May 30, 2008 :: Bright Lights, Big Round Head

I have a weakness I need to confess. For all my practicality, my allegiance to do-it-yourselfness, my despair of overwrought consumer culture....for all my apparent non-girliness (the 3-ton floor jack in my tool shed, the seven types of industrial tape that hold my house together, the self-cleaned drain traps), I have a distinct weakness for the gorgeous, the frilly, the often brightly-colored, less-than-useful things of the female existence. Like the vintage alligator pumps I wear only on very special occasions (because they're about a 1/2 size too small and always make me wonder if I've broken my toes at the end of the night...but damn are they awesome.) Like the sequined-to-the-hilt, silver evening bag that holds my cell phone and my lip gloss--nothing more. Like the 50's Oscar de la renta double-tiered, black-lace-and nude-petticoat skirt I snagged years ago. The ten shades of plum/raisin/mauve-ish lipstick. The rhinestone brooches. The miles of costume pearls. The thirty bottles of nail polish. Geesh, I'm a sucker. If it's got 3-inches of spikedness, organic moisturizing compounds, or 50-years of class oozing off its antique-mall price-tag, I probably own one, or want one. (well, if it's under $15 and I had to dig through a hundred pounds of 80's Cosby sweaters to get it. That's the kicker. I hardly ever buy retail.)

I'm spilling these things, because I don't want any of you to think I've gotten the s-video and gold-plated RCA cabling in my head twisted and shorted out* when you see me walk, confidently, into the first possible showing of this movie. Or come over to find me watching every episode on DVD. Because I own ALL of them.**

Which I will be doing tonight, as I clean out closets, wire dimmer switches, and change the air-return filter on my industrial furnace. A girl's got stuff to do, you know? And maybe, while I'm doing that, I'll wear those Red Cross brand patent leather 40's era heels I bought a few months ago. They're fire-engine red. And sparkly.

*I think, honestly, I do love the fashion and urbane-ness and all the bling of the show, but mostly, I love the connected "sisterhood" the characters have going. The idea that neither man nor bad haircut nor social blunder would keep the friendship from growing and strengthening. Every woman needs that, I think. Me included. I'm auditioning potentials now... :)

**I purchased a cobbled-together "box set" years ago, from some industrious Canadian who'd collected them all and then put them on ebay. When Blake and I met, he saw the collection, and confessed that he too has seen
every episode, twice. Now that's a match made in heaven. Or maybe Bloomingdale's.



May 27, 2008 :: Empty. Manhattan Cafe, Athens, GA

I do love the city. Don't get me wrong. But visiting places that confront me just a bit less with the seething crush of humanity one experiences in downtown Atlanta always soften me around the edges a little. It reminds me of growing up rural. Makes me slow down and take notice of detail, light, sound (or the absence of it). Where I live, there's too many cars by about a million. There's no such thing as an empty store, a lunch that doesn't require about ten more minutes wait than you wanted, an armpit-to-the-face (or bumper-to-the-bumper) ride home. And I know I'm complaining about very little, given this isn't Manhattan at rush hour, or even Chicago inside the loop. To be honest, I don't even really notice this stuff...until Blake and I walk into a restaurant and are greeted warmly, immediately, and shown to a table where a pleasant waitperson wants to know what we're drinking. I don't even think about it, until I walk right up to the hotel front desk and check in. Until I walk into a little coffee-shop and don't have ten 6-step lattes barking trash into cell phones in front of me. (Ok, so the great servers thing absolutely happens in my neighborhood, but you have to work hard at it. Until you know the staff, their spouses' names, their shifts and their plans for the next tattoo, you're often gettin' a big pint of nuthin'. Awesome. But, there's also something about being treated someone that doesn't know you.)

So that little bit of calm (the empty, post-semester dive bar, the pub with free bread and cheese, the quiet streets dotted with vendors) was what I took from our weekend trip to Athens. Well, that and impromptu music sets full of country-rock covers, 2AM taco bell and a bed the size of my living room, all shared with my favorite traveling companion (Mr. Rainey, of course) make for the best kind of 24-hour getaway.

But then it was over, and we came back to the steaming city. The bustling, teeming mess. To be greeted by a solitary Monday morning stroll, ten empty seats at the neighborhood cafe, and a wonderful salmon-and-lox brunch with the small pup in tow. All that, and a friendly, genuinely nice waitress to boot.

Maybe we brought some empty back with us.



May 23, 2008 :: It's time to play the music...It's time to light the lights...

Oh my. Why did no one tell me that this came out three days before my birthday last year?

I think I fully imagined when I was a kid that I would marry Kermit the Frog. He was so humble. And kind. And musically talented. And genuine. Fortunately, I can say that I do get to marry someone genuinely kind, and talented, and, thankfully, a lot less green.

And that's a hell of a nice revelation to start the three-day weekend.

'Til next week, interweb. Hope you have a good one, too.



May 22, 2008 :: high on work

I've held many a job in my scant 31 years on this earth. I've been a truckstop waitress (No joke. I was a 15-year old truckstop waitress at a slimy, German-esque restaurant on I-74, on the Ohio/Indiana state line. That's a whole other post.) I've fired and painted pottery. I've sold wicker furniture, "containers" of all shapes and sizes, and bloomin' onions on big platters. I've shelved books and dioramas. I spent 3 years renting out movies in the Ball State Library basement. (That's three straight years watching movies, really.) I once spent a summer cutting people's wedding cakes, chicken-dancing and ushering drunks off a wooden dance floor. I've taught high school kids what nouns and verbs are. (really. they actually didn't know.) I've cold-called construction companies, prayed to the IT gods for mercy over 50 Windows NT workstations, programmed Linux-based phone systems and wireframed websites.

And after all of that, aside from being tired just looking at that list, I am always quite aware of the elegant, whooshing feeling of calm gratitude that having a truly great job brings you. I have one of those jobs now, and I thank whatever part of the universe might be listening every damn day for it. Because I remember the low points from all those others.

Like getting my ass pinched by wiener-schnitzel greasy fingers belonging to road crews and rednecks at the truck stop. Like the ranting, raving, cube-farm harpy of a boss that once called me into her office just to ask me if I was a "f**king idiot?!" The day I spilled a flaming tray of steak fajitas on some poor guy's lap. The evil, immoral control freak I worked for at another creative company here in the city. The endless long nights and ridiculous deadlines, the belittling remarks, the feeling of dread when I entered the building...most of those buildings.

To be honest, until I became a professional writer, I thought I was patently unemployable. I get bored really easily. I am more than wary of the man, and fight a crazy battle with him inside my head at all times. I get lazy and tired of coming to work when the work isn't challenging enough. (And by that, I mean if I am not learning something new every single day.) I don't wear nearly enough flair. I don't take direction well. I'm not a "team player." Flourescents make me surly. I dream about eviscerating powertripping middle management jerkfaces. And then keying their $50,000 cars.

So, when that little google reminder at the top of this post showed up this morning, heralding a meeting with smart, nice people on an awesome project (this one) on the gorgeous roof of this building, I did a little happy dance, right there at my desk, and sent out a warm thought to all the people I know that aren't so lucky.

Keep trying. In my experience, you have to clean up a lot of sauerbraten, watch Das Boot about 50 times, make 1000000 phone calls, be drug all over the country by a mad man with an apparently inexhaustible expense account (ok, i have to admit, that one was fun), and basically, kiss a lot of crappy vending machine lunches before you find the most ahhhhhh-inspiring way to spend your 9-5.



May 20, 2008 :: A tiny grr from Ollie.

Charmed Life.

I am smitten with a book. (Blake is in love with Tibor Kalman. I am in love with his widow. Read the book.)

I am smitten with a blog. (where did this person GO? Five amazing posts and they disappear. Maybe this was intentional mystery?)

I am smitten with a recipe. (Isn't that the most unappealingly delicious thing you've ever seen?)

(I am also SO smitten with the beefy, dot-eyed dog above. She has turned out to be the sweetest creature I've ever known. Stories to come.)



May 19, 2008 :: Partridge Restaurant, that place named for that other place, USA

Oh my, weekend.

Considering what we usually do on the weekends goes something like: plant something in the yard; sit down/nap; clean a room or two; sit down/nap; play 'the game*' on rhapsody; walk with the dogs; sit down/nap; eat, drink, repeat - this weekend was a veritable whirlwind of activity. I'm tired. Good tired. Damn good tired.

First: Rome. Really, what is the fascination U.S. states have with naming their cities/towns after cities/towns in other countries? Rome, Georgia was hardly settled by Roman soldiers. Athens, probably not so many Greeks (unless you count the beer-bonging, walk-of-shame type). Are they shooting for some kind of prestigious sister-cityship? I think they give those out for free, just for the asking. Anyway, Georgia's got a couple of these european-cum-southen places, but Indiana's so much worse about it. At least they don't mangle "Rome" into, um, I don't know, RO-may or something. My home state boasts a "Milan" (pronounced "MY-lin") and, my personal favorite, a "Valparaiso" pronounced, within the state lines as Val-a-PRAISE-o. That's "VAL-para-IS-o" to the rest of the world. Go Hoosiers.

Anyway, we drove to the fanciful city of Rom-ay this weekend so Blake could enjoy a well-paid family reunion of sorts that featured him playing a nice Young Antiques set (fully censored, of course) in front of parents, cousins, grandparents, and half of Polk County. I never realized how much "objectionable" content his songs contained, until I watched him, hilariously, try to change lyrics like "the best place around for lonely mothers and pussy-hounds" into something more G-rated on the fly. He hadn't thought it through beforehand, apparently, and watching him careen toward a bar or two containing something questionable was like watching a deer get a good first look at an oncoming Hummer.

Next, there was tipsy chess in a smoky cigar bar, sleep-of-the-dead at a friend's house, Huddle House waffles and bacon, drivingdrivingdriving, Costello on Vinyl, dog walking, a vegetarian grill-out (who knew they make a tofu-brat? and that it's really good?), and Liam Finn and Laura Veirs at the EARL. Chronologically, that's: dead-boring, comatosely-peaceful, gut-wrenching, butt-numbing, butt-shaking, butt-toning, ethically tasty, jump-up-and-down fantastic, and back to dead-boring. Chess and Laura Veirs in concert--two things that made me consider taking a nice nap in the middle of a public space this weekend. I guess I'm not as much of a geekilectual hipster as I thought. I don't know how to play chess, and that girl that sings with the Decemberists conks out all brain function for me. Better hang up my chucks and my ennui.

Next weekend, that other city: Athens. A place where, on my first trip, one of the people I was traveling with was thrown out of our hotel, and on my second, Blake threw up on me. As compared to the cricket-tinged calm of Rome, this trip should be much more interesting.

*If I haven't mentioned it before, "the game" is the most fantastic use of the Rhapsody music service ever invented. You get two or more people together, come up with a category ("song that most represented you at age 8," "bad duets," "1987," and "incoherent punk," have been past selections), and have each player choose two songs that fit the category. After everyone has gotten their turn, from there, the topic may or may not evolve. The goal (at least how we play it) is to show off your obscure music geekitude by choosing songs that have a less-than-obvious connection to the one before it. A simple sequence might be: Wilco to Son Volt to the Jayhawks to Band of Horses (who I think sound a lot like the Jayhawks at times). That one's kind of lame. Greater points go to putting together rockers who were sleeping together, or having six songs in a row that were recorded at the same, obscure, basement studio. Blake's awesome at this.

People fall into two camps over this game. Kind of like cottage cheese. It either sounds like the BEST way EVER to spend a Saturday night, or like something you'd only choose over the chance to have someone pull your fingernails out with pliers. If you're in the first - come over and play! The more heads the better!



May 15, 2008 :: ABC3D

Today is rainy and on the introspective side, and in lieu of a photograph from me (my cards are full, but I've got no reader today), I send you this amazing alphabet book. Pop-up books and books with 3-dimensional elements have always been huge favorites of mine, ever since my mom brought me home a beat up copy of pat the bunny a zillion years ago. I also thought that this book was a pop-up, when I started remembering childhood readings, but I must be thinking of something else.

Regardless, in seeing Poky the Puppy for the first time in 25 years, I've realized that he looks an awful lot like Ollie. Who I miss terribly while I'm at work. And who looked at me with such adorable, gut-wrenching cuteness as I left this morning it about made me cry.

So continues the sullen rainy day. Blech.



May 14, 2008 :: what me, worry?

Words of wisdom:

"Productivity means never wasting time on what doesn't matter." (via Lifehack)

"One does not own what one cannot carry." (Daniel Philippe Mason in Harper's)

"It could be worse." (subversive cross-stitch from headless press.)



May 13, 2008 :: Nu shooz

Chuck Taylor One-Stars from Tar-jay. Made for walkin. Which I did yesterday and Blake and I will do tonight with our newly-clean doggies. A point: allow a white puppy to play with total, unbridled joy and abandon in an underdeveloped yard for the greater part of a sunny weekend, and you end up with a dodgey dirt-bomb on four legs, and muddy paw prints all over your green, mid-century couch. Yeah. That's exactly what. So, the squirmer was washed last night, which made her terrified, then sullen, then so ecstatic she peed a big crazy circle in the living room. Apparently, we can't win.

Other things since I last said anything of substance...
  • Jane stopped puking. We think she ate a rogue chili pepper that rolled out the open kitchen window during a grilling party a week or so back. Other things that have rolled out that window: several ripening avocadoes, ant bait, a set of pudgy bluebird salt-n-pepper shakers, and the steel pins that are meant to keep Cabbagetown's not-so-finest from prying open our 120 year old sashes. Kind of useless, since most of the window weights are broken, and you'd have to be the Incredible Hulk to get one open over your head anyway.
  • The wedding planneth beginnith. I have compiled (mostly) Indiana and Georgia guest lists, considered a rain contingency plan that sounds better than my original plan, and secured a wedding "planner" of sorts...for free. Industrious friends rock.
  • We tried to plan a Memorial Day vacation. And then it backfired. We wanted to take the dog friends to the beach. Savannah is the closest. Tybee doesn't allow dogs. St. Simons/Jekyll is 5+ hours away, requires 3 night stays at all its hotels, and the van gets like 8 miles to the gallon. So, no beach for us right now. Instead, I think we're going to Athens to see a band or two, hang out with Blake's music-industry friends, drink $3 pint glass-sized gin and tonics, and dream about packing up our citified life, becoming bartenders, and buying a house in the country. Like we do every time we go to Athens. Because it sounds fun for a half a second.
  • We watched Juno. I came into this one warily. I've read both the hype and the rebuttal from hipsters complaining that the movie was too hipstery. It's all blech. Pfaff. I knew I'd love this because I have a ridiculously high tolerance for witty banter and throwback references set in a world filled with flocked green wallpaper and beat-up late model vehicles. I enjoy twee. Especially the word twee. Gimme 5000 words of the Gilmore Girls. Give me stylized, intellectual meaninglessness. Give me more Dario Argento references in mainstream cinema. Don't give me sappy, teary-eyed techno-remakes of the stuff I remember from when I was eight. (Damn you, speedracer!!!) I don't think I'm special because I like this stuff, I just like it. It's part of who I am, and maybe even more part of who I was when the Thundercats were actually on TV and we log-rolled our already pegged jeans and turned up our collars. Look at my shoes, for god's sake. I'm unapologetic for my love of Wes Andersen and "sappy indie rock." But you detractors can suck it anyway. Oh, but the part where Jason Bateman becomes a creepy cradle-robber for a minute? Totally unnecessary. That completely skeeved me out. Why, Diablo Cody? Why?



May 9, 2008 :: Jukebox Hero. Star Bar Elvis Shrine, L5P

Tonight, the company I work for is putting on a big-deal cajun-flavoured shindig on our building's rooftop deck, complete with lobster-printed bibs to catch low country boil juices; an open bar that serves beer, wine and hurricanes; and, so I thought, live entertainment. It's a "thanks for workin' with us" kind of get together for 200 or so clients and creative-industry folks--for the most part amiable, stylish, urban sorts who probably know a good party when they open the evite. But, thanks to forces I really can't explain other than to say that even cocktail-appropriate background music is apparently a very touchy subject, we're not hiring a band. (I'm frowning so hard internally my ego is creping around the eyes.) Instead, my office-mate J. has generously put together a randomized ipod list of hearty party songs. And that was no easy task either. Man. People have serious opinions about what makes a good auditory experience. I argue, after a hurricane or two, I bet no one will be able to name that tune anyway.

Anyway, here's to J. Don't wreck the DJ.



May 7, 2008 :: success.

Few things feel better than watching five inches of cantankerous hair fall to the floor. Well, maybe watching fifteen pounds fall off your ass. That's next.



May 6, 2008 :: "it"

I've had it. The frizzy unruliness. The christmas-tree shape. The raging, schizophrenic, matted cacophony of homeless-chic nesting on the top of my head. Blake meant well when he suggested, months ago, that I might look great with longish hair. I protested. Told him that every attempt I've ever made to pull off rita hayworth locks that tumble down my back and lay luxuriously in rivers of coordinated waves has turned out looking more like the fur of a wet dog with chemical burn. But I love him. So, I also told him that I'd indulge him and try.

It was a valiant attempt, but it has recently become obvious that my hair has won the war.

Today I will be visiting miss Jenny at the Dada salon, very conveniently located across from the Inman Park Marta station. She will be saving me from being further mistaken as some kind of walking shrubbery with a nice, short bob and perhaps some bangs. Bangs! Something I haven't entertained since I was 16 years old and daily armed myself with an extra-hot curling iron and an entire can of Rave hairspray.

But, this is what I do in desperation.

After pics forthcoming, unless I can't stand it and shave it all off, crazy-eyed Brittney style. (Which I've done before, so this should leave you in considerable suspense.)



May 2, 2008 :: That kind of day.

First: After waking up, an hour late and with a fun little UTI, I catch a ride to work with Blake, where I check email and find that the project several of us busted ass to finish yesterday was unilaterally despised by the client and must be redone immediately, as the deadline was fairly "tight" to begin with, and now has reached designation that might be better characterized by a non-sensical scream word, like...AAARRRRGGGH!!! or AWEWOANNNNUUUH!! or the like. I then leave a voicemail for my doctor's "phone nurse" (the closest one gets to human contact at my physician's office without being ten seconds from death or keeping a 6-month advance appointment), who, tells me, three hours later, that the doctor does not like prescribing antibiotics over the phone, and could I come in and pee in a cup for them? No, I cannot, I say, because I have no vehicle today, nor the luxury to wait 45 minutes past my appointment time to never even see a doctor and then unceremoniously unseal a specimen cup. Could I courier my little yellow gift to them? No? Damn. Also, I question the nurse, is this somehow not the same doctor who prescribed me much stronger antibiotics over the phone two months ago when even I was sure I just had a bad cold? The nurse says yes, this is the same woman, so she'll consider it and call me back. She doesn't. I wait, and afraid to waste a trip down the street to Kroger when I could be picking up both soggy boxed sushi and life-affirming antibiotics, I miss lunch. I eat stale pretzels and red licorice and call all of it a loss--most of all my bladder. Blake does call, however. He's done only 1/3 of the things he must complete before this afternoon, and has wasted an hour in traffic attempting to get the emissions checked on our van. He will waste another hour returning, as his location is within Atlanta's famed 7th-circle of commuter hell, and apparently the afternoon rush hour begins at 11 AM these days. He then calls back from home, to tell me that Jane has been throwing up, and hasn't eaten her breakfast. She's been throwing up all night...and we have to leave very shortly. Great.

Next: In an hour and a half I will step out of this building, ride a mid afternoon train toward Inman Park and then cram myself into a black dress I haven't worn since my metabolism apparently conked out and I can eat nothing but air and fairy dust to maintain my current, not so fabulous anyway, weight. I will then get into a car and go to a funeral. And then I will spend the night at my future in-laws' home, where pre-marital bed-sharing is not condoned.

Friday: 1
Kendra: 0