out and wanting to go home, and we only got there a few minutes before the published showtime.

I know you're going to tell me you told me so and yes, you did, but I didn't have any idea it was quite that bad. I guess the writing's on the wall, though. Not for no reason was the Alamo showing sold out, while we were two out of about ten people, total, in the theater at the Tinseltown. Well, never again. Though it was a fun movie and maybe we'll go see it again at the Alamo in a few weeks when it isn't sold out anymore.

It was a fun evening overall. We had dinner at the Alligator Grill before, ice cream at Amy's after, then popped into the nearest branch of the Evil Empire to buy some pussy supplies.

Wait, I shouldn't tell you that. What happens at Wal-Mart, stays at Wal-Mart.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Get the Umbrella

It looks to start raining frogs.

The Bitching Smoker quit smoking a couple of months ago, which I can deal with, and I'm glad for her. But she's also recently quit bitching.

I am concerned.

In fact, for the last few weeks or so, she's been positively chirpy. I'm given to understand that she's currently on a year's probation for her grouchy and uncooperative behavior, so she's minding her Ps and Qs; but must she actually effervesce?! I keep expecting the other shoe to drop. Or the other frog, as the case may be.

Meanwhile, we poor sad remnants of the break group are left without shelter. Greatly outnumbered, we no longer pwn* the break area the way we used to do. Other people freely come and sit in our area even when we are there. Once we actually took break with some smokers (though one of them was Diane, who is lots of fun, so it wasn't so bad). And if someone else is there when we arrive at our God-given time for breaks, they don't look guilty, cut their break short and skulk away like they are supposed to.

I feel, I remarked to a friend yesterday, like deposed royalty living in exile. It's hard to see the peasants enjoying what is rightfully ours.

Perhaps the most apocalyptic sign of all is that I've been genuinely busy for the last couple of weeks. The work itself may not matter much in the greater scheme of things, but I can't help noticing that it's easy to forget that what you're doing is pointless, if you're kept busy enough. (This rule doesn't apply to 10-keying.)

With my mind actually somewhat occupied by work for much of the day, and with breaks rather sparsely attended (though still great, don't get me wrong), it's kind of hard to find things to blog about. I am uninspired (sigh).

But I'm going to a silly movie at the Alamo and an art party with climbable sculpture tonight, so everything should be better tomorrow. Hopefully it won't rain.

*I don't actually know what that word means.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Highway of My Own

Today I got to assign a number for an addition to the Texas state highway system. How awesome is that?!

Of course my first choice was State Spur 42. Unfortunately, there's already a State Loop 42 and it turns out we don't duplicate numbers between spurs and loops. I'm bummed, because that would have been really amazingly cool, so cool you could store a side of meat in it for a week; besides which, the usual mental state of my supervisor tends to keep the Hitchhiker's Guide near the tip of my brain.

Don't Panic.

But I digress! Anyway, I looked over a few other permutations and finally figured out I could use my own initials as the designation to submit for official rubber-stamping, I mean approval.

If you're ever driving down State Spur 357 in Goree, Texas, think fondly of me.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Karma Police

There's nothing else quite like a middle school orchestra concert to convince you that you clearly did something very, very bad in a past life.

Tonight's was a doozy, because it was the last concert of the year, and the teacher divided her class up into around twenty small ensembles who performed about a five-minute piece each; and you had to stay through the whole thing because she was giving out awards at the end. Mercifully, Anna lost consciousness around the fourth piece on the program. I should have been so lucky.

Katie came back to sit with us in tears after her performance because she had flubbed the cello line and the group had to start the piece over. I tried telling her that really, when it comes to middle school string players, they don't sound any worse messing up than they do playing correctly; but this didn't seem to comfort her very much. She did perk up a little when I pointed out my ex-husband's insufferable sister-in-law sitting two rows ahead of us, apparently reading a beauty magazine. "I don't think it's helping," I whispered to Katie, who giggled.

The awards were almost worse. Who would have thought a middle school orchestra could have so many, many members?! Several of them got multiple certificates. Every time I thought the teacher was done, she'd reach behind her and pick up another thick stack of certificates from the stage. I glanced at the elderly couple sitting in front of me and wondered if they had been young when we arrived.

We're home now, and Katie is feeling better; and Anna is awake, not that she seems very happy about it. I can hardly blame her. Whatever it was that I did... I'm so sorry...

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Strange Phenomena

Obviously you've seen this before, and I'm not showing you anything new. But no one's day is complete without feathery, pink, disapproving alien bovines and an incredibly cool skatting dude I'd like to invite to break.

This post is dedicated to Robbie. I'm sure I needn't explain why.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Why I Don't Have Caller ID at Work

One of the guys I work with always ends his phone conversations with, "Well, I'm going to let you go now." The phrase is deeply gracious; the implied meaning is, "I would love to continue this conversation with you, but I realize you have more important things to do with your time than talk to me; so I'll make the sacrifice of getting off the phone now."

But he always says it so abruptly that I'm pretty sure he's cutting off the other person in mid-sentence.

After about seven panicked phone calls from my supervisor today, all of them interrupting me and hindering the work that she was calling to check up on, I kind of take his point.

Justin and I were agreeing this weekend that "I'm going to let you go now" has been used to death, as a means of ending a phone conversation. We were bandying about ideas for a few different approaches.

You could take "I'm going to let you go" to the level of unmitigated groveling: "I'm just not worthy to talk to you. Please - I know you mean to be kind, but you're only embarrassing me."

There's the brutally honest approach: "I'm tired of talking now. Goodbye!" and the even more brutally honest approach: click

You could dust off that pop psychobabble you haven't yet managed to forget from the 90s: "This conversation has really helped me grow as a person, but I feel that I've reached a stage in my development where it's time to let go and move on." Or just break it off cold: "I really think we should talk to other people."

You could feign amnesia. "Wait a minute - what were we talking about? -- Where am I?? --Who are you?!?" Or an emergency. "Oh my God! My car/iPod/pancreas/great-uncle just spontaneously combusted!"

And of course there's always the imperious, "I grow weary of you. Begone!"

I'm thinking of trying all of these in rotation on my supervisor until she just stops calling.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Look, I Did Something!

It's Miller Time!*

*Just kidding.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Day Tripper

Sometimes you wake up in the morning and think to yourself, "You know what? I think I'll just get in my car and go to College Station and see Justin!"

Well, at least sometimes I do.

Justin gave me the grand tour of his neighborhood (historic South College Station, which he modestly demurred is not really all that historic) and the A&M campus, where they're much more progressive than I would have imagined, inasmuch as they are unusually willing to name major buildings after Quentin Tarantino movies. There weren't as many bonfires as I had expected, but we did encounter a knot of twenty or so people cheering, on the sidewalk, for no readily apparent reason besides the sheer joy of being Aggies. We were bemused. A passerby stopped and informed us that he was just down from Manhattan and they were frightening him.

"A heroic panel over the side entrance symbolizes petroleum exploration," reads part of a historic plaque on one of the engineering buildings. How often do you get to read a sentence like that? We felt that it bore repeating, so we went inside and wrote it on one of the chalkboards in an empty lecture arena.

In College Station, people have rhinos as lawn ornaments. That's just the kind of town it is.

Justin took me to dinner at Blue Baker, where they will actually give you free food if you paint yourself blue, reasoning, I suppose, that Blue Man Group lives in a whole nother state and hardly ever comes to College Station on tour. Then he made me put on my sunglasses so I could meet his friend "bigger lenses," who really ought to show up to break one day. Our day complete, I headed back home and he went to start on a paper that's due Monday, which I kept him away from working on by visiting, so wish him luck with it, will you? Something about conflict resolution. I'd help out, but it's probably my worst subject.

I'm ready to go back next weekend.

Labels: , , , , ,

Help! Help! I'm Being Possessed!

Apparently Satan takes human form by kidnapping a health nut whose body he wants to inhabit, offering that person nothing but enchiladas, doughnuts, and cheeseburgers to eat so that within 30 days the victim dies of starvation, and Satan can move in and walk among us.

The inevitable theological question is, why would such an evil, loathsome creature - in his native state, ten feet tall, flabby, and wormlike, ugly and disgusting, oozing pus from every pore, so fearsome a sight that a human cannot look upon him and live - why would such a creature keep a tastefully-framed photograph of himself on the desk in his office?

Dreams are weird.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, May 04, 2007

Better Than Grackle Sex

Do you ever think your life would be improved if you had a soundtrack? How about a laugh track?

Obviously, everyone's life would be much better if they only had an entourage following them around and playing their theme song. Then again, if you had to pay for all your entourage's meals, it could get a bit pricey. I suppose theme song posses really do have to eat.

I'm kind of fixated on the idea of a laugh track, though, just at the moment; which is unfortunate as I'm sure studio audiences are a smidge larger, and therefore hungrier, than theme song posses. I also want to be sure I can send them off to grab a burger (on their own dime) in the eventuality that Interesting Developments should ever take place; whereas a theme song posse, you know, would be particularly welcome in that situation. Especially if they are well-versed in the Kama Sutra. Laugh tracks are never welcome in the bedroom. But I digress!

My son just showed me this video, and I have to admit that it does beat grackle sex. Then again, most things do.

Styling dance moves are for the birds.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Once Upon a Time

A brave and handsome knight, mounted on a white charger, has been battling a mighty dragon. He's defeated it: the dragon lies, gasping wisps of smoke, at his horse's feet. A single, final blow from his sword would dispatch the beast.

But the knight doesn't kill it. What is he waiting for? He circles the dragon, which, being immortal, cannot die until the fatal blow is delivered. Every so often the dragon recovers enough strength to spit a few gouts of flame from its nostrils; the knight stabs at it, and it subsides.

If the knight abandoned his quest now, and rode off home to his kingdom and his reward, the dragon would recover and live to ravage another day. If the knight stabbed the weakened beast to the heart, it would die. But he does neither; merely circles, endlessly, giving the creature an occasional poke with his sword. Days pass; weeks; months. Perhaps years?

Meanwhile, back at the castle, a certain fair princess isn't getting any younger. The status of her virginity is anybody's guess.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sunny Day

Robbie is working on a presentation for a conference we're holding in July. He was working on just one half of it, and my former cube neighbor A was working on the other half. But she quit suddenly a few weeks ago; and it turns out that she hadn't really done anything on her half anyway. So he now has to do the whole thing, and he's working like a trooper and doing an amazing job, and I'm not just saying that because he might read this and I owe him lunch.

Rather oddly, our supervisor appears to be blaming him for not being finished so close to the deadline (though his half, before A. quit, was finished ahead of schedule). She's also putting a lot of extra pressure on him and snapped at him recently for a single brief lapse in organization, which only occurred when the whole burden was initially dumped on him.

Competence will come back to bite you in the ass every time.

The second half of the presentation requires a full complement of illustrative photographs, and because we're under such a tight deadline, another coworker and I went out into the field to take them today. The weather conditions were, perhaps, not completely ideal for photography. It's been either heavily overcast or pouring. I found myself photographing asphalt under a dark and lowering sky much of the day. It's very much like watching grass grow, but still beats sitting around in the office.

What's funny is that the first half of the presentation, being done in plenty of time, has photographs taken under ideal weather conditions. All the pictures are clear and bright, sunny and cheerful. The second half of the presentation is going to look as if it was put together by Tolstoy.

Anguished Russian authors had vodka to assuage their Weltschmerz, or whatever the Russian equivalent is. I, on the other hand, have kind friends who find for me the things that I couldn't. I come out way ahead, especially seeing as how I wasn't all that anguished to begin with.

Thanks for once again making my day.

Labels: , , , , , , ,