Thursday, December 31, 2009

And it poured sweet and clear

Today I wished someone happy new year and they said that they hoped next year would be better. And I started thinking about my 2009. Do I want next year to be better? And after thinking about it for a bit, the answer is no. No way. Because although it's been a year of crazy highs and lows, I know that this is what I want. I want to look back and think, holy crap, a lot went on there! And, you know what? Most of it was good stuff!

Sure, there are things I never want to go through again. There are things I'd like to take back, things I'd change. There were periods I thought I'd explode due to stress. There were times I wish I could have just hit fast forward. But I'd go through it all again for the rest of this year. Because the good stuff, it was really good.

This year was technicolor. This year was an adventure. This year was more interesting than I'd ever hope, usually in a good way. I learned so many things about what I could do. I look back on this year and I'm pretty impressed about everything I did (if I do say so myself). And you know the best part? Most of it is just the start of better things to come! Isn't that exciting?

Of course, you always hope the next year is better than the previous year. How could you not? But this was a damn good year, challenges and all. I'm tempted to go back and read my postings from last year at this time, but that would be a cheat. I know it's better now. My life is richer right now. And I'm crying tears of happy right this very minute.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Not very Christmas-y

Warning: this is not a Christmas post. Of course, it wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for Christmas travel, but if you want heartwarming today, well, come back some other time. It's a minor, bitchy story of bad service and wrong answers.

Wednesday I drove up from Maryland to the parents' in Ohio. I wanted to get about half way before I grabbed lunch (I left after a half day of work) and also wanted to avoid the crazy in Breezewood. I dive down the PA turnpike a while and get to a stop about 50 miles later. I'd like to point out that this travel day was December 23, a day one would expect a lot of folks on the road, right? I'd also like to point out that I did not get off the turnpike, I stopped at one of those places that are meant for travelers to quickly get in and out. So, fast service is not asking too much, is it? Now, I'll admit, I picked the Chili's-to-go, which I knew probably wasn't going to be as quick as the hot dog place, but still. In a rest stop, not the sit down experience.

There are three of us in line. One cashier. Okay, still not a huge deal. But then there's an order up and she has to leave the register with a tray full of food and find the people who ordered it and deliver it to the table. So, no cashier. Now, I see a couple of workers off to the side, running in and out (one an older woman). But no one to cover the register. Eventually, the cashier is done delivering and comes back. When I finally go to place my order, I asked her if there was anyone else working the register and she told me the other girl was on break, do I want to talk to the manager? And she goes to leave and maybe if I wasn't tired and cranky and had been stuck in traffic I would have said, no, that's alright, but I let her get the manager. And out steps this older woman, who I had noticed hadn't been helping earlier.

I swear, I kind of just want to defend the poor girl behind the register (who was great, if the CEO of Chili's is reading this.) So I asked the manager (Joan, by the way, CEO) why there wasn't anyone else working on this obviously busy travel day. Okay, let's role play. You are the manager of a Chili's in the middle of Pennsylvania that probably gets crazy-busy about four times a year. What is the correct response:
1) I don't make the schedule.
2) This isn't the busiest day; the day before Thanksgiving is.
3) Didn't you see the line?
4) I apologize for the wait. We'll have to be more careful when we make the schedule for these busier days. (or something along those lines.)

Apparently, if you're Joan, all answers but 4) are correct. And, oh Joan, you picked the wrong chick to pull out the ornery on. (By the way, I'd like to point out that after I talked to Joan, suddenly she decided that helping out behind the register would be a good idea, so I must have been on to something.)

I understand that it must have been a crazy day. I also understand that if they were understaffed (which they were), there's not a lot you can do at that point. But if a customer wants to talk to you, at least pretend to be nice. Yeah, I'm probably not going to be back anytime soon, but that's part of being a manager. Just be a little bit nice, don't make it worse.

There was no god in that Chili's that night.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pretty things get in my car

Let's play a game. Let's pretend that all jobs earn the same amount of money. I have waved the magic wand: poof, we're all equal. Okay, what are you doing for a living? Here's the rule: you gotta work for someone. Oh, and you can't change your job every week or something like that. You actually have to stick with it for a while. Okay, are you still doing the same thing?

The thing is that if I played that game, I'm not really sure what I'd be doing. If money wasn't the issue. I'd love to say that I'd still be doing the same thing, but I'm not so sure. But, that said, I'm not sure what I'd do. What would fulfill me? What would make my heart sing? Does my job have to make my heart sing? I'm not so sure it does.

For now, I am happy doing what I'm doing, but keeping myself open to possibilities. I am enjoying the things that surround my job. I am happy with my hobbies and my non-job activities. I am working on balance.

(See where we were.)

We all have our stories to tell. But that's just it, isn't it? They're stories. They're our version of the events, a weird blend of nonfiction and fiction. What we saw, what we remember, what we were feeling when it happened. Our version of the story is what we own. It's not all "facts be damned" or made-up lies, but it's not history either.

When I write about things in my past, my stories, I'm giving you my memoir, not my autobiography. There aren't any endnotes, there was no fact checker. It's my version: right or (probably at least a little bit) wrong. I try to tell the truth, but I am sure I am coloring it with other things: emotions, other stories that I've mixed up in there, new perspective now. I'm not crosschecking or interviewing other participants or getting the whole story; I'm just telling mine. Perhaps it's a bit selfish, but it's what I have for now.

There's a great story in the afterward of my copy of "Autobiography of a Face" (or maybe in "Truth and Beauty" -- either way, both very good books) where Lucy Grealy was at a book signing and someone told her how amazing it is that she remembers all those details from when she was a child. They asked her how she could remember all of that and she replied, "I didn't remember it, I wrote it. I'm a writer." Exactly.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

While I looked around for my possibilities

Today I was thinking about everything I need to do, all the stuff I want to do. I want to write, I want to chat with people, I want to sort my photos, I want to wrap the presents. I want to get sleep (ah, that's the one that gets you every time.) There's so much to do, so many possibilities. And, for once, this didn't stress me out. For once, I thought to myself, isn't that great? Isn't it wonderful to have all of these things to do?

I guess I need to do more of that, I need to embrace the positive. I need to keep in mind that being busy is a good thing. That having all this stuff is great! It's fun! Who wants to be bored? Who wants to be at home in the evening thinking, there's nothing to do?

I am choosing to not be overwhelmed. I am choosing to decide it's a blessing. And I am smiling, looking at that stack of presents that needs wrapping.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Apple: Bite me

Hey, Apple: today, I am a hater and it's going your way. Here's the deal: today I get an email from Apple. Free on iTunes: a Christmas sampler. Yay, right? I mean, who doesn't dig some free holiday music? Just upgrade your iTunes, and it's all yours. No problem, I've been getting that "hey, you need to upgrade" message for a while, so this is what I need to actually do it.

I go to upgrade, and the stupid thing acts like it's a whole, new application. Which involves dinking (yeah, I said dinking) with it for a while. Finally, it seems to go. But wait! If I want to access the iTunes store, I have to upgrade my Safari, which involves a search for software upgrades. Of which none are actually Safari. So I search for the Safari upgrade, which I find and go to download. Which, after waiting to download, I get the message that I need to upgrade my whole operating system. Excuse me?! I don't think so.

So, now I'm stuck with a new "improved" iTunes where I can't access the store. Oh, yeah, I still don't have the free holiday music.

I say it again: Apple: Bite me.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The power of the words

So, the original plan was that I would write the 50,000 words and set it aside for a few weeks, then start to edit. It seemed like a good plan. But we all know about the best-laid plans.

I really wanted to stay away from it for a while, to actually miss writing The Book. I wanted to really need to write and I figured it would be at least a couple of weeks until that would happen. But last weekend (only five days later!) I really wanted to add some things to The Book. I suppose that's a good thing, but I'm already breaking the little rules in my head.

I have a copy of what I've written so far printed out. It's ready to be edited. If I'm being honest, I'm a little bit afraid of it. I'm not thinking it's the Great American Novel or anything, but I don't want it to be awful either. I'm a little afraid that when I read it, I'll realize that it's not very good. Or interesting. Or, even worse, I'll think that it's good but anyone else who reads it will be less than enthused.

I have people who believe in me, which I completely appreciate, but not one of these people has read a word of what I've written, so their belief is completely based outside of this exercise. It's wonderful to have people who trust what you do so much, but I do have a bit of a fear of disappointing them. That they will read it and, in an attempt to be positive, offer praise like, "wow, those margins are straight!"

But, let's be optimistic and say that I somehow get it to a point that I have strangers read it. I don't know if I'm ready for that. Ever. I'm not sure I could take the criticism from a person who doesn't have a reason to be nice to me, to sugarcoat the issues they might have with it. ("Look, these margins are crap!") But getting to that point, that point where I think someone else might appreciate what I wrote, that's both horrible and kind of exciting to me. Am I ever going to be at that stage?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hey Grandma!

When it comes to technology, sometimes I am so hopelessly behind. Sure, I can play the game. I have the blog, the twitter account, the facebook page. I maintain my calendar on Outlook, I'm connected to the internet. But, beyond all that simple stuff, I'm at a dead end when it comes to technology.

I use the wrong terms. Someone told me that they've RSSd me, and I am smiling and nodding (but I have no idea what that means.) Another friend asked me about sms-ing and I was, um I don't do that but you can text me. (Oh, how I wish that wasn't a true story. And that it happened more than a few weeks ago.)

My hard drive on this mac is almost full and I know it's because I have some junk on it that I could just delete and free up a ton of memory but I have no idea how to do it. (I probably have, like, 4 versions of Word or something kicking around.) I can't get my ipod touch to pick up the internet anywhere, not even in my house. (And, yes, I have the wifi on when I'm trying to find it -- I've since shut it off as that I don't run my battery down to nothing.)

I feel like if I got somebody to sit down with me and teach me, I could do it. Clearly, I have some capability. But talking to an IT guy, forget it. They use weird words and get mad when I try to explain that I clearly don't get it. Or they go about 10 steps too far ("here's how you can connect to the internet while water-skiing in the Bahamas and competing in a Magic tournament!" No, I just want to connect to the internet in Gaithersburg.) Or they want to tell you five ways to do the same thing ("you can connect though this button or this command or by spinning the computer three times in the air..." Just tell me one way -- stop confusing me!)

I feel like if I could figure it out, my life would be more efficient, more sleek. It's like finding the perfect handbag. It would pull everything together.


So, have you heard this one? Congress (yeah, our Congress) is discussing a bill that would mandate a college football play-off system. I know what you're thinking; you're thinking, thank God they're taking the time to address this important issue. Because, as you know, everything else is going so very well: no issues with the economy, war, health care: not a thing to worry about.

Look, I happen to like football. College football, even. And I even think that they way they determine who is Number One is kind of stupid (the system favors the big schools and certain leagues, for example), but, really, so what? Basketball has a play-off system (and, frankly, that's a sport where it makes a little more sense because you can play more than one game a week), and you still sometimes end up with a champion that people argue over.

Look, there's no one perfect system. And I actually think that having a little controversy is good for a sport, gives you something to argue about over beers with buddies. Look at Nascar: Jimmy Johnson is over there dominating, and they're all up in arms about how boring the sport has become. There are people who think the sport should be changed to get rid of the domination, but most of us are just bored. I personally like it when there isn't that obvious winner all the time.

Friday, December 4, 2009


I may be a cynic, but I always hope for the happy ending. To an unrealistic extent. Like, when I was watching "Milk" (oh, hey, spoiler alert), I was thinking to myself, maybe in this version he won't run into Dan White. Maybe someone will see Dan White break in and stop him. The crazy thing was that there was a part of me that really truly thought this was actually a possibility.

And, yes, every single time I reread "The Diary of Anne Frank" (and, believe me, it's been more than a few times), I hope that they can stay hidden for a few more months. Or maybe she'll get a little more to eat so she can survive the camps.

I just want it all to turn out alright. I just want everyone to have a chance.

I suppose there are worse things than having hope. But, of course, that means I'm disappointed sometimes.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Oh Christmas tree

Today I bought a Christmas tree. I got a fake one this year, which was the right choice. Yeah, a real tree smells nice and everything, but it's a lot of work. So, lazy wins this year (and, since it's gonna last, lazy will last for years to come.)

I wanted a just a plain, basic tree. Do you know how hard it is to find a tree that doesn't have lights or fake pine cones? And looks decent? Why are they all coming with lights these days? I know it's easier, but lights burn out. And sometimes you have special lights you want to use. Or maybe one year you want colored lights and the next year you want all blue lights. But if you don't want to buy a tree with lights already on it, that eliminates about 75% of the trees.

And, because you don't want lights, clearly, you want ugly, fake pine cones. Maybe the logic is as follows: don't want lights = must like "natural" things; pine cones are natural things; therefore, you must want the pine cones! Um, no. Not at all. So, now you're left with about three trees to choose from. One is just wimpy and ugly, one is one of those skinny trees, so you're left with that one, I guess. So, I bought that one.

I'll take a picture, I promise.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I swear I didn't make this up

A question for you. Or, not a question, exactly, but maybe you can explain this. Give me a reference or something. Some time when I was in my 20s, I had heard that, in general, Catholics use colored Christmas lights, and Protestants use white lights. And, I swear, it was presented to me like, yup, this is the way it is. I must have heard it somewhere. It's a stupid stereotype. There's no good reason to have it. But now that I'm trying to confirm that there's some truth behind or something, I can't seem to find any confirmation. I've googled a few things, but, for the most part, nothing. I wouldn't have made this up, right? So, why is this in my consciousness? Any help out there?

Oh, and can you tell me why the church doors in Philadelphia are red?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Is that all you blighters can do?

Last month I wrote over 50,000 words. For a novel. Yeah, really. That’s a lot of words, even for a babbler like me. It required a few things: whenever I had a chance, I wrote; no editing at all; just throwing those ideas on the page -- no pondering or thinking out those ideas or putting them in any sort of order; and using “down time” (such as walking to work, that sort of thing) to focus my thinking on ideas for “the book.”

Why did I do it? It was a crazy time at work and there’s really no good reason, but I guess I wanted the challenge. Maybe because it was a crazy time at work, maybe it helped me think of something other than work. I can’t be grinding my teeth about this nut-so work project when I’m trying to think of what to write in the next chapter.

There were a few times I didn’t think I’d make it. There was a point at about 20,000 words that I thought, okay, there’s no way I have any more to say about all of this. Story is over. I was stuck with a short story. But then I had this weird little burst of creativity that kept me going until about 47,000. And maybe because it was near the end, both word count-wise and time-wise, those last few thousand were killing me.

The NaNoWriMo site has all sorts of tips to help increase your word count, but they seem like cheats to me. Like, have your character think something, then say it. (For example: “John thought he should order a pizza. ‘I should order a pizza,’ said John.”) These strike me a bit as cheats. Look, if you’re going to commit to 50,000 words, make them as real as you can get them. Don’t pad just to pad (that said, I’m sure I did some, but I tried not to.) Or another thing NaNoWriMo does is they give you “dares” (such as “we dare you to put a submarine in your story! Then sink it!”) Oh, please. Just write your story. If you really want people to write a novel in a month, then the silliness needs to be set aside.

So, what's my book about? Yeah, I'm not ready to tell you yet. Sorry. It's been such a stream-of-consciousness sort of thing that I have no idea if it's any good or if the ideas fit together or anything like that, so it's still a private thing. If it makes you feel any better, I haven't shown any of it to anyone, so it's not you.

But I have a book. A short book and an unedited book, but a book that I wrote. For now, I've set it aside, at least for a couple of weeks. Then I'll get out the editing hat and see if there's anything there. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Made it!

Dear Loyal Viewer,

I made it to 50,000 words. Too tired to detail it for now -- don't worry it's coming. And December is for you. I swear. I miss you all.

For now: enjoy the Rocky stairs.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

So far

A quick update for those of you who stop by now and again. NaNoWriMo is coming along. I'm at the halfway point time-wise, but slightly behind word-wise. I just hit (Seriously, like, 5 minutes ago) 20,000 words for the month, which, frankly, kind of amazes me. It's been a busy couple of weeks, so I'm pretty happy that I've been able to keep this pace. I know I'll have time in the next couple of weeks to catch up, so I'm pretty optimistic that I'll make the goal.

Since it's a crazy sort of pace, I'm just throwing the words on the page. There's nothing wrong with that (for now) and I'd like to think it's freeing me up some. I only have so much time to write, so I just have to go with what's in my head. No time to edit, no time to process. There are days I feel like there's nothing there, but that word count needs to go on, so I do as well.

I'm looking forward to crossing that finish line and taking a breather. It's an exercise, I know, but I hope it works. The plan is to finish the month, then put it aside for a bit (a week, maybe a month?), then go back and edit. I'm sure I'll change a lot, but that's alright. It's about ideas for now. I'm also looking forward to having time to write here once December arrives.

Thanks for stopping by. Just wanted to give you the update.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The write stuff

(Get it? It's a pun!)

First of all, thanks to all who read. Sorry you keep checking back, only to find nothing new here. I've got a bunch of excuses: busy at work, lack of focus, lack of ideas, just plain lazy, but it all adds up to no new posts. Sorry about that.

In case you didn't know, November is NaBloPoMo (you know, National Blog Posting Month), where a post a day is encouraged. Here's my chance to get back on track! I thought. I will do that. It will be good.

But then someone pointed out to me that it is also NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month. Seriously? You don't have it on your calendar?), which is way more ambitious: write a novel in a month. A "short" novel (50,000 words!) but a novel nonetheless. I thought about the wordiness of November. For a day or so I thought I might be able to do both, but I decided that I should probably keep my job (new house and all), so I'm taking on NaNoWriMo. I have an idea for a novel and I kind of want the crazy challenge right now.

I'll probably start throwing down the words and hit a dead end, realize the idea won't work, there's a bunch of possibilities. Who knows, but starting tomorrow, it's fiction time. Which means little time for this blog (so I anticipate). But you never know; maybe I'll want to write anything but that damn novel in a week or so. I just wanted to warn you in advance that the postings aren't going to pick up any time soon. That said, I may make December my NaBloPoMo. Or I may use Garfield Statue to vent about how much I hate those 50,000 words.

Don't go away completely. Check back now and again. I swear: December is for you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I wish I might

When I was about 12, we went on a church retreat in Michigan. I don't remember too much about it, but I remember it was cool, like it is now. And at night it got very dark. When you live in a city, you don't realize how dark it can get. And this was the type of dark you can only get when you get away from the city lights.

I went to the top of a hill and there were so many stars. More stars than I ever remember seeing. I remember lying on top of that hill, and there were stars all around me. I was surrounded by stars. And after a while it felt like I was floating. It was the strangest feeling. It didn't even feel like I was laying down. I could have been standing; I could have been drifting away. It was amazing and a little bit frightening. I was almost afraid to move, afraid that the ground wasn't there anymore.

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's called a jawbreaker

Wanna get me all riled up? Let's talk Roman Polanski, shall we? Can someone please explain to me who thinks that this is appropriate behavior: (a) Find 13-year-old girl (b) drug 13-year-old girl (c) rape, etc., 13-year-old girl (d) admit to doing so in a court of law (e) don't show up for sentencing because things may not exactly go your way (f) flee country and specifically avoid certain places in order to not end up back in the country to be punished for crime you have admitted to committing and fleeing from that very crime. Seriously, the guy is a pedophile who won't pay for his sins. Why are people defending him?

No, you do not get a pass because you produce art. Sorry, that's not how the system works. Does this mean if he were a mediocre director he could maybe rape an 18-year-old? Or rob a liquor store? The crappy directors, well, maybe they can beat up a guy in a bar.

And, shut up everyone who says that even the girl forgives him. No, that is not true. She wants to put it behind her, that's what she has said. And you know what might help her put it behind her? Seeing her rapist punished for his crimes. Having him serve his sentence with so it's not still news. And, frankly, what's she going to say to get him back in the country? "I want that bastard in jail for the rest of his life"? That ain't gonna get him back in the USA.

Oh, it's been 30 years? Is there a reward for getting away with something for a long period of time? Did I miss that memo? And what is the required amount of time? Was 20 years enough? 10? Oh, wait, he's 76? So what? Go. To. Jail.

And news media, I am over you referring to him as "Oscar-winner" or "award-winning director" or whatever wonderful thing you want to call him. I have yet to see one refer to him as "convicted pedophile" or "child rapist." Even the crime itself: he will have to "face justice for having sex with a 13-year-old girl" like they were on a date or something and he got caught. Yeah, it was just "having sex." Oh, and Jacek Bromski, you really need to shut up. Yeah, Polanski's career really suffered there.

This man is a pedophile. He should be in jail for the crimes he admitted to committing. I'm sorry you had a rough life, but this one you've got to own.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ironically, I can't think of a title for this one

The other day, a friend of mine called me creative. I said, thank you. She pointed out that not everyone would think it was a compliment. I wondered, who wouldn't think that was a compliment? Doesn't everyone want to be creative?

But then I thought about it a little bit more. Being creative is scary. It's putting yourself out there. It's saying, I'm doing things a bit different and I'm standing behind it. Or, here's something from my very own brain, I hope you like it. And, to me, that one is the scary one. Because, although I might like it, I might think that it's clever or funny or touching, someone else might see it and think, boy, I really hate that. Or maybe not think about it at all.

I guess I will accept that I am a bit creative. But I don't think I'm as creative as I could be. I know that comes from a lack of bravery, a fear of letting go. It's hard to put yourself "out there." I can't stand to watch people read anything I've written. I've distanced myself from my writing at work in order to survive those criticisms. Luckily, everyone has been nice about the writing here. But I'm still a bit shy to actually talk about it. I like that I can write here, someone else can read it miles away, and I don't have to watch or even know they are reading.

This adds to the list of one of the many ways I wish I were braver. I'm working on it, but don't expect me to waving a short story under your nose anytime soon. And, I suppose, in many ways, it may be easier to not be creative. But it's got to be kind of boring.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

But I guess I'm already there

Well, most of the boxes are unpacked, but I'm not sure if I'm completely moved in. I'm at that weird, in-between stage. That stage where everything is in places, but I'm not sure if they're in the right places. Where I have certain pictures on the wall because the hooks are already there, that picture fits, but I'm pretty sure it's not the right picture for that spot. And where should I put my bills? My receipts?

I look around and, yeah, it's my stuff, but it doesn't completely feel like it's mine. I'm still working on the rhythm of the new place. It takes a bit longer than I think it should to get ready to go every morning. Where did I put my keys? That bill I meant to pay? My book? I am getting used to having to run up and down stairs every time I need something, but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

The good news is that every little thing helps make me feel more at home. Yes, that looks better over there. That basket can be used to hold those papers. Lamps are on tables now, not on the floor. It's coming together. It should be home soon.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Not there to soothe your soul

This Thursday, I went from "getting a divorce" to "divorced." I got the phone call at work, all very casual. "Well, it's official." I'm still not sure how to react, how, exactly, to feel about all of this. I'll admit, my first reaction was to cry a little bit. Of course I knew it was coming, and, yes, it was my doing. Or at least my finishing (we're not getting into a discussion of all the details here.) But, now, it is over.

Thirteen years. That's how long we were married, almost exactly. And, poof, it is over. How do I view those years? If I say I was happy, then why did I end it? If I say I wasn't, then why did it take so long? But I was happy. And then I wasn't. But it wasn't just good/bad, yes/no. I suppose it went from one shade of grey to another. And I'm still not sure why the shade of grey became something I no longer wanted, but I know it wasn't the shade I was planning to live with the rest of my life.

I know that when I tell people I feel sad about about the whole thing, some of them wonder if I regret doing this. No, I know this was the right thing to do. But that doesn't mean I don't miss some things. That I don't have some good memories, and, yes, some of these memories are fairly recent. I hate that, in some ways, I have to pretend that those 13 years don't exist. They do exist; they are a part of me. And I'm still trying to decide what to do with those years.

Monday, September 7, 2009

3 sixty 5

I have joined a 365 club on Flickr. One photo (and only one) per day, every day. It started September 1 and I'm already surprised as to how much of a challenge it is. The first change in behavior is that I'm starting to carry my camera everywhere. Or at least I'm trying to bring it. I forgot to bring it to Sam's Club today and I immediately thought, "well, there goes some of today's possibilities."

Another change is that I find myself looking around a lot more. Looking for something interesting or specific for that day. I've resisted taking pictures of the cat although I'm sure he'll show up on a day where I've found nothing else. I have to do less looking for lucky pennies and more looking for good shots.

I have some days where there are a lot of shots. Yesterday I went to the National game (a come-from-behind win! very exciting) and there were a bunch of shots. Of course, the guys dressed as presidents won (although the Teddy shot shown here did not get the shot of the day. Abe won.) Those days you hate that you only get one picture.

I am enjoying seeing other the other pictures in the group but I see how much I need to grow as a photographer. There are some really beautiful pictures in this group. I am thinking of this amazing one of a tomato with a fork in it. So simple, yet perfect.

So, it's Day 7. Wonder what I'll see today. Maybe the trip to the grocery store will bring something.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mama Leone left a note on the door

Don't believe the hype: moving sucks. Even though I've been looking forward to actually getting a place to call my own and get my stuff back from Pennsylvania, I have to say that a really, really hate moving. I'm trying to put the good spin on it: at least this is "mine" (well, in 2029, it'll officially be mine!), at least I now have everything in one place, I can try to get organized, but, seriously, I'm exhausted by all of this.

I really do love the new place. Good space, good neighborhood, yep, I made the right choice. But I am really looking forward to the day where I'm not working my way around a box or two every time I go to the bathroom. Or where I can actually find everything I need when I cook a meal.

The good news is that I'm starting to feel like it's going in the right direction. The parents came out last weekend and help whip the main floor into shape. Yesterday I was able to get all the way into my closet ("oh look! There is a back wall!") The internet is up and running ("hello, my pretty.") Yeah, someday this will all be a memory.

For now, it's a little bit at a time. Every box I can get rid of is a little victory. Every trash pick-up makes me happier. I still have way too much stuff, (oh, you have no idea) but it's starting to get under control. Maybe soon I'll invite you over.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sorry I've been MIA

Just a quick post to explain the absence. It's mostly been moving. I have a lot of stuff, in case you missed it in previous posts. And, currently, I am without internet (quick shout-out the the neighbors who aren't protecting theirs. Oh, can you get a stronger signal -- it doesn't always come in when I need to steal it from you. Thanks!)

I promise more soon. Really. Don't go away, tiny audience of mine.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This is not a happy post

There are days that I just feel like I'm a jerk. That I'm selfish and all I care about is myself. All I think about is my needs, what makes me happy, without really thinking about how it affects someone else. And I hate myself a little bit for that.

I didn't want to hurt Mr. HP. I really didn't. And I hate that I had to hurt him to get to where I am today. Look, I know there were a lot of factors, that we both played our part in this falling apart. I get that. But I was the one who pulled the trigger, who made it all happen. And there are times when I think about his hurt, and I can't believe I could be so awful, to intentionally do this to a person. I think of him alone and I almost gasp that I was capable of causing this.

No one wants to be the villain. And I know that I'm not the villain. But I'm not the good guy either.

Friday, August 14, 2009

C'mon up to the house

Next week, I wake up in my brand new house! Okay, it's not really brand new, but it is brand new to me. I am out of the apartment with its rented furniture and white, white walls. It's a nice apartment, but it's not mine. I could settle in some, but I never really felt like it was home (home-ish, perhaps.) My cd's were in Pennsylvania; most of my books were there as well. Although there are pictures on the wall of the apartment, they are those weird hotel-like pictures that mean nothing to no one. I want to put up the photos I have taken on my trips, the pictures my mom has painted, the family tree.

I want to settle in. I want to put up shelves, and put my stupid, little trinkets on them. I want to (at least think about) painting the walls different colors. I want to make a place that people want to visit; I want people to hang out. I want it to be a place where everyone feels comfortable. I hope it's a place that brings me joy.

I know that part of that will be my attitude. I will have to work on relaxing when people visit. I will have to enjoy their company and not worry if they bang a chair into the wall. It's just a spill; we can clean it up. I need to laugh at the jokes and not worry about the scuff marks.

But I'm really looking forward to taking a bath in that awesome tub!

Friday, August 7, 2009

I never weep at night

Today, after three hours at the DMV, I walked away with new plates for my car and a new driver's license. Oh, and I got my name back. For the first time in 13 years, the name on my driver's license matches my passport.

I never legally changed my name when Mr. HP and I got married. I was going to, but it's a very (very) common last name (not that common), and I just never really got around to doing it. When I got my driver's license renewed after I got married, during those crazy pre-9/11 days, all I had to do was show the marriage license and tell them that I was planning to change my name, and there you go: my driver's license had my married name.

I had two names for 13 years: my work name and my home name. It's actually surprising how easy it is to do this. Paychecks, publications, those are in my work (legal) name; home ownership, driver's license, checking accounting: my home name, Mr. HP's last name. Of course, when I travelled, that got a bit tricky; I had to remember to buy my out-of-the-country tickets in the passport name. When I'd go to check into the hotel, I'd have to remember which name I gave.

Mortgage companies are not big fans of the multiple names, even six years ago. I had to write a letter explaining why I had two names. I resisted the temptation to just write, "because it's not 1950 and not all of us take the guy's name."

I have a couple of things that still have the married name, but today I changed the major ones. It's a bit sad, but it's also kind of nice. No more explaining why my credit card name is different from my license. (An aside: it's shocking the number of businesses that ask to see the identification, and then just shrug off the fact they don't match. I had only one place that refused to take my card because they didn't match. Seriously, why did the others even check?)

Yeah, my name is common, but it's mine again. And I now only have one.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Yeah, I know that guy (or gal)

I think everyone who has worked has worked with That Guy. That Guy who has a higher level job than you and makes more than you, but, seriously, no one has any idea how they got there. That Guy (or Gal: let's be honest, it's sometimes a gal) has a great job. He goes home at a reasonable hour; he has a nice office; he gets to travel. And, yet, no one knows quite what it is he does, what he adds to the whole system. In fact, sometimes, he makes it more difficult.

I look at these people and I wonder, how do I get that job? What did I do wrong that I'm stuck actually working? I think I could do That Guy's job. In fact, I'm pretty sure I could do it better. Or maybe I'm just feeling sorry for myself.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Fear of fiction

I have, on some level, accepted that I am a writer. I do get a paycheck as a result of being a writer (a specific type of writer, yes, but they do pay me.) I do this blog, which involves some writing, now and again. So, yes, I guess I have the ability to write. However, what I do not do is write fiction.

I read fiction. I love fiction. I love to tell a story. But those stories have to be based in fact, in actual events. I can't make up a story. Besides assignments in school, I've never written any fiction. And, honestly, I don't know if I could. Fiction requires a bravery I don't think I have. When you write fiction, that's all you. If I'm just telling a story, well, that's the way it happened and there's no changing that. When you make up a story, that's your mind, your heart, that's your story.

I'd like to think that some day I could write a story. But when I start to think about it, maybe to explore an idea, two things happen. One: it always seems like that any idea I have must have been done before. And, most likely, much better than I could do. But, maybe, I talk myself out of that, past that point, and I start to develop it in my head. Well, it just sounds so poorly written (almost "Twilight" bad!) I just can't do it.

So, all you fiction writers, I raise a glass to you. Thanks for being brave. Maybe, one day, I'll try to be brave as well.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Take a cha-cha-cha-chance

One year ago, I started this blog. 187 posts ago (although, in all fairness, Bru wrote one of those posts. Hey Bru, why don't you post more often?) And, boy, it's been a heck of a year.

I suppose a lot of it is my own fault: be careful what you wish for and all of that. Although, really looking at it, all of these changes, in the end, are a good thing. I have to believe this. Now is the time to believe the cliches: everything happens for a reason; when God shuts a door, He opens a window; what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I am clinging to these cliches on some days.

The adventure of the year has been a good thing. I feel like I've done so much. I've certainly done some things I didn't expect. When I started writing, I think it was with the hope that it would help me find some things, things I'd been missing. I doubt if the writing changed anything, but it has been a help. It has allowed me to explore myself and to think of things in a different way.

When I think of the past year, I can't help but look at my left hand. The ghost rings are still there. This both comforts and bothers me. Shouldn't they be gone by now? But I know that one day I'll look and notice that they're not there anymore. And it will break my heart a little bit.

So, happy birthday, Garfield Statue. Thanks to all who have read. Thanks to everyone who has been there for me this year. I needed you more than you know.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Soft the drowsy hours are creeping

When I was a kid and even through early adulthood, I was a champion sleeper. I could sleep pretty much any time, for as long as my parents would let me. I'd fall asleep quickly and rarely wake up during the night. I was one of those kindergartners who actually wanted to nap at nap time. I'd sleep on the band bus. I may have slept between acts at a concert. In a bar. So, why is it so much harder to sleep these days?

There are nights that I just can't seem to remember how to sleep. My body feels all wrong. Like, I can't remember where to put my arms. (How can my arms be in my way? And, yet, I can't get them so that they feel right.) And my mind keeps racing. I just can't relax. Am I worrying that much more these days? And then, once I finally do get to sleep, I probably can't go more than 3 or 4 hours without waking up. And that's when the serious worrying comes in.

Is the worry about anything important? Rarely. But I just can't stop it. And then I start the arguing with myself: stop being ridiculous. You know, you have to get up early. Why are you so worried about such silly things? Of course, if you don't worry, no one else is going to take care of it. Hey, did you ever think that you might be crazy? Hey, what would happen if you never fell asleep again?

Oh, I miss being able to sleep like I was a kid. It may be the only thing I miss about being a kid. Can you imagine: ten hours of solid sleep? That sounds fantastic! Maybe I'll dream about that tonight.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Those days when you were happy

Some of my favorite things are the family pictures I've collected over the years. Now, with digital cameras, cameras on our computers, there seems to be so many pictures of all of us. But pictures of my Nana in her 20s, well, there aren't many of those. I treasure those old pictures of my grandparents when they were young. Pictures of my parents as children. Pictures of my siblings as little kids with my parents looking so very young.

As much as I treasure the pictures of the people I love, when I take pictures, I don't usually take pictures of people. I'm not sure why, but maybe it's that I just can't capture what I see in that person. A photo is such a small part of that person. It's just a fraction, just one angle. Or (she says selfishly) maybe it's that there isn't a picture of me that I really love.

As I grow older I am more aware that this version of myself won't be here forever. Yes, time keeps moving forward. I hate getting my picture taken, but I know that this is the youngest I will ever be.

I have very few pictures of the former Mr. HP. He has almost none of me. I'm not sure why, but this is something that really hurts me. I always get a bit choked up when I think about this. I suppose the idea of all those years represented by a small stack of pictures. That it all can be so easily set aside. (Now, looking at the lyrics to the song that supplied this post's title, I note the phrase "To prove they love each other, a long ago.") I'm not sure that more pictures would change anything. But, for now, it might make me feel a little better. A little more a part of history.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Out of the mist your voice is calling

I just finished reading "Twilight." It was surprisingly bad. Of course I know it's meant for teenagers, but it was just not a good book. Please understand that I have great love for kid/teen lit. Books got me through childhood. I'll still pick up one of those books I read as a kid and most are still fun to read. I love me some "Harry Potter" and "Lemony Snicket." If I pick up a Judy Blume book, I won't put it down until someone drags me away. This, "Twilight", is not good writing.

What I don't get is the adults who like this. I've heard from more than one person my age that, although not deep, it's a good read. It got good reviews from real places: "The NYTimes", "Publishers Weekly." Don't be fooled. Yes, it moves along quickly (which is something, I guess), but it's bad writing. Here's an example: "I didn't feel like mentioning that my stomach was already full -- of butterflies." Ugh, really? (It's the dash; the dash just makes it so much worse.)

By the way, this post is going to contain some spoilers, so don't say I didn't warn you. (The biggest spoiler: the writing sucks.)

I can understand why the book is popular with 13-year-old girls. The main character, Bella, is basically average but just a bit cooler than average -- she could be you, tween girl reading "Twilight"! Of course, she's good at school, well, except icky things like gym and math. And, of course, when she starts at the new school, all the boys go after her, including the super-hot vampire who has never shown an interest in any other girl ever. (And she keeps insisting that she is nothing special, to which the reply is always a version of, "oh, Bella, if you could see how special you are." Please, just stop.)

And what Meyer does to the vampire myth is ridiculous. As far as I can tell, there's no downside to being a vampire, except (a) you have these urges for blood, which, really, who doesn't crave some stuff that's maybe not so good for you? and (b) there some pain when you actually become a vampire, but that goes away. The vampires here are all fabulous-looking, forever young, and have super powers. They can go out in daylight (but they sparkle. I know! What the hell is that about?) They can drive fast. They don't eat real food or have to sleep. They're good at baseball. Seriously, sign me up.

Books like this make me think that I could write bestsellers. But do I have to write so poorly?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Miss New Orleans 2009

So, yeah, I forgot to tell you about my trip to New Orleans. I have never been to New Orleans before and, hey, what better time to go than the middle of summer? (Actually, it's not like DC isn't a sweat box anyway this time of year, so might as well sweat someplace new. With booze.) Let me tell you: totally loved it.

New Orleans is awesome because the people there call you "sugar" (Did I get a "God bless you, sugar?" Why yes I did.) It is awesome because you can buy tiny skulls in the same shop you buy your new crucifix. It is awesome because there is tons of yummy, yummy food. And you can walk and walk and see so much rough beauty.

I got my fortune told (I'm not going to tell you the details, but Miss Hope assures me that I am on the right path.) I drank absinthe. I had a (well, maybe more than one) hurricane. I had (maybe more than one) beignets. I lit a candle at St. Louis Cathedral and saw Marie Laveau's tomb. I bought an interesting shadow box, um, thing on the street. (It's actually quite charming. When asked about its history, we were told, "Well, I had it a few years and, before that, well, Paul had it." Oh, Paul. Of course. How much? $3? We'll take it.)

I would go back in a second. I really loved it more than I thought I would. Yeah, I could do without the drunk assholes, but it's a small price to pay. Mmmmm, beignets...

And, yes, I am listening to Cajun music right now.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Three-hundred sixty-five degrees

Tomorrow, God willing, I am finally (finally, finally) buying a house. I am almost afraid to write this and I'm knocking on every bit of wood I can find. Why do these things have to be so damn stressful? Is this part of the test of homeownership? ("If she can't handle a few crazy last-minute tasks by the mortgage company, then she can't handle fixing the plumbing.") 

The mortgage company is killing me. They are like the worst boyfriend ever. Sure, they sweet talk you at first ("my, you have such a pretty credit rating!") but then they get demanding. Last pay stub, please? Well, okay, but this was through relocation. If they had fired me or I had quit, don't you think they would have told you. But, fine, I'll fax it over. Passport? Fine. Bank statement? Can you please send me a list, so I can do it all at once? Oh, no, we like little bits of information. It makes us feel wanted and keeps you busy at work.

Okay, here's what I had to deal with, less than 48 hours before settlement (less than 24 hours before the paperwork needs to go through so that I can go to settlement), the charming and delightful Esther needs me to explain the money in my savings account. Uh, it's my money. From saving it. But there are three big deposits. Big deposit #1 (which alone is enough to cover the downpayment plus a reasonable cushion) is from the equity on the Newtown house. Hey Esther, didn't you get a statement from the relo company about that amount? "Yes, but it's lower than what I have on the statement." 50% lower, by any chance? Calculate, calculate, "yes, that's the amount." Yeah, well, I got half, the former Mr. HP got half. That's how these things work. So, it's justified? "These payments are usually direct deposit." It had to go through the lawyer, but, still, there it is, in the total amount. See, right on the statement. Not enough. I had to send darling Esther the letter from the lawyer. Which has the following text:

"Dear Angela: I am enclosing check no. XXXX in the amount of "large sum" which represents your half of the settlement payment."

That's it. No mention of equity or anything like that but somehow, that makes the money real. Okay, we've got it covered, right? Because that's more than you need. No, I need to explain the two other large-ish amounts. Why? Because Esther (sweet, wonderful Esther) needs it explained. Okay, we had money in shared account, now we have separate accounts. So now the money is there. In my account. Not good enough. I have to call the bank, so they can tell Esther the same thing. Fine. But wait! At 10:20 this morning, Esther finds another bit of money that I need to explain. Seriously, we have now exceeded my downpayment by a very large amount of money (enough to buy a very nice car. A very nice one.) Why do we need to know about that money as well? Pretend it doesn't exist -- just stop bugging me at work. Because that paystub you needed so badly, it may be my last one if you keep me faxing crap to you all day!

Luckily, it all seems to be straightened out. By this time tomorrow, I will own a house. (Can't move in yet -- they're renting back for a month, but still, yay!) (Hope that wasn't too soon...knock, knock, knock...)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

This generation got no destination

My nana had this great painted black lacquer jewelry box. When I was a kid, I thought it was so beautiful and elegant and this was the type of thing that classy adults had. For this reason, if I see one at a flea market I. Must. Have. It. 

We are walking down the street in Frederick. There in the window, I see a lovely one with cranes and golden branches. In the hospital thrift shop window. Did you hear me squeal with delight? I'll bet you heard something. I go in. "I'd like to see that black lacquer jewelry box in the front window, please." Older lady gives me a look. "We can't sell that yet." Excuse me? "The items in the window aren't for sale?" I ask. "Not yet." Okay, I'm confused. She tries to explain to me, because, clearly, I am an idiot. "If we sold everything in the front window, well, then we wouldn't have anything to put on display." Of course. "So, I can't buy anything in the front window?" I am clearly trying her patience. I may be one of the dumbest people she has ever met.

It will be for sale, in a few weeks. Ah. Obviously. I can look at the list, but I can't touch it or buy it now. This is an unusual business model.

Of course, I am completely pissed off, but that damn box, it's haunting me. Yeah, I'll probably bust on up to buy it, but I'll be annoyed! Yeah, that'll show 'em.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

If you want to be free, all you got to do is say so

Oh, Sarah Palin, why do I dislike you so? Sure, there are hundreds of reasons. The dopey names for the kids, the hunting out of helicopters, that voice (oh my God, that voice!) The coy oh-guess-what-I'll-be-doing-in-2012 attitude. But I think the biggest reason (which covers a number of the little reasons) is that she's almost the same age as I am and I am really pissed that, somehow, she got to be our representative. 

Being a chick my age, I know lots of chicks my age. And I can line up about 100 that I know personally that are way, way better than Ms. Palin. Women with more education, more intelligence, more charm (seriously, I do not get her appeal at all), more experience, just everything. I think the reason the Tina Fey impersonation was so popular was because folks secretly hoped that Tina Fey would actually replace her. (Sigh of relief -- we can all sleep at night with Tina Fey as Vice President.) I just feel like Sarah Palin represents that attitude of, as a woman, if you're cute and flirty enough, you can do anything. Society will forgive your lack of education and/or experience and/or ability to hold a series of thoughts together.

My hope is that this early entry into the oh-I'm-not-running-for-President-yet-big-wink world will yield one of the following outcomes: (1) more and more people will see (or be reminded) what a moron she is, (2) she will step into some scandal or whatever that will kill her chances, (3) she gets that spot on "The View" (oh, you just know that she'd be just as happy doing that as being President) and stops bothering those of us who don't watch daytime television.

By the way, if you want some real Palin hate, give Bru a call. She'd love to talk to you about it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sets the summer sun on fire

The local gas station/convenience store has the usual assortment of candy, drinks, salty snacks, all those good things. You can buy your sort-of-beat-up flowers, a sewing kit, or a gallon of milk. You know, the usual stuff. It's always good to stop by, to see the latest trend in snacks.

There's one section that is clearly "yeah, we have no idea where these go" (a/k/a "guess what Marketing thought up!") This is where you get your sangria-flavored gum or your chocolate Skittles (yeah, I know: gross) (and I like chocolate.) The other day, I see this light brown stick...thing...I have no idea. Time to investigate: "Chick-O-Stick" (and, good news: "Made in the USA"!) But, seriously, what is this? The "Chick" part makes me think that it's some sort of disgusting chicken-flavored meat snack. But further investigation revealed otherwise. It's "crunchy peanut butter and toasted coconut candy." What? Could there be a worse name? But it sounds so delicious! 

Oh, yeah. I got one.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

When the lights go down in the city

Until last week, I'll bet most of you were willing to admit that you were a Journey fan before you admitted you were a Michael Jackson fan. But if you look at the timing of their biggest stuff, it was about the same time. "Off the Wall": 1979; "Infinity": 1978. And "Thriller": 1982; "Escape": 1982. And, for me, the music of Journey was a bigger deal than Michael Jackson.

Sure, Steve Perry: not a face for video. In fact, I would argue that MTV killed Journey. MTV was made for Duran Duran, who sounded good but looked  so pretty. Steve Perry, not only not-so-pretty, he had that twitchy way of singing. Yeah, that's not a video you need to see over and over. They almost got it with "Faithfully" where they didn't show much of him actually singing, but no one can do the videos like MJ. 

Go through that Journey catalog. If you're about my age, you'll be singing more of those songs than Michael's. "Pretty Young Thing"? "She's Out of my Life"? Even "Thriller"? Please. If I'm in the car and "Open Arms" or "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" comes on, I am singing at the top of my lungs. And I'll bet you know more words to "Don't Stop Believing" than "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." 

Monday, June 29, 2009

I'll stand before the Lord of Song

I wish I would have written this before Friday, but, seriously, I've always felt Michael Jackson was overrated. I'm not saying he wasn't a star; sure, absolutely, he was a star. But was he really this great influence on music that the media and others are claiming he is? Maybe he influenced dance, maybe he influenced folks on how to be a completely whacked-out celebrity head case, but his influence on music? Not so much.

Do you have any Michael Jackson music on your ipod? Okay, maybe you do, but do you have any music because you genuinely feel it's great music or do you have it because "Beat It" reminds you of high school? I love pop music but I have exactly one song with MJ ("ABC"). That means I have as many songs by Hanson as I do Michael Jackson. Yes, he sold a ton of albums,but that doesn't mean I need to hear any of it again. It feels, well, dated to me. Yeah, the videos were awesome, but we're not doing those much anymore. And how many of those albums did he sell because of the videos? I think we all forget how much MTV ruled the world in the mid-80s.

He was a celebrity. He was a media event and played that as much as he could. He clearly did not have a normal life. He was obviously out of his mind and may or may not have committed various crimes. He was interesting to the media, but not because of his music (unless it was because he couldn't make or sell albums at the same rate these days.) The media was there because most stories about him involved the phrase, "oh, you're not going to believe this one." 

I go back to, yes, he was an influence on dance and mixing the dance with the pop music. He set the bar high for the number of records sold, but, no, not an influence on music. 

As I walked to work this morning, Leonard Cohen sang "Hallelujah" to me, and I thought that if I had to choose between all of MJ's music (yes, including the Jackson 5) and this one song, this one song wins, every day of the week. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Leaving Pennsylvania

Yesterday the house was packed up and I left Pennsylvania. After over 20 years, I am no longer a resident of the Keystone State. Moving is always hard, but this was especially bad because it's not just leaving a house, it's leaving a whole part of my life. It's leaving so many parts of my life: my early adulthood, my marriage, my grad school, my first job as a scientist, as a writer. 

I spent a lot of time yesterday, just walking around the house as it was emptied. I remembered when we were making plans for the house, picking out paint colors, all those little things. I remember being happy. I remember laughing a lot. I remember wondering what went wrong, when it happened. I was thinking about how we were so close and now we are separate. I walked around the house, and it was so real, knowing that it is all over. This chapter of my life is done.

When the house was empty, I did one last walk through each room. I cried. I felt like there should be something more I should do, but I couldn't think of anything. I put my keys in a drawer, got into my car, and left Pennsylvania.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Packing it up

Today the house gets packed up. Well, the stuff that is mine -- the former Mr. HP has already moved his things out. The house is both empty-feeling and cluttered. When I arrived, I walked around, just looking at what was left. Yes, I did cry. I don't think there was anything that specifically made me cry, but seeing only half of our things (well, I guess it's now my things and his things), well, I couldn't help it.

Most of yesterday was spent dividing up the little things with TFMrHP. It was amazingly civil. We joked around. ("Take a muffin pan." "Will I ever make muffins?" "Maybe not, but I don't want you saying, 'That bitch didn't even give me a muffin pan.'" "Well, that would be worth it.") (He later found some muffin mix and decided that, yes, he should have a muffin pan.) He had too much stuff for his car, so he packed up my car as well, and we went to his new house. It was definitely odd to see the furniture in a new setting. To see his new life. While I was there I took one of the sprinklers.

I'm still crying on and off, but not too much. Little things trigger it. Last night it occurred to me that he has very few pictures of me. I was always that one taking the pictures (or my mom). The wedding photos are in a small pile in the family room. I should give him some of those pictures, but which ones? Does he want a picture of me? So, yes, I am crying.

I wonder what he thinks about all of this. I guess that's the problem. I can predict his behavior but I have no idea as to what he is thinking, what his emotions about all of this are. Is he sad, is he relieved, is he moving on? I look at his house, and, yes, it is exactly what I would have predicted. It's not the house I would have wanted. (But, it occurs to me, that I would have yielded to what he wanted. If we would have found that house in Maryland, I would have said okay.) I want him to be happy but I don't know if he knows how to do that.

Oh, this is just rambling. It's time to sign off for now.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The beginning of the end

In a few minutes, I am heading up to Pennsylvania for what should be the last time for a while. The last time as a resident, at any rate. I am putting it off, but it needs to be done, that last trip. 

I have lived most of my life (hard to believe sometimes -- I do think of myself as an Ohio girl) in the Philadelphia area, and it's hard for me to believe that I won't have a place up there anymore. The next time I visit, I will truly be a visitor.

I really do love the Philadelphia area. Sure, there are things I don't like so much (the people could be friendlier, the refusal to put up street signs), but it's really become a part of me and a part of my life. I know I will be crying plenty the next few days. And, believe me, it will be over stupid stuff ("oh, an Acme! sniff!")

I am dreading seeing the half-empty house. I am already braced for what that will be like. (At least I think I'm ready, but I know the reality will be much more upsetting.) This may be why I am doing this now: can't blog and drive, so this will put it off just a bit more.

No, it is time to go. Time to face it and say good-bye. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

No Sound, Just Fury

My temper, in case you were wondering: not good. It's generally not under control and goes off, just like that. I try, God knows, I really do, to keep it in check. Unfortunately for those close to me, I spend so much energy keeping it under control at work and in other social situations, I tend to let it fly when I'm at home.

I see myself doing it, losing control, and I hate it so much. I hate that I can't keep that monster in. That I would say those things. Such awful things. Who does this to the people they care about? Well, I do, apparently. And I wish  could just pull that part of myself out and destroy it.

No, it doesn't come to any good. No, it doesn't help "clear the air" or reach an understanding. It hurts other people. And, of course, I can really hurt the people I'm closest to. Sure, I know exactly what to say to make it cut deep. And, unfortunately, when I can't control my temper, those awful things come out.

What I would do to take back some of those things I've said. I wish, I wish I could just be the better version of myself. I really didn't mean it. But I have no idea how to stop myself from doing it again.

Monday, June 8, 2009

With their voices soft as thunder

At night, I worry. I can't help it. If you talk to me at 3 in the afternoon, all is well; I have it under control. Catch me at 10 at night, my life is falling apart. I can't help it. It seems to be when it all crashes in (although 3 a.m. can also be a good time for a freak out as well.) 

I worry about everything. The thought pattern can be something like this: I wonder if I'll ever find a house. Maybe I'll never find a house. Maybe I'll find a house and someone will outbid me. Maybe I'll move into this great house, but the roof will cave in and since I've been mortgaged to the edge, I can't afford to fix it. Ever. Maybe I forgot to pay my Visa bill and my credit rating will be shot, so I won't get the house to begin with. Maybe someone has stolen my Visa number. Maybe someone has stolen my car. Did I see my car today? Did I leave the windows open -- that sounds like rain outside. Maybe it's not rain; maybe the pipes are leaking. Maybe that ceiling fan (yes, the one that has been there for 4 years) will suddenly come loose and gut me in my sleep. 

Yes, all very rational.

I can't seem to not worry. Sometimes I can hold it off for a bit, but then it just shows up a bit later. Sometimes the best solution is to give it to it, not sleep, then crash a few days later. But those can be rough days, the ones with little sleep.

I know there are people who can not worry. I envy them. My old boss Big Red was one of those people. I'd go to him, all up in arms about something, he'd shrug, "What are you gonna do? These things happen. Let's get lunch." So jealous. He probably sleeps like death at night.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Silver Lake

Mr. Higgy-Piggie and I used to walk almost every night. It was a walk through the neighborhood, sometimes varied slightly, but we always went to Silver Lake Park. Silver Lake Park is a very tiny park on the edge of Newtown, at the end of the Newtown trail. It's so tiny and insignificant that when I called the Newtown Parks and Rec Department, they didn't know it existed. ("I don't think there is such a park," she told me. I wondered if perhaps my imagination is better than I thought.)

The park is really just a bridge over a creek, a couple of fields (no picnic tables or anything; just field), and a very short path to a small body of water that someone very generously called Silver Lake. It's a small, stagnant pond which we just called "Goose Poo Pond" as, well, lots of geese without a lot of water movement. They installed a fountain which ran for one year, and it actually seemed to help, but the next year, no more fountain, so we figured the funding must have run out.

For a small park, there was a pretty good diversity of animals. Geese, obviously, the occasional duck, one swan who would give us the stink-eye as if we were invading his space (who we referred to as "Belligerent Swan"). We would occasionally see beavers, who, one night, gnawed down all the little trees, then seemed to disappear. Big bull frogs, who always scared the hell out of me. Bunnies, squirrel, deer, that sort of thing. We could stand on the bridge and see the fish and turtles.

The last walk we took was the day we had our "big talk." We needed air, to get out of the house, so we did our usual walk, ending at Silver Lake Park. As we walked down the path, almost to the lake, I saw something in the path. It was some animal that had been dead a short while; I have no idea what it was. But it was awful. Other animals had clearly gotten to it. This horrible thing, there in the path. 

We quickly turned around. That was the last walk to Silver Lake.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Nothing else matters here

Today GM declared bankruptcy, which is a shame for a lot of people. They're closing a bunch of plants, which just adds to the number of folks who have already lost their jobs. I'm reading about where these plants are located: Ypsilanti, Columbus, Pontiac. It really is sad. 

But there was also this this article in the New York Times about car dealerships closing. Which, I'm sorry, I just don't have the sympathy for the car salesmen that are out of jobs. I'm sure there are some perfectly nice guys (and women, but, really, mostly guys) that are car salesmen. But, you know, most of them: pain in the ass. 

I'm okay at the haggling thing, but the idea of it is just annoying. I hate that you might get one price one day, another price a different day. That if you crack too soon, maybe you're out some cash. I hate, hate, hate, the little tricks: "this would be your monthly payment" (but how much is the car, exactly?) "this is the price of the car (minus your trade-in)." Of course, what I hate the most is the way they treat you. I've had salesmen question what I could afford, wonder why I'd want a stick shift, and get annoyed at me because the color of the car wasn't the most important thing to me ("but you're a girl!" I swear to God, that's what he said.)

I feel bad when anyone is out of a job, but car salesguy, not as much.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's starting to wear me down

I'm sick of house hunting. Really. I'm just fed up with the whole thing. I want to crawl into bed and wake up three months from now, magically moved into a new house, with my stuff unpacked. Heck, I'll even take keeping it in boxes -- I can unpack it myself, thanks.

I find that even looking at listings of houses is making me a bit tired. Another crappy kitchen. Another boring shower. They're starting to look alike. Have I seen that fireplace before? I think I know that purple bedroom.

I want my house to magically appear. I got to redfin constantly, hoping that it will be there. I'm afraid that I'm getting so tired of this whole process that one day I'll see a house and just throw up my hands go say, "Fine, let's be done. This one will work." That I'll settle. And there's a part of me that thinks, well, would it be so bad? It would let me get on with my life.

But I don't want to settle, I want to love it. I'm just getting impatient, you know.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Walking away

Well, apparently I was too insulting. I put in a bid for the hot mess of a house and they were like, "yeah, we're not even going to answer that." So, yes, I am still available, if you know a nice place that will treat me nice.

This is probably not a bad thing. The house really is a mess. It would probably just lead to heartache. I mean, what would I do with those crazy holes in the ceiling anyway? Maybe they're just there to let out the bad spirits -- patching them up may only mess with the feng shui. Even the "good" rooms, the kitchen, the family room, they had issues. Yes, I must remind myself that it's for the best.

I am getting anxious. Of course, the rational side of me knows that there is a house out there for me. I'm starting to get sick of waiting. I'm sure it will all work out, but there are days I'm searching for the fast forward button.

Anyway, I've convinced myself that the hot mess needs an owner that is not me. I will miss the phone by the toilet.

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Latest Love

I may have found a house. I know, it took me long enough. I did have, well, complications, which is a big part of why it has taken so long. But, today, I put in a bid and now it's cross-fingers time.

Let me tell you about it: it's a hot mess. And, yet, I can't stay away. I first saw this house months ago. The good: glorious kitchen (a 15-foot island!), a lovely yard, good location, a glorious kitchen (oh, yeah, it's really [potentially] beautiful). The bad: wacked out master bathroom (with bidet -- ugh!), weird holes in the ceiling (yeah, we're looking at a pretty intense home inspection), missing kitchen cabinet doors, inch of dust on the ceiling fans, lots of little things that make you wonder, "Are they actually trying to sell this house?"

It does scare me. It is quite possible that these people have done no maintenance on it. (Why, yes, those are the original air filters on the furnace, is that a problem?) Here's one: the fan in the one bathroom is missing -- what the hell? Or, here's a better question: what the hell am I thinking buying this house? But the place draws me in. It's got personality.

I have been looking at smaller, more reasonable houses. But those houses will always be starter houses. The house that you hope to move out of someday. This house, while a bit of a mess, could be cleaned up, fixed up, and really be awesome. I can see wanting to stay there. Plus, this house, it fits me. It has things I want (good kitchen, nice but minimal yard, nice family room). Some of its weaknesses (only three bedrooms and one really small one, no real dining room) just don't matter to me. I just hope that they actually want to sell it. We'll see how negotiations go (although I did put in a really insulting offer...)

But, seriously, there's a phone right by the toilet. I mean, what the hell?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Count one to ten

There are times I wonder what might have happened. What would have happened if Mr. Higgy-Piggie would have gotten that pair-programming job in DuPont Circle? (I guess he's technically still Mr. HP, at least for a while longer.) What if he had gotten that job that was in Germantown? What if we had sold the house right away, or had loved a house down here? Would I be doing what I am doing now, I wonder. 

I can always point to things that cause the changes but what about the things that don't happen that cause those changes? I remember being excited about when Mr. HP was coming here, what our life would look like. There are times I look at the houses we were considering and I think, if we lived there, would we have been happy? And it really wasn't so long ago.