Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's resolutions

Despite mocking by certain friends who will remain nameless, I have made New Year's resolutions for 2009. And also some guidelines. (I know you are wondering what the difference is between the two: resolutions are measurable and guidelines are, well, guidelines.) (And having just read that statement, I realize that I may be even nerdier than I am currently accepting.) 

First, the resolutions:
1) Keep the 10-ish pounds I lost since the summer off. Sure, I'd love to add to the loss, but I'll be happy just to stay where I'm at. For now.
2) Go out at least once during the week. Even if it's just to grab dinner and/or a drink. But at least once each week, get out of the apartment. Weekends don't count.
3) Join the 19th century literature bookclub. This one has the bonus of helping me stick to #2.
4) Try one new recipe a week. I've got a whole stack of recipes to try out, but there's always a reason to stick with the old standbys. Or not cook at all. 

Now, the guidelines:
1) Less caffeine. I have been hitting the coffee at a much higher rate these days. Sure, it's toughened up my stomach, and, for the first time in years, I may have had a Christmas where I wasn't throwing up by noon. But, really, I should cut back on the caffeine. At least a little. 
2) Exercise more. Yes, I should have made this a resolution where I specify the amount of exercise I will do. But I'm not going to. I'm going to keep it vague.
3) Get rid of some of my shit. No, seriously, I have way too much stuff. Stop by; I might give you a sofa.
4) More yes, less no. This is a carryover from the mid-life crisis, but it's always a good idea to remind myself.

That should do me. I thought I had five resolutions, but I can't remember the 5th. That's not a good start.

Anyway, happy new year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I made it through the month-o-posting and this is the 60th posting to this blog. In honor of these milestones (of sorts), I am just going to tell you some various randomness that isn't enough for whole posts. So, we both win!

On the walk to work, I have to cross one major road. Until recently, the crosswalk just had its usual cycle of the light with the walk/don't walk sign coming up appropriately. A few weeks ago they activated the button to "help" you cross the street. As far as I can tell, the button doesn't change anything -- the light still takes forever -- except (1) if you don't hit it in time, you don't get your "walk" sign and (2) there's some creepy, distant voice, mumbling something at you (at least I hope it's coming from the crosswalk.) So, thanks for the button!

Now that I'm working earlier hours (I shifted to 7-4), it feels like my own personal daylight savings time. Of course it helps that it's been sunny the past two days. The only downside is that I'm so used to eating dinner when I get home from work, I'm now hungry at 4:15. 

I'm very excited about the 19th century bookclub I'm joining in January. I tend to be anti-bookclub, as I've always read for private reasons, just reading on my own and coming to my own conclusions. I also am not a fan of the assigned reading; I tend to have a shelf (maybe 3 shelves) of books-to-read and then pick based on my mood. But this group seems aggressively nerdy, so I'm all on it.

I'm still annoyed at the stagers. I know, I've got to let it go. 

I think it would be good for me to go on a bender. I think it might be good to let go of control. Of course, as I consider this, I am thinking about how to have a controlled bender: where it should be, who I should be with, etc. I have issues.

As I was driving back from Ohio, I passed so many exits for Civil War battlefields, and I starting thinking about Cliff. I may have been a little bit weepy.

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Nana rocked!

Let me tell you about my nana. My nana was so awesome. Oh, your nana might be pretty cool, but mine was the best. My nana taught me many important things. She taught me to drink vodka ("they can't smell it on your breath.") She taught me to always have a back-up (a lesson given to me when I started dating. You can think about that for a minute. And, thanks, Nana!) Most importantly, she taught me how to grow old.

After Papa died, Nana went through a period where she was definitely depressed. I remember my parents just taking her places and she just kind of went along. But at some point, she changed. She started embracing the idea of "sure, what the hell!" And she found out that life was fun. Because she was having fun and enjoying herself, more folks would invite her places. "Wanna stay at Uncle Carl's for 2 weeks?" "Sure, why not?" "Wanna go to the Triangle Tavern?" "I'll get my coat." It wasn't just the family and friends; I saw total strangers respond to her. One night at the Triangle, the table next to us sent Nana a Mudslide ("We thought you might like to try one of these") and another table sang her "We're Strong for Toledo" after seeing her Medhens t-shirt.

Watching Nana, I saw that attitude made a difference. Nana just had a good time. Let's contrast this with my Aunt Lil. Aunt Lil was actually one of my favorite relatives when I was younger, but, somehow, Aunt Lil turned into a bitter, nasty old lady. And it was a chore to even stop by to visit. But Nana was fun!

I miss my Nana. She never doubted me and she always thought I did the right thing. Nana, you rock!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

So glad he won

I've noticed that most people I know do not refer to Obama by his name. It's just "he." Like, "When I heard he won, I cried." It's this weird sort of intimacy. I kind of love how there's an assumption that you'll know exactly who they're talking about. "Oh, I think he'll do a great job!" 

It's nice to have a president that people are actually excited about. I really can't remember what that is like. I knew some people who were excited when Reagan was elected, but more like "I'm excited for business because Reagan is president", not so much about Reagan himself. Maybe I just don't remember. Were people excited about Reagan? I really doubt that anyone was excited about the Bushes. 

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tom Petty changed my life

When I was 21, my dad got transferred to the Philadelphia area. I had just graduated from college and was ready to start my teaching career in Toledo. Before school started for me, my family went house hunting, and we made it into the family vacation. The Piggie siblings took a separate car so that we could go site-seeing while Mom and Pops looked at expensive, East-coast houses.

At this point, I wasn't sure if I wanted to move out East. In fact, I was thinking that I wouldn't be moving. I had my friends, I liked living in Toledo, I could visit my family. But it was fun to see Philadelphia and to consider it. Anyway, for whatever reason, my brother decided that we should go to see the Tom Petty concert at the Spectrum that night. He was in town and we weren't doing anything else. We found a Ticketmaster (ah, remember those days when you had to buy your tickets at a Ticketmaster), and that night we were on our way into the city. 

I remember being at that concert and thinking, I could do this. I could move out here and I would really like it. Tom Petty concerts every night! I'm not sure why, but it was like seeing a new way to go through life. I could just buy a ticket and go! I could explore new areas and it might be a lot of fun. That's when I really started considering moving out of Toledo. And leaving Toledo changed my life in so many ways. I know I wouldn't have gone to grad school if I stayed in Toledo. I would've probably stuck with teaching, which really doesn't suit me. I'm an East-coast girl -- I just didn't know that when I lived in the Midwest. 

And that's how Tom Petty changed my life.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Past

When I was growing up, Christmases followed a very specific pattern. Christmas Eve, we started off going to Grandma and Grandpa Campbell's. I felt this was a good choice to get them out of the way as (a) these were the "boring" relatives and (b) they gave fairly lame gifts. It was always a fairly quiet start to the night, even in later years when the events moved to Aunt Tina's (a/k/a Butterfly -- sadly, I am not making that up.) An hour or so hanging out with the Campbells, and then it was off to the Majkas. Good Lord, the Majkas. 

Every single year, the front steps were an absolute sheet of ice. I swear that my Uncle Henry must've come down ahead to time to pour water on the stairs. It was deadly. Just to explain, Hank and Sally lived in a duplex with Hank's mom (Busia, of course). We would start downstairs at Busia's and work our way upstairs. Everyone would pack into the living room, the television cranked up to 11, at least 10 conversations happening at once, everyone shouting in Polish and English at each other. Woody and Nana would be drunk already, Mom would be pissed that Nana was drunk already. Hank would offer us a drink that was all ice cubes and about an ounce of soda. God forbid you ask for seconds. "Another one?!") It was a hundred degrees and noisy and overwhelming. 

The most annoying thing: one of the Majka cousins was also a November birthday. Although she was a year older than me, she started school the same time I did. So, although she was in the same grade as me, she was a year older. In the first grade, she needed glasses but they didn't figure it out right away, so she got held back. So she's a year older but a grade behind. I'm sure you've figured it out. Not the Majkas. "How old are you?" "10." "What grade are you in?" "Fourth." "Wait a minute, Gail is 11 and in the third grade. Are you sure?" Yes, you are right; I am unsure of my age and my grade. Why must I go through this every year?

Somehow, everyone would get the magic signal and go upstairs, for more of the same. More shouting, more of everything (except something to drink.) Then it was time to head out to midnight mass. It would seriously take my mom an hour to get out the door. We would be in our coats, waiting, waiting, my mom acting like she was headed off to war. All of a sudden, we had to run off to mass. 

Midnight mass at CORC: one of my favorite things. Awesomely weird Christmas carols, folks from the past showing up, all candle light. It was so fantastic to have this hour and half (or more) of calm and beauty after all the chaos. I just loved that church. 

The next day was at our house. Morning was time for presents, then running around getting ready for everyone to come over. Much better than the previous day.

You know, when I was growing up, I always thought that it was all too crazy and too loud. There were years that I really couldn't stand it. But after we moved, I realized that I missed it. I missed the pattern, as crazy as it was. Our future Christmases were without an identity. Maybe it's easier to romanticize the situation, being removed from it, but I miss the nuttiness.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Pick it up!

When I was a kid, a big part of family gatherings was playing cards. Learning how to play poker was your ticket to out of the kids table. This is why I was playing poker at the age of 6. I loved playing poker with the family. Uncle Carl would swear too much, Papa would accuse Hank of cheating, Nana would bump up the pot, and we'd all fold because she never bet unless she had a fabulous hand. Good times. And it was every family gathering. I won over a dollar in the game that was played after Papa's funeral. We still play on occasion, but poker was really part of my grandparents' generation.

Poker wasn't the only card game that was around. My parents played bridge with about a thousand different groups. (I could never figure out the betting but was great at getting tricks.) (Yeah, that just sounds dirty.) Hearts, which I still refuse to play with my family (too many fights). Mom, Nana, and I used to play three-way pinochle, until Mom accused us of cheating and threw the cards at us. And then there's stupid man's bridge: Euchre. The best card game ever.

If you don't know what euchre is, well, I guess you've never been to a frat party in the Midwest. It is one of the easiest games ever. Okay, Indian poker is the easiest and stupidest game ever, but euchre is not too far off. I've see euchre played with two people who were completely wasted and one who had never played before, and still a good game. Euchre is awesome because it's fast, simple, has a bit of strategy, and cheating is expected. There are variations (no-trump, screw-the-dealer) which should be established at the beginning. It's played at parties, in line, wherever you've got 4 idiots from the Midwest and a half deck of cards. (Oh, you can't play euchre with a full deck -- that makes it all complicated-like.) Sigh. I miss euchre.

I'm finding as I get older, my card-sense is disappearing. I used to be able to evaluate the games a lot quicker and it was more instinctive to me. Mr. Higgy-Piggie still thinks it's impressive when I watch poker on tv and can tell him right away what each player need ("ooh, he needs a 9 or the 3 of clubs!"), but it seems like I have to think about it more. I kind of hate that. And I know that bridge would be a struggle.

Well, Merry Christmas to all! No poker tonight and that kind of makes me sad.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twitter to Ohio

If I was twittering the ride to Ohio, it might go something like this:
7:10 am: Out the door, off to Target. Shut up, like you're so organized.
7:50 am: Done with Target. Hunting coffee. Helpful hint from worker: Barnes and Noble opens at 9 and they have a Starbucks. Thanks?
7:58 am: Waiting for Corner Bakery (a chain store?) to open. Why does a place that sells coffee and baked goods not open until 8?
8:01 am: Service here makes Starbucks look snappy. 
8:05 am: heading out. Finally.
8:25 am: Rain, rain, rain. 
8:45 am: Having that weird panic that I have the first time a take a route: Am I going the right way? West, right?
9:something: crossing into Pennsylvania. Ah, it's always good to be above the Mason-Dixon. Later, Waffle House.
Shortly after: try to call Bru. No luck.
10-ish: Now that I have "The Modern Lovers" newly uploaded to my ipod, I have two versions of "Pablo Picasso." I'll bet you can't say that.
10-ish later: I am on the PA turnpike and the sign states that there will be no rest stops for 116 miles. Really, PA? Really? So, I better stop. News: coffee makes me, um, have to stop.
Next: Quick stop. Grab a water. 
11:00: More driving, more rain. 
12:10: Seriously, the worst rest stop ever. The only food: McDonald's. A McDondald's with no grilled chicken, even. Service: S-L-O-W. And an almost fight between a customer and an annoyed worker. Big puddles in front of the gas pumps. Gas pumps keep splashing back and turning off. I'm already hating you, Ohio.
12:30: Hate driving in the rain. At least it's not snow, but then, again, if it snowed that much, I'd probably be in Maryland.
1-ish: Getting really annoyed at driving in the rain. It's just tiring.
2:30: Arrive at the parents. As the rain starts to let up. Of course.

Happy holidays, y'all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I should drink more

I've never had a hangover. I assume I'd know what one is like if I had one. And I'm pretty sure I've had enough to drink that I should have a hangover. Yet, nothing but regrets. No headache, no upset stomach, no dizziness. 

I've heard enough about hangovers to know that if you wake up the next day a bit sleepy because you got to bed late and the room was spinning, that's not a hangover. A hangover is green around the gills. Maybe I haven't drank enough. Although I've had enough to get sick and I've certainly had enough to do a few things I've wished I hadn't done.

I'll admit, I don't drink much. It's that control-freak thing. Maybe I haven't had hangover-worthy quantities. Maybe I should let go, go on a bender, test the no-hangover theory. Although I doubt I can let go for that long.

Monday, December 22, 2008


It occurs to me that there are a lot of things I do (or think) that I follow with the phrase "...and that's why I'm going to hell." I don't know if this is a good thing. Although admitting you have a problem is the first step.

The thing that brought it on the other day it was babies in the office. Seriously, though, why do people bring their babies to the office? Babies don't like work. Babies don't like offices. Babies don't like cubicles (much). And if there is a baby at work, you can either pretend that it's so totally awesome that the baby is there (and, therefore, the person who brought the baby thinks, "yay, everyone loves to see the baby!") or ignore the baby -- then you're the bitch. 

Okay, not liking babies in the office isn't really the reason that I'm going to hell (although it probably isn't helping). The reason I'm going to hell is because I'm making an issue of it. And, as I am making an issue of it, I am thinking, "let it go." But no. I am choosing to rant against babies. I am making this big issue over a 10 minute disruption by a baby. 

I have issues.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Be very quiet, I'm hunting houses

The hunt for a house has begun. I'm already exhausted and somewhat sick of the whole thing. I really have very little patience for house hunting. It's somewhat surprising, as I tend to over-ponder my decisions. And, yet, the two houses we've bought have been basically impulse buys.

The house in Hatboro was one we drove past one night. "Ooh, look! Stop, get the number." We weren't even looking to move at the time, but there it was. It was not the best time to buy. I was still in grad school, we had a townhouse to sell, but we bought it anyway. While we were trying to sell the townhouse, before we actually could buy the house, Mr. Higgy Piggie got laid off. Sigh. But it all worked out, and we got the house.

When we went to buy the next house, I swore I would actually look for a house. I knew I wanted to be closer to work, and Newtown seemed just about right. Before we got our agent, we went for a drive around the area. One of the first places we checked out was some new construction, although it seemed really expensive. We then met with a realtor, who gave us a list of houses to check out. The  next weekend, we drove around, I got depressed, and we just got the new construction. Yeah, I'm that lazy.

At least this time, I've seen a few houses, gone to a few neighborhoods, and I actually feel like I am researching this purchase. I suppose it's the least I could do, but, it is just exhausting me. I am such a baby. 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Karaoke Tunes

I think that, on your list of favorite songs, you need to have at least one song you would perform at a karaoke bar. Yeah, yeah, you're never going to sing karaoke. I get it. And if anyone should not sing karaoke, it's me. I have a terrible voice. I will never be singing in front of a crowd. Ever. No really. Not enough booze in the world. But I do have a karaoke song. You know, just in case.

I believe a good karaoke song has a few key elements: (1) It should be relatively well known. You need to get that crowd on your side and they probably won't rally behind "Yellow Pills." (2) It should have a portion of the song where the crowd will want to sing along or participate. (3) It should be a song that's easy to sing. Don't try that crazy Mariah Carey number. You just can't do it. You really do not have the pipes. (And don't be fooled by any Queen songs -- Freddy Mercury had a damn fine voice. You will not be able to pull it off.)

For a while, my karaoke song was "Living on a Prayer." It has all the elements, plus you probably can't go wrong with Bon Jovi, especially living near New Jersey. But recently, I've rediscovered "It Never Rains in Southern California" and that is my karaoke song. If you haven't listened to it for a while (and, really, why would you unless you were an idiot like me), give it a spin. Well, you got to get past the flute. It's a great song, prefect for karaoke. And everyone can sing along with the chorus. But, it's mine, so no stealing.

I think some country artist (not too country) needs to redo it. It would be fabulous as a country tune. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tales of Christmas Present

When we lived in Toledo, Christmas had a definite pattern. I suppose you could call them traditions, although I think that implies handing down through generations, whereas this was more just what we did every year while I was growing up. More on that another day, when I'm feeling more nostalgic. 

After we moved, we lost our pattern to Christmas. A part of it was that we were getting older, but it was mostly being away from the extended family, the church we had always attended, the things we had grown up with. We tried to establish some sort of pattern, but it never took. It was all very frustrating, and, of course, you look around and think everyone else is having this great time at Christmas, surrounded by friends and family, and you are stuck with a bunch of people you don't know at this church that plays the wrong Christmas carols. It was just depressing.

Now that Andrea and my parents are back in Ohio, a bit of a pattern is emerging. A part of it involves Andrea's in-laws, who have the Christmas traditions they've been following forever: Christmas Eve at Dom's parents, Christmas Day at Aunt Diane's, that sort of thing. I have no problem with that, in fact, I'm a bit jealous, but when we go there, we hang of the outskirts, looking in. I tend to avoid these gatherings, as they emphasize my feelings of being an outsider. However, they have given us a framework for our holiday, and something to work off of. 

The one thing that stuck around throughout all the years is my dad's insane need for fresh kielbasa at breakfast Christmas morning. This was actually a surprisingly difficult request when we lived in Pennsylvania. You would go to the meat counter and they'd try to give you the smoked nonsense, packaged in plastic. Oh, please! This is not grey meat! Fresh kielbasa is both incredibly nasty and awesome. The spices, the fat, the fact that it takes about 5 hours to cook properly and then your house smells like the stuff for about 3 weeks. Luckily, we found a local place that made it (Illg's), so Christmas was saved! Every year, Christmas breakfast: fresh kielbasa. And about 2 hours later, I am throwing that stuff up. I swear, I cannot remember the last Christmas with my family that I was not purging by noon. (Family joke: "I'm feeling Illg's.") 

The Campbell family holiday tradition: greasy meat and vomiting. It's a wonderful life.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nosing around other people's lives

I like to read other folk's blogs. There are a number of blogs I read regularly, and I do not know a single one of these people personally. But I keep up with these people and their lives. There's Expat Mike, who doesn't post too regularly, but every post is a jewel. The latest involves a taste test of sodas he bought in Macau. The folks on "It's Lovely! I'll Take It!" make looking for a house both better and worse than it actually has been, and "Overheard in the Office" always makes me laugh out loud.

I've been reading Elyse Sewell's for quite a while. For those who don't know, she was on the first season of ANTM (go look it up, if you don't know, but, seriously, if you're looking it up, you may be reading the wrong blog.) Now, if you've looked up "ANTM", you may be looking down your nose at my taste in blogs. Do not judge! You will love it. It's random and funny and so very, very awesome.

I read blogs started by various folks associated with Television without Pity. These folks are all really interesting writers and very funny. Reading all these blogs makes me want to write better. They also show me that clever goes pretty far.

And one that I just found: sexypeople-blog. Bliss!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My red ipod

Oh, little red ipod, why must you torment me so? I know you have over 900 songs on you and, yet, you keep playing certain favorites. Why are there songs you never play for me? I've given them to you with the hope that they would brighten my day by plying them, but you guard these songs with secrecy. Is it that hard to throw some Aimee Mann into the mix? 

Oh, little red ipod, what is your obsession with X and The Monkees? Sure, I was excited to get "Make the Music Go Bang!" but now you're just making me resent that purchase. Okay, yes, I do love John Doe and, sure, he could sing the phone book and I'd be happy to hear it, but give the guy a rest. And The Monkees, they are there just for that now and again childhood nostalgia. If you don't play nice, I'm going to have to take them away.

Oh, little red ipod, I know it's probably not all your fault. Clearly, you had issues from the start. You were always a fan of the two-fer, but this two-in-a-row behavior did make me doubt your "random" function. If I have given you only five Neil Diamond songs, what are the odds you play two in a row if it's truly random? Sure, it might happen every so often, but how are you picking two Beastie Boys tunes a few songs later? I know, it's probably Apple being "helpful" again. Oh, little red ipod, don't listen to Steve Jobs! You know that it's nothing but trouble.

However, little red ipod, you are not without your sense of humor. "Up All Night" followed by "I'm Only Sleeping"?! You little trickster. But a little less X, a little more Elvis (sure, either one), and I think we'll both be happy. And maybe stay away from Rage Against the Machine at work. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

They're writing songs of love, but not for me

When I was at dinner with Steven, we got on the topic of my ex-boyfriends (as one does). I mentioned that I get along with most of them, and he pointed out that I was always good that way. Of course, it got me thinking about why this is the case.

At first I started with the basics: I never really had a nasty, terrible break-up. (Sure, they weren't any fun, but nothing really nasty.) And I've always maintained that, if I cared for these guys on some level, I'm not going to stop caring about them just because we're no longer dating. I've got some really great ex-boyfriends: smart, funny guys doing impressive stuff -- engineers, professors, scientists, etc. (I may have a bit of a type). I'm in touch with a number of them and I like to hear what's new with them. But then I started wondering if there wasn't more to it than not-nasty break-ups and the occasional e-mail.

A few years ago, I stumbled upon this in my reading: "Why are old lovers able to become friends? Two reasons: They never really loved each other, or they love each other still." Thinking about that, I think, for most of my relationships, it's actually both. While on some level I really do care about many of my exes, it occurs to me that I've never really had a passionate relationship either. One that is just pure emotion, just craziness. Boombox over your head in the rain frenzy -- not happening to me. Which is probably why it's never lead to that nasty break-up, that tearing up of one's heart. I think the kind of love I am prone to is that steady but not-too-exciting love, but not deep, crazy passion.

I know that a big part of the reason this sort of passion has not happened to me is my fault. I do guard my emotions and I really don't let go. This is not an easy thing to accept, this unwillingness to trust another person, to be that vulnerable. I tell myself that this sort of craziness doesn't really last, and maybe only exists in movies, but sometimes I wish...

So, I'll probably never get the love songs. But I will have the friendships. Is this what I want? Depends on the day. Ask me tomorrow, you might get a different answer.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Revolutionary Road

A couple of years ago I read "Revolutionary Road" by Richard Yates. I don't even remember why I picked it, but I absolutely loved the book. It's sad and awful and fantastic. Easily in my top ten. And it's one of those little-known books, ones of those books people just haven't heard about. Even my brother, the PhD in literature, had never heard of it. Of course, I recommend the book to all my reader friends, especially those who also watch "Mad Men" (which is really the perfect show to match with the book.)

Now it is being made into a "major motion picture" with Kate Winslet and Leonardo DeCaprio. Now, I love Kate Winslet, and she's really a perfect for the role. And I'm actually kind of excited that a lot more people are going to discover the book as a result of this movie. But I'm sort of protective of the book and I kind of don't like the fact that it's so "out there." That it's not longer my cool, secret book to recommend to everybody. 

There's not too many times I'm at the front end of a trend. Sure, I was in the Kiss Army in 1975 and I was digging the cartoons of Matt Groening in the early '80s, but I think that's about it in my list of being ahead of the crowd. So, just remember, I was digging "Revolutionary Road" before "Mad Men" and Kate made it cool.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Words of love

It's goofy but I really love (although I don't actually go to the site very often). What is it? It's this absolutely goofy thing (calling it a service is almost an exaggeration) where you sign up and they e-mail you a "note from the universe" every day, Monday through Friday. Here's an example:

Every challenge is a stepping stone to a happier place than you even knew existed. Oh, the magic,
The Universe
One day soon you will be exceedingly glad for this very path you now tread.

Yes, they are new-age-y, kind of silly little messages. But every morning, I open my e-mail and see what "The Universe" has sent me for the day (you get a bonus message on your birthday!) These notes make me happy. Sort of like a feel-good horoscope. 

Sign up. And be happy that The Universe is sending e-mail. 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My favorite thing about Christmas

Although this time of year has a lot of things to hate or, if nothing else, be annoyed by, there is one thing I love about Christmas: Christmas carols. No, really, I absolutely love Christmas carols. There is no such thing as a Christmas carol that is too dopey for me. I'm singin' along and lovin' it.

Part of the love comes from the Catholic thing: no Christmas carols during Advent, then Christmas Eve: Joy to the World! The church we attended in Toledo always had especially wonderful music at Christmas. Midnight mass was always freezing but great music. They would always hit the standards, but pull out some of the more unusual carols as well. Oh, CORC, you bunch of hippies, I'm missing you this time of year. 

I also loved when the Christmas music showed up in the band folder. Marching band season was over, the big fall concerts had passed, contests were still months away. Right around Thanksgiving: "Sleigh Ride"! Yippee! We'd play the standards (to this day, I love, love, love "A Christmas Festival") but some weird ones as well. One year we played this awesome piece called "Russian Christmas Music" -- just fantastic. Plus, Christmas concerts were lighter and more fun than other concerts. 

My love for Christmas carols is pretty much across the board. I love all the Phil Spector Wall-of-Sound nonsense, "Jingle Bell Rock", both the Drifters' and Bing Crosby's versions of "White Christmas", James Brown. Bring it on! 

But I freakin' hate the Springsteen Christmas songs.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Yay for today!

There are little things in life that just make me feel good. Like, when I get the oil changed, I'm good for another 5000 miles (I do a lot of highway driving), and, after I get my car inspected, I know I'm good for another year. (I don't think my life is all about car maintenance, so why are these my example?) Anyway, today is the day I look for every year: the day the sun starts setting later.

"Wait just a gosh-darned minute! Today is December 12th. December 21st is the shortest day of the year!" And you would be correct. But I am a dork, so I know that although December 21st provides you with the shortest amount of total daylight, there is a short period where the sun start setting later. The sun also rises later, which then leads to an overall shorter day (up until the 21st). For those keeping score at home, today the sun set one minute later than it did yesterday! Glorious!

It's really silly, but when the sun starts setting just a bit later, I feel like I'm winning. So, yay for today, my funny, little holiday!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

No time to post

Great dinner with a friend from high school and suddenly, the night is gone. I will post the sleeping cat instead, which is what I should be doing. Yes, I am lamely trying to keep the streak alive. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Something that makes me the way I am today

Everyone has those events in their life that shapes who they are and how they behave. I'm going to tell you about about one of mine. One night in December when I was in the 4th grade, my dad and I went to pick up my grandpa. It was snowing, and on the way home, it got pretty bad. The car got stuck in the snow, but we were only a few blocks away, so my dad told me to just walk home with Papa while he dug out the car. Although it wasn't too long of a walk, it was in fairly deep snow, so it took a lot longer and was a lot harder walk than either of us expected. But we got home. I was so excited, I ran up the driveway. My mom was waiting for us and gave me a hard time for running ahead: "Go help Papa get up the driveway." Of course, I went back to him, but he was already most of the way up the driveway. And that would have been the end of it. Except the following week Papa had a heart attack and died.

I have to admit, I was probably a lot older than I should have been when I finally accepted that I didn't actually kill my grandpa. But I don't think I'll ever get over that I could have anticipated that there was something I could have done to help. I know that this is a big part of my control-freak nature. Of course, it's absolutely ridiculous to think that if I had held his hand walking up the driveway, he wouldn't have had that heart attack. But, deep down inside, I know there is a part of me that says, "but what if it would have made the difference." 

I do sort of live my life anticipating the possible problems, trying to solve them before they happen. I keep a change of clothes at work, spare shoes, snack bars, safety pins. Why, yes, I do have tweezers/a Sharpie/a sewing kit. A friend once told me that I was the person she would want to get trapped in an elevator with -- I'd have food and probably a deck of cards. Yesterday, I had a minor panic attack when I realized that all of my spare keys to my car are up in Pennsylvania. (If you don't think that that's crazy enough, the reason I thought this was because, if my purse got stolen, I would not have a spare set.) But it is tiring. I wish I could let go just a little bit. 

But I did run ahead that once. And, yes, I may be crying right this minute.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Really, American History Museum?

The National Museum of American History is reopened, and this afternoon I went to check it out. Disclaimer: I only had about an hour, so not too much checking. First thing I did: checked out the Gettysburg Address, which is on display until the end of the year. I'll admit it, not too exciting. But it was there, I was there, we both had time to kill, and, well, you know how these things are. (A slightly amusing side note, this particular document hall was named for Albert Small. So it was the Albert Small Document Hall. I kept thinking of small documents -- okay it's not that amusing...) (tee-hee).

As the small document hall didn't take too long, continued to do some exploring, see what they did with the place. And they still have that awful statue of George Washington. What the hell is up with that? The least they could have (should have) done was gotten rid of the thing. Okay, actually, the least they could've done is move it into a far corner or covered it with a big blanket. But, no, there it is, all ugly and awful and embarrassing for poor George Washington. I don't know why, but I saw that statue, and I was instantly exhausted with the whole museum. 

In all fairness to the Museum, I know that they have to keep some things there because the tourists want to see the things they saw as kids (I'm talking about you, Fonzie's jacket). But wouldn't it be nice to surprise us now and again?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hello kitty

Yes, we have a cat. Before that, we had two cats. I like having a pet and a cat makes more sense than a dog since we travel and work, etc. It's a furry, four-legged animal that we keep in the house. This does not make me a "cat person." This does not make me dislike dogs. And it most certainly does not make me want things with cats on them.

As soon as we got the cats, I started getting birthday cards with kitties on them. Calendars with cats, Christmas ornaments, little decorations, etc., all with cats. Really? Did I become that girl? Because I thought I just got a pet, not ideas for the gifts I will get for the rest of my life. And the cat stuff is especially bad. Pastel-ly, flowery nonsense. I don't understand how people who know me think that, because I have a cat, I suddenly like this sort of thing. 

No one has gotten me any "hello kitty" stuff, so that's something. Although some of that stuff is actually kind of cute. (A quick check of the "hello kitty" website has taught me that you can buy a "hello kitty" Flip camcorder! Awesome! You can also get diamond earrings that cost over $2000. Plus they're really ugly.)

So, with Christmas coming: no cat stuff. Thanks.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Open Houses

Today we did the open house frenzy. It's just overwhelming. I'm such a dork -- before we hit the road, I got our list together, found them on the map, listed the coordinates on the map for easy finding, so we could see as many houses as possible. Of course, after you see a few houses, they all start to blend together. And my energy level goes into the negative region.

It doesn't help that there are houses that look okay on-line are not-so-much when you see them in person. You're looking at it at home and it's like "ooh, look at the cute little thing!" and you get there and it's, "Hey, why doesn't this have a driveway?" In some ways this is a good thing. You pull up, you look, you say "no" and quickly move on. But then you panic that they will all be awful. 

One or two open houses are kind of fun -- a day of it is too much. They do tend to blend together. "Is that the single-guy's house or the one with the blue?" It always amazes me how people get "ready" to show their homes. Did you really thinking that little snake on the counter would help sell your house? Oh, don't bother cleaning up all those leaves; they add to the charm.

Anyway, after seeing a lot of houses, there's a part of me that is "a great house is out there" and a part that is "there's nothing but nightmares out there." I'm sure there will be some compromises, but I'm not ready to give up too much stuff yet. 

Saturday, December 6, 2008

3 Weeks

Three weeks ago I packed up my car and moved down here. I can't believe it's only been 3 weeks. It amazes me how quickly I've kind of gotten used to it all. It's not that I feel that this is my life and the way it's always going to be. But it's become comfortable and routine; it's like I've gotten used to this weird hotel-like existence. 

I'm surprised that I haven't been bored yet. In fact, not even close. By the time I get home, make a phone call or 2, catch up on e-mail, blog (well, now), have some dinner, do some stuff around the house, well, that's a night. (I know, the excitement is killing you.) I'm doing a few things during the week like going out to dinner or running errands (usually those are weekend activities for me). Next week, I'm planning to go into DC twice!

I've settled into the job pretty quickly. It's a new therapeutic area, but I'm working on the types of documents I know, so I'm pretty comfortable overall. The group is delightfully ornery, so that keeps me happy. Give me some snark during a meeting, and you've got my attention. The projects are starting to pile up and soon I will be busy, busy, busy. And I'm actually looking forward to it. I hate waiting for things to do.

I've got to start getting at least a little bit serious about the house hunting. This existence can't last too long. House hunting just makes me tired. So, for now, I'll enjoy the walk to work, the minimal cleaning, this weird existence.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Walking the walk

One of the best things about where I'm living now is that I can walk to work. It's not the nicest walk, and it's not the best time of year, but I'm still enjoying it. Most of the walk is through parking lots, and I have to cross a fairly major road (luckily, there is a crosswalk with a walk/don't walk sign). I'm not thrilled that the walk home is in the dark, but I'm sure it's safe. At least no less safe than walking to and from my car would be.

It takes me about 15-20 minutes, which is almost too short. It's not exercise, so I really should do more than just this walk to work. But it's a nice amount of time to clear my head or listen to music. If it were much longer, I'd probably make excuses to not walk (it's too cold, it might rain, etc.) For now, I've walked to work almost every day since I started. 

I'm always surprised that other people are surprised I walk to work. It's not far and it probably takes almost as long as driving. Anyway, I get to listen to my ipod and get some fresh air. I'll enjoy it while I can.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sticker shock!

In order to help sell our house, we are considering hiring people to "stage" the house. I know, hard to believe that's actually a job, but there you go. Anyway, they had come to the house a couple of weeks ago, taken a lot of pictures, and tonight they were ready for their presentation. (This is why we set up the iChat, if you're wondering.)

So, they walk us through their findings. First off, we have too much clutter. Really?! Yes, we know that. We're not putting the house up just yet. We know we need to clean our closets. You also may be surprised to hear that the litter boxes are not a good thing. Thanks. You are clearly an expert. Be sure you put that in your report. Anyway, they have a lot of suggestions which mostly fall into the categories "yeah, we meant to get to that" (Paint the garage, yep. New light fixtures, sure.) or clean up your shit (organize the linen closet, clean the windows, etc.) None of this is really a surprise.

So, what do they do to sell themselves as experts? Well, when you're ready to sell, they come in a day or two before you list and rearrange everything, add some decorations, that sort of thing. I will be the first to admit that this is not my strongest suit, so, okay, we need some like them for that. And they'll bring in some of their things, which, whatever. 

How much does all of this cost? If we sign up with them: $2900! No, I am not making that up. But, wait, there's more: if we use their stuff (which they basically said is going to happen), we have to pay extra to "rent" their stuff. Is there any guarantee that this will help sell our house? No. None at all. In fact, they get more money if you don't sell right away, because you are renting their stuff. 

Anyway, I'm a bit annoyed at the whole thing. Sure, I expected to pay more than I expected. But this is way more than I expected. Way more. To rearrange my furniture and tell me to clean my closets. For that kind of cash, you can do some cleaning. Or provide some vases without charging "rent". So, we definitely have to think about this.

On a side note: not having cable is resulting in me watching a lot of "Two and a Half Men." This is not helping my mood.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Adventures in iChat

So, we're trying to set up the iChat. First, you need an AIM account. Ugh. Off to the AIM site. Pick a name. Seriously, someone else has HiggyPiggie? And HiggyPiggy? It's a complete nonsense name that I starting using when I set up a fantasy sports team. And now someone else has it!? Jerk! Meanwhile, Mr. Higgy Piggie is going through the same thing. "I can't think of anything. This is stupid. What do you mean I can't start with a number? Why won't you take this name? Can't I have a period in there?"

So, I finally find a name to use. Now I got to fill out all the nonsense. I'm still listening to Mr. HP cuss as they keep rejecting his choices. ("What the hell is wrong with that one?!") I fill out the nonsense (or so I thought) and type in the crazy, blurry word. Error! Oh, I forgot one field. Type in the new annoying word. Error! ("Come on! That one's gotta work!" from Mr. HP.) Finally, I get it set up. Now onto the actual iChat program. Except it keeps kicking me to the website that advertises iChat. No! Meanwhile, Mr. HP has finally successfully picked a name and is now trying to register. "Is that a 9? Dammit! Another error?! I can't read that!" At this point, I'm hating technology. I tell Mr. HP to call me when it's all set up on his end and he can walk me through it.

I get a big glass of wine.

Mr. HP calls and has it set up. He walks me through the steps and, yay, we can see each other and hear each other. Unfortunately, my picture is up there as well (kind of picture-in-picture) and I realize that I blink a lot. Seriously, what is up with my eyebrows? It's hard to resist making faces. And rubbing my nose. So, I'm trying to figure out what the different buttons are and, of course, I hang it up. I don't remember Mr. HP's "name" and I can't figure out how to call him back, so I wait. And wait. And wait. Sigh. Phone call. Somehow, I had hit something and was "not available." Anyway, we get it working again. We "chat" a while, then it randomly hangs up. "No data." I have no idea. We connect again. We play with it a bit more. Yeah, I may have hung up on him a few more times.

So, I think we've got it working. We'll see tomorrow, when the realtor is meeting with us. I'm betting we have to go to the phone.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sometimes I can be girly

I'm not a particularly girly girl, but I do have a strange obsession with make-up. I have no idea where it came from and why I love it so. And, yet, Sephora! I am not a shopper, but I cannot go past a Sephora and not stop in (and most likely buy something). It's really a problem.

The weird thing is that I wasn't one of those girls who wanted to wear make-up when I was 12 or one of those girls who had to hide make-up in my locker to put it on when I got to school. Around the time I started high school, my mom took me to one of those places that taught you how to actually use the stuff, and that was that. I don't remember asking if I could wear make-up. And, even though I love the stuff, I've never worn a lot of make-up (although, for full disclosure, I did go through an unfortunate blue eye shadow phase. It was the '80s, so it wasn't entirely my fault.)

I sort of blame Nana. I once told her that when I started making money, I would buy good make-up. When I got my first "real" job, she reminded me of this. (I think she just wanted the freebees that came with buying Estee Lauder or Clinque make-up.) It's not really her fault, but I think of her when I overspend. And I do like having an excuse to thinking of my Nana.

I have this great lace-covered train case full of make-up in my closet. It smells so good. Lip balms, perfume samples, eye shadows, powders, funny little brushes. And I have the most ridiculous stuff. False eyelashes, green glitter eye liner, white eye liner (I'm not even sure what that one's about), lip balm that changes color depending on "your mood." All very practical. Alan Moses does like my green glitter eye liner, though.

Monday, December 1, 2008

This is not my beautiful house!

Living in my apartment is a weird thing. There's this feeling of going back in time. Am I really back to apartment living? Am I back in grad school? It's one of those things that, once you live in a house, you think you'll always live in a house. That you'll always have all that space. Now it's all so compact. Of course, on the flip side, every time I get groceries, I've got to haul them up to the third floor.

Yes, this is a temporary arrangement. Hopefully no more than 6 months. But 6 months is still a pretty long time. I'm renting furniture, which only increases the weirdness factor. It's not my comfy bed, and it's more coordinated than I would go. And more brown. It's single-guy furniture. Not that that's a bad thing, but it's not me.

Anyway, it's better than it was when I first moved in. We've rearranged the furniture, and I've brought some stuff from home that has made it feel more like mine, as opposed to some weird hotel. I'm tempted to bring more things in, but everything that gets moved in has to be moved out, so I'm trying to resist those temptations. 

I have a loft and I'll be damned if I have any idea what to do with it. It seems like a good idea, but then there's this spiral staircase...