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.