December 30, 2004

Is this a sign?

This morning went smoothly – I got up in plenty of time, had a cup of coffee (at HOME, as opposed to the cup normally chugged in the car on the way to work) – hell, I even had time to spare for 3 attention-starved kitties. The fashion focus for today is black – black socks, black pants, black shirt, and black jacket. Imagine my dismay as I trudged up the hill towards Big Al’s lair and noticed my BROWN shoes. Ugh. I am not a “purse must match shoes, belt, etc” kind of gal, but I do like my footwear to sort of go with the outfit (hence the reason why I generally only wear black or brown shoes). Sigh.

This may be the last blog for the week – unless I can muster up something incredibly inventive in the meantime. However, most topics seem fairly trite right now in the grand scheme of all that is happening in Asia. I just don’t have any original thoughts to add to the mix – now is a time to offer what little $$ we can, give our loved ones an extra hug, and just be grateful.

Let’s see what the New Year holds.

December 29, 2004

Have you donated?

I know my posts can be snarky, sarcastic and cynical. Obviously, blogging and reality are sometimes not in sync. This week has been a time when I am sure most of us have reflected on how truly lucky we are to have running water and a roof. Mr. X and I have been very fortunate - his family was not affected by the tsunamis and our friends' families have been minimally affected (or not at all).

We have donated through the Australian Red Cross - they were the first country to respond and they have a secure online donation site (they will convert your American $$ into AU$$ for you). I just thought I would share this easy way to contribute.

Update: Mr. X threw some Rancid Raves $$$ towards the Australian Red Cross, but today I decided to throw some $$$ towards Doctors Without Borders. One of my own doctors has donated time to them over the years, so I know they are more than just a convenient ER episode plotline.

Ever just make $hit up??

For all the comments about foreigners and minorities using incorrect English, I am witnessing an alarming amount of Vocabulary Fabrication in the workplace, by people who, shall we say, are in the Majority. It’s to the extent that sometimes I can’t even understand what these people are saying and they behave as if they are SO clever and intelligent when they use these ridiculous creations. Seriously.

Caveat: I can’t stand most of the people who invented/used the following examples. Maybe that colored my perception, but hey, this post wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining otherwise. Also, I can make all these rude comments since I am in the said Majority and Mr. X. is an immigrant of Indian extraction (known as a “fer’ner” in these here parts). Therefore, Rancid Raves has both camps covered. So there.

Irregardless: This is a common one, I know, but it still irks me.

Cull: "When we get those high-dollar culls......" I am being super-duper picky here, but the issue I have with this one is that for MONTHS, I thought these high-dollar culls were REJECTS - that is usually how this word is utilitzed (hence the definition of "to weed out"). When I brought this up at a meeting where the Major Offenders were in attendance, everyone looked at me blankly and blinkingly (cue in the high octave piano keys). I soon gave up on this one.

Sure Up: “Let’s sure up that software before we release it.” Um, Mensa Reject, how about SHORE up?

Disincent: “We need to disincent our users from sharing passwords.” I like that spellchecker suggested “disinfect” for this one. The dummy that used this word could use some of that.

Over-the-walls: “We will review the over-the-walls and get back with you.” I hear this and still can't rid of the image of Buster from Arrested Development trying to finish his last task so he could sneak into the Army.

One-Offs: “Well, when we get the one-off we can test it.”. Would it kill you to just say NEW VERSION or PATCH? No, it's not creative, but it is UNDERSTOOD.

Dialogue: “We can dialogue about that later”. Last time I checked, dialogue is a NOUN. Same goes for “parking lot”. Get with the program, people.

Have you heard any Vocabulary Fabrications recently that grate your nerves?

December 27, 2004

Um, what time was that again?

Well, Christmas morning, we arrive at Church 9:00 a.m. sharp. The first thing we notice is the trickle of cars leaving the parking lot. Our first reaction was "Damn, is the parking lot already full?" (this is not an uncommon occurrence at our church when Holy Day Catholics such as Mr. X and I rush to Church in droves) However, it seems the parking lot was not full - perhaps the lot had been full at 8:00 a.m., the actual start of the service. However, this will be forever a mystery unsolved since I am a dumbass and can't read church bulletins correctly.

Anyway, other than that hiccup, the weekend went great as I hosted #4 and #5 of my total Christmas gatherings. It was a nice mix with very few overlaps of social and familial groups (other than my sister, who attended nearly every gathering this season). The one shocking thing was that PEOPLE WOULD NOT LEAVE. Apparently, this new house is SO comfortable, people were settling down for the long haul. Group #4 didn’t leave until 11:30 Friday evening, so I was a little bleary-eyed when I woke up Saturday at 7:00 a.m. to pop the turkey in the oven. However, a few cups of coffee and I was ready to go. The day went great, I artfully side-stepped all Baby and Fertility-Related questions. I even appreciated (as always) how easy that particular side of the family is to host (eek – the OTHER side of the family includes Crazy Grandma and Health Nut Diet Cola Swigging Aunt who has a Busch Beer Quaffing Expert for a son. Enough said, right?)

One thing I don’t understand is why people think that leaving all their leftovers for TWO people is a good thing. Can Mr. X and I really eat an entire gooseberry pie, half a banana cream pie and part of a pumpkin pie before they go bad?? No, we can’t. It’s criminal how much food I had to throw out this holiday season. Criminal.

I’m sorry; my reserves of witty repartee are all tapped out. Let’s hope one more evening of rest will have me recovered tomorrow morning.

December 24, 2004

Have you ever faked it?

First off, everyone have a lovely weekend, holiday or Christmas – your choice! It’s a shame that “Peace on earth, goodwill towards man” sounds so trite, because it really sums things up quite perfectly, don’t you think?

On a lighter note, Mr X. and I exchanged our Christmas presents last night. He is the cutest when it comes to gift exchanges – he usually buys mine at the last minute, but is like a little kid when he brings it home. He can never wait to give it to me. I should also mention that he usually hands over kicka$$ gifts, so I can’t say I protest too much on this policy of his. This year he gave me Sims, which I have wanted ever since we bought the new computer. Furthermore, he got the one with the Livin’ Large Expansion pack (Paris, move over! There's a new gal in town). Score! He actually paid attention a while back when we were talking about potential software purchases and I mentioned that getting Sims would be cool. He listened! Ladies, let’s face it, that’s the greatest gift of all.

The only downside of this gift is that it has become quite clear that Mr. X has discovered my dirty little secret – my increasingly worsening Yarn Habit (I can quit anytime, I SWEAR it. Really.). As I pondered out loud which TV show should bite the dust first so I’d have more time for Sims (Joey, I hardly knew ye.) - Mr. X brightly piped up, “Well, you could knit less. It would be cheaper, too”. Ack! I knew I shouldn’t have stuffed all that yarn in the hall closet. Now that it is colder, he must have noticed my Stash when he was digging for his coat. Damn! It was easier hiding cigarettes from my mother.

Hmmm, I see here that you can assign hobbies to your Sims……. I wonder…....perhaps………Nah, sorry Babycakes, many things are simulated nowadays, but that lovely feeling of bamboo and luxurious yarn in your hands can never be faked.

December 23, 2004

Is this too much snark for one week?

Thank you, Old n’ Bald Speedo Man. When you appeared before me, a vision of Christmas spirit with your tree and ornaments for all to see, I forgot that it was a bitter 7 Fahrenheit morning, that it was 6:00AM, and that I still had to work out while resisting the rising vomit in my throat.

December 22, 2004

Is my nose in the air?

Please note: Rancid Raves could stand to lose a little weight herself. But still.

I present for you, your daily recommended dose of Snark:
What the f&ck is up with the reindeer antlers? Should my co-workers wear them? Seriously, now. For the love of all things Christmas - people! Enough with the reindeer antlers. If your age has surpassed single digits, you have exceeded the appropriate limits for wearing such ridiculous attire. Furthermore, if your BMI is over 30, shame on you! You most likely already know the cruelty of people yet you still give ammunition for those disparaging remarks made by typical Buff n’ Stuff dudes that think they are God’s gifts to women.

Think again, please.

December 21, 2004

What’s her gripe?

One of the things I love most about exercising at the gym with my iPod is that I am able to really LISTEN to music – you know, actually pay attention to the lyrics that someone took the precious time to write. This morning, as I was listening to “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton (Yes –I LOVE Dolly Parton. I also worship Pink Floyd. Same goes for Iron Maiden and Chopin. What’s it to you? ) Anyway, I am listening to the lyrics realizing this chick is a big whiner - 9 to 5?? Who’s she kidding? Where in the hell did she find this dream job? The only time I get to leave the office at 5 is if I sneak out – stealthily – by walking very slowly so my laptop bag zippers don’t jingle too loudly. Also, 9 to 5 is an 8 hour day – when does she eat lunch? Sure, her boss may have chased her around the office and she had the goofiest, most irritating co-workers, but let’s face it folks, she was barely pulling a 40 hour week. Sheesh.

Sidebar: Speaking of lyrics – the Afternoon Delight skit on Arrested Development this last Sunday was hilarious. For you AD fans, here is a great link to them: What? You're not watching AD? People, people! Get with the program and tune into the funniest comedy on TV right now. It didn't win an Emmy for nothing, after all. Those Hollywood Flakes and Fakes knew what they were doing, for once.

December 15, 2004

Now, how does this work?

This month, Mr. X and I will commence the great DNA Project in the hopes we produce a lower case x for ourselves. (Read: We’re trying to have a baby). I am a little nervous about this for several reasons:

Free-Time: I will miss you my good friend. How many years did I take you for granted? Can you ever forgive me for maligning your good name? Which hobby will be the first to bite the dust if said DNA Project is successful? I guess I could give up the TV and raku, but don’t you dare think about my books, yarn and beads!

Nosy Relatives: Nothing grosses me out more than discussing my potential fertility with the Family. Apparently, when a girl gets married, permission is granted for all to discuss the current status of her uterus. "Anyone in there? No? Why not? Well, when? You’re not getting any younger, you know.” Thanks for the newsflash, folks. I guess I should have married Asshole #2 instead of waiting for Mr. Absolutely Perfect for Me (aka Mr. X) in order to satisfy your tight timelines.

Career Status: In January, Big Al is clearing house and he may join the legions of My Careers Past. Therefore, I am going through yet another career crisis which is beginning to seem like a yearly exercise. Unfortunately, DNA Projects don’t believe in project plans and I‘m not sure what to do. Stay at a job that’s eating my creative soul in the hopes it looks better for my resume when I go off-roading on the Mommy Track? Or hunt for a new gig knowing full well I will head for the door within the next few years?

The Worrying: I admit it. I am a worrywart. I have spent a lifetime devoting myself slavishly to this task and I see no reason to convert to another religion now. After all, I spent my 20s worrying I would get pregnant, it’s only appropriate I am doomed to spend my 30s worrying that I will not get pregnant. But then again, what if I do get pregnant? Oof.

P.S. My solemn vow to you, Dear Reader, is that this won’t turn into an All About Babies Blog. Refer to Free Time – you can rest assured he will continue to keep me occupied and amply supplied with appropriate Posting Material.

Do you believe in Santa?

The current debate raging in my sister’s circle is whether their children should be included in the myth of Santa. Apparently, there is concern that by lying to children about Santa you are setting them up for a lifetime of mistrust, betrayal, disappointment and ultimately, jail-time. I tried to keep my voice calm as I gently (at least, I hope it sounded that way) told my sister, that the myth of Santa is relatively mild. I mean, when I play a rousing game of Let Me Count the Ways My Parents Messed Me Up, Santa simply doesn’t make the hit list.

Do you remember when you discovered Santa wasn’t real? I don’t. I remember hearing rumors furtively whispered during lunch time, but I don’t recall being shocked or heartbroken. I didn’t believe the cruel gossip most probably because I didn’t WANT to. Let’s face it – Santa was FUN. He added mystery ad magic to the holiday season. In my house, Santa didn’t bring loads of toys, but he did fill our stockings and always left a special gift or two under the tree. Unlike my parent’s carefully wrapped presents that I could gain an inkling as to the contents, Santa’s gifts were always a complete surprise and not necessarily anything I had even asked for specifically on my List. In short, Santa was a righteous dude and always brought kick-ass gear. Would I deny my own progeny the joys of Santa?

Hell, no.

December 14, 2004

So, what's your game?

Last week, I went to Vegas, that veritable neonopolis of questionable fashion choices and free drinks. What was I doing there? Average Jane got married! Well, actually she and her husband renewed their 10 year wedding vows with an Elvis impersonator, but hey, why quibble? Since it was her big day, I'll let her post our mutual experiences

Since Mr. X had a business trip interfering with our plans, I spent the first day in Vegas all by myself. I flew in Thursday morning and looked forward to an entire glorious day all to myself. What was so special about this? Well, since I have family that lives in nearby Henderson, I have been going to Vegas since I was a kid - every trip there requires obligations (I also have a good friend that lives there). Therefore, this day was pretty cool for me - a whole day to do what I wanted, when I wanted, where I wanted. A day all about ME:

Liberace Museum: I have always wanted to see this place and decided today was the day. I picked up the rental car and happily headed the opposite direction of the Strip. I was not disappointed. Liberace was the poster boy for gaudy excess and he delighted in sharing his treasures. Thank you Liberace! His collection of vintage cars, rare antique pianos, ridiculous jewelry, and clothing confections were astounding. Odd as it seems, a highlight was seeing his Emmys - I've never seen an Emmy up close before so that was pretty cool. I highly recommend the Liberace Museum - it is definitely an under-rated Vegas gem.

Local Yarn Store (LYS): After the sensory overload at the Liberace museum, I headed over to Gail Knits an LYS on the west side of Vegas. The store had a beautiful selection! However, although the store personnel was helpful, the owner was not particularly nice. They did have a nice assortment of Noro yarn so that made up for the lack of friendliness and I would still go back there. I picked up some lovely yarn for my sister's birthday scarf and of course, some Noro.

Tower Records: I quickly realized I wasn't going to have the patience to skip through the radio stations in the rental car, so I treated myself to a rare CD puchase. I snagged a nice boxed set of Pink Floyd's Umma Gumma that I have been ogling for a long, long time. I will burn it to MP3, of course, but as I would never part with my Pink Floyd CD collection, the purchase wasn't in vain.

Bellagio:This is my favorite casino. Period. It was so relaxing to wander around, check out the latest display in the conservatory, drink a $8 coffee and hang out at the craps table. I always double my $$ there and that day was no exception. A highlight of the trip was that I managed to score a quality art viewing as the Art Gallery was having a Monet exhibition (on loan from the Boston Museum of Fine Art). It was nicely arranged in the space and the audio tour was informative and very illuminating. I walked away with an even greater impression of Monet. (um, yeah. couldn't resist that incredibly bad pun).

Gambling:Someone once said "If you plan to leave Vegas with a small fortune, go there with a large one." While that may be true, I actually had great luck this time. I tried out a new concept called Restraint and it served me well. Apparently, when you don't drink too much and manage to keep your greed in check, you can actually WIN in Vegas. Imagine that! I played craps and blackjack - both were equally kind to me. I made lots of Temporary Friends (you know, those people that you talk to for a few hours while gambling. But during those few hours you are the Bestest Friends Ever!)

For the rest of my exciting adventures, refer to Average Jane . She's got the skinny on our hunt for an elusive evening bag (I did find mine eventually at the Desert Passage), hobbling around in our super-cute shoes thus cementing our status as Fashion Victims, hanging out with Elvis, adoring the offspring of a famous swing band dude I'd never heard of before, and spinning around during our lovely dinner at the Top of the World restaurant in the Stratosphere.

Here's for passing the buck.

December 7, 2004

Are you having trouble finding your Christmas spirit?

Whew. I sure am. Don't get me wrong - I hosted 2 Christmas parties over the weekend. I loved both of them and had so much fun - in the way that I LOVE hosting parties, that is (truly, I do - what more fun can there be in people coming to see YOU). Now, the Christmas part? Well, I just wasn't really sold. I enjoyed decorating the house and have watched a few of my Christmas movies from my hefty collection, but frankly - I am just not that into you, Christmas Spirit. Was it the way you tried to ingratiate yourself into my life before Halloween? Is it how you appear on my TV incessantly trying to encourage me to dig my hole of debt deeper? Is it the way you leap at me in your vivid reds and greens the moment I enter any destination of commerce? No, not so much - you try those tricks every year. I guess, for once, I just want to do the bare minimum and simply relax during these holidays. The theme coming from the Rancid Raves le Manse will be Gift Certificate O' Rama. I will still send out Christmas cards, but will simply sign them instead of trying to think of something original to write on every single one of them. And finally, this Christmas Day, I will throw out some simple food (turkey BREAST is good enough - not the whole damn thing, right?). Basically, I will concentrate on just relaxing that day and enjoying being with my family.

Come to think of it, maybe I haven't lost the Spirit after all.

December 3, 2004

Like to hear some rambling?

Well, I realize my blogging attempts in November were sparse. Yikes. So that I can begin anew in December, I offer this November recap as a Rancid Peace Offering.

Jacksonville – Horrible trip, terrible hotel, and we only got to eat dinner out ONCE. The rest of our dinners were spent scarfing down pretzels from the pitiful cafeteria. I was surprised at the dumpiness of the place – I had imagined Florida to be more tropical and really it was more like Lower Georgia – complete with Older White Man Bigot. You know the type. This guy had no qualms telling me over lunch that he voted for Bush “because a woman doesn’t have the right to choose”. I nearly choked, but managed to compose myself and resisted the urge to jump over the table and choke him. Grrrrrrr.

Philadelphia – Well Philadelphia was better than expected. The people in that office are pretty crabby and let’s just admit that they were not excited about us visiting (this was the 4th scheduled visit – the previous 3, they managed to weasel out of). Most of the trip was spent working (we logged 60+ hours for that week which included the weekend). However, on the Saturday we were there, we only worked a part day. I declared it to be a Taxi-Free Day and I conducted my own personal walking tour. I was staying in Society Hill and walked to Antique Row to check out a LYS (local yarn store to you non-knitters). Sophie’s Yarn was a lovely little shop with great selections and a courteous staff. Even the requisite Store Cats were in residence. Since I was missing my own little fur balls, this was an added bonus for me. I picked up some cool yarn, and then ambled my way downtown to get closer the Big Al’s Lair. I stopped in Washington Square Park and started my new knitting project there. The weather was mild, slightly chilly, but not nippy. The park is surrounded by brownstones and there were people milling through the park with their children and pets. It was one of those Perfectly Peaceful Moments that you live for – those moments that get you through the bad ones coming. Which for me, were just around the corner as I had to pack up my knitting and continue on to work. After a stressful time at work, I walked back to my hotel, dropped off my laptop bag and decided to check out the Garment district. I had a lovely dinner at a local coffeehouse and then strolled for over an hour through the surrounding neighborhoods. I played one of my favorite games that I like to call Peeping Tom. If someone was lax enough to leave their shades open, I would slow down my pace to get a glimpse of the inside. I love brownstones anyway, so this was a particularly fun version for me. Then, it started to lightly rain as I walked back to the hotel. It was a beautiful rain – the sort that doesn’t soak and you can get away with not using an umbrella. Two Perfectly Peaceful Moments in ONE day? Wow.

Piano – I have wanted a piano for years. I played through junior high and high school, but when I went away to college, I lapsed – I simply didn’t have access to a piano anymore and never felt comfortable playing in my mom’s house (to be explained further down). I always regretted letting piano fall by the wayside. In fact, I always feel pangs of sadness whenever I listen to Chopin because the Funeral Marche was the last piece I worked on and I didn’t get it finished. So, imagine my shock when a few weeks ago, when Leavenworth Grandma called and offered me a piano. Specifically, a baby grand. Let’s make that a Steinway. In fact – let’s kick it up a notch -- a 1916 Steinway baby grand. That belonged to my great-grandmother. Who was a concert pianist. After I recovered from the shock and verified she really meant it, I eagerly accepted her generous offer. Since she owns 2 baby grands, it wasn’t like I was taking her only piano. For the week between offer acceptance and actual delivery, I excitedly sorted and re-sorted my music into the order I wanted to play the pieces. When it was delivered, I was on cloud nine, but a little nervous. This piano comes with a lot of history – it’s the very same piano that Leavenworth Grandma and my mother both learned on. I am just now getting comfortable with it all. I can still hardly believe that after all these years I have a piano that is MINE, in MY house. I can now practice all my minor scales to my heart’s content without my mother complaining about how boring they sound or how macabre the Funeral Marche was (well, duh. That’s the point.). And yes, speaking of the Funeral Marche, I have started it up. And Mr. X didn’t even complain thus confirming once again I did indeed marry the right man.

New Computer – Our poor Gateway computer was limping along quite sadly. It tried so hard to keep up with us, but frankly its hard drive is smaller than my iPod. The relationship just wasn’t working out. So, we decided to mix things up in the Rancid Raves le Manse and we purchased the G5 iMAC – yes, an Apple. I haven’t used an Apple since BankStreet Writer bit the dust, so this was truly going to be an adventure for me. So far, it has been great except for one thing – Mr. X, in his online shopping excitement did some pre-mature selection and clicked the choice for the SPANISH wireless keyboard. As I tore open the packaging and saw the key marked “ayuda”, I knew I would be needing a little ayuda myself. Unfortunately, customer service at Apple is much like customer service everywhere – slow and most probably based in India. Anyway, we do have the new keyboard and everything is fine. The computer is a magnificent specimen of beautiful design and engineering. We are very happy with our purchase – it even has the added bonus of acting like a 2nd DVD player since we got the 20 inch screen. Christmas certainly came early this year.

Thanksgiving – I love Thanksgiving. Other than the hearty servings of fattening, bland food topped with heaps of familial guilt, it’s really a nice holiday. Consumerism hasn’t really found a way to tighten its grip on it, so there are no excessive gifts to buy or onerous amounts to decorations to content with. The day is really about being thankful, spending time with the family, watching some football, and relaxing. It can’t get much better than that. When I was young, Olathe Grandma would host the festivities. She has 6 siblings and is the oldest daughter so this role of hostess came naturally to her. However, our family is big now and her house can’t contain everyone anymore. For the past years, we have scattered. This year, we rented a hall and hosted everyone. All 50+ of us. It was great to see everyone in the same room, at the SAME time. I do see these people all year long, but not all together unless there is a wedding. It was so pleasant to look around and re-live childhood memories. As I looked around, I truly felt a moment of Thanksgiving Thankfulness. That is what it’s all about, after all.

December 1, 2004

Isn't it ironic?

When I have nothing to post, I have plenty o' time to post it. When I have things to post, I have no time to post it. I promise something halfway entertaining tomorrow.

November 18, 2004

Where are you?

I am in Big Al's Philadelphia lair this week. Since I am chained to computers for the week, I won't be posting. :-(

November 10, 2004

Have you ever peeled a pumpkin?

I have been cooking unusual things since I was 18. This began when my then-boyfriend (who was Pakistani) taught me how to cook. Before I had dated him, I knew nothing about cooking. My childhood as a latch-key kid meant surviving on mustard and cheese sandwiches which left little room for cooking things that didn’t involve Chef Boyardee concoctions. So while I can cook a spiffy goat curry and my pantry includes a few ingredients that probably don’t have an English name much less equivalent, I am pretty clueless in the area of preparing American cuisine. I have no clue how one would go about making a brisket or roast – although I could maybe figure out a tuna casserole now, thanks to Average Jane.

Last night, I made a South Indian dish native to the state of Kerala called “erisheri” which is basically a curried pumpkin. I have wanted to make it for some time now, so when I came across some small pumpkins in the grocery store, I decided now was the time. I couldn’t help but laugh at myself as I struggled to peel the pumpkin. It struck me as odd, but there was really no other efficient way to get the meat out. However, it was worth the effort. The dish was wonderfully satisfying and solid. It was also surprisingly healthy – the entire pot included only 2 tablespoons of oil (I never cook with ghee or coconut oil - I firmly believe it's worth the sacrifice of authenticity to keep my arteries happily gurgling away). Everything else thrown in consisted of completely fresh ingredients. For once, I am actually looking forward to my lunch of leftovers today.

Next up? I have a recipe for bitter gourd that looks mighty interesting. Yum.

November 4, 2004

Mind if I whine?

Thought you might.

I am in Jacksonville FL this week and Big Al has me chained to various workstations and servers. There isn't much to report unless you would like to hear about how it is 1:00 AM, I am in Hour 34 of our mission, I have a splitting headache and we still aren't complete. And it's only Wednesday.

I am in a haze of confusion and vaguely recall some sort of election.

Back to work. The servers beckon, tauntingly.

November 2, 2004

October 29, 2004

Will this be another all-nighter?

My guess is this election will run a tad late next Tuesday evening. I’m a bit excited, too as Big Al is sending me to Florida next week. I may very well be in the middle of the action. I am little sad I won’t get to see it all go down with Mr. X., though. In our house, politics are akin to a sports event.

So, I did cast my vote earlier this week and did throw it in Kerry’s path. I voted mostly Democratic down the board for three reasons. Right or wrong they may well be, but here they are:

Pro-Choice: I don’t necessarily think abortion is the way to go when given the choice. I’ve wrestled with this issue often over the years, but just recently realized I’m pro-choice at heart and I best go with it. I firmly believe it is a personal choice. If it is made illegal, it still will NOT GO AWAY and the disparity between classes will rear its ugly head. The rich will be able to go discreetly to a highly paid doctor and the poor will be stuck again risking their lives on someone’s kitchen table.

Gay Marriage: It infuriates me when straight people declare that gay marriage will threaten the holiness and integrity of the sacred institution called marriage. HUH? Judging from the epidemic of divorces already occurring, I say give the gays a chance. Surely, they couldn’t muck it up much worse than we straight people already have.

The World’s Perception of the US.: I first faced anti-American sentiment nearly 15 years ago when I become very involved in the Muslim community at my university. While Bush did not create this current hatred, he did give it a face. Now, I don’t imagine Kerry is a silver bullet (it would take a few more Presidencies for the US to become the Muslims World’s New Bestest Friend EVER). However, I do believe that if Kerry is elected, it will help to a send a more positive message of Americans. We are not all Islam-hating war-mongers. Some of us actually understand that Islam is a beautiful religion that has been sadly and absurdly corrupted by a group of wackos. Sigh.

Now to the local issues. The primary reason I vote is really for the local elections. Let’s face it, Kansas is heavily Republican and my vote won’t count since Bush will get all the electoral votes (Down with the Electors!! Up with the People!!). However, my family has always been very involved in the politics of my city and I have seen first-hand that you can at least make a difference on a local level. For this election, there were several local issues of concern to me:

Bi-State Tax: The stadiums reside in Jackson County, Missouri. I reside in Kansas. Why should I pay for their stadiums? My state doesn’t get the revenue. I am behind Jackson County residents on the list for tickets and I have to pay more for certain things because I am not a resident of said County. Yes, the rumor is that half the tax would go to the arts, but frankly, I haven’t seen proof that will actually happen and George Brett’s smiling mug on TV isn’t going to convince me otherwise. Ultimately, the residents of Jackson County reap the benefits from the stadiums. Let them pay for it.

Sunday Liquor Sales: I voted for this, not out of convenience, but rather practicality. Surrounding cities already have Sunday sales, why should my city lose the potential sales tax revenue to them? I’m quite proud that even my teetotaler Grandma and great-aunt agreed with my logic when presented to them. (Did it change their vote? Probably not. But at least they agreed - that’s HALF the battle)

Tax Continuance for City Parks: I believe having nicer parks makes my city a nicer place to live which makes for nicer property values.

In the end, did all this voting make a difference? Maybe. Maybe not. In the end, what matters is that we simply have a SAY.

October 27, 2004

Are you a Fashion Victim?

A few years back, my friend S and I were shopping for shoes. Usually, we would pick the reliable and plain choices. However, on this special occasion, we decided to live a little and we each purchased a pair of incredibly cute black boots with a 4 inch platform heel. These little numbers were gorgeous and we were positive they would ensure us a spot on some Best Dressed list somewhere – surely. However, my dreams of hitting it big were dashed the first time I wore them to work. I found myself desperately cuddling up to a banister firmly with both arms after I tripped at the top of a staircase.

That incident came back to me as I have been reading an interesting piece of non-fiction called Fashion Victim: Our Love-Hate Relationship with Dressing, Shopping, and the Cost of Style by Michelle Lee . It examines the fashion industry and the history of fashion. I can’t say that I am a follower of fashion, but rather a side-line observer. Yes, I would like to be stylish, but I usually fall short of making the grade (an old picture of me ensconced in a purple and red velour mini-skirt set complete with purple legwarmers is a stark reminder). I generally don’t feel comfortable in trendy clothes (even when I was still wearing single digit sizes), so I usually opt for much safer selections incorporating jeans and black loafers. The fact that I loathe shopping for clothes probably doesn’t help my fashion predicament. I don’t mind the owning of clothes, I just hate the whole process of buying them. Oddly enough, despite the fact that I am not that involved in what I wear, I do still care what Madonna and Gwyneth are sporting. It’s fun to pick through the celebrity rags and pass judgment on those with a far greater clothes budget and imagination than I have.

I used to read In Style, but quit because I felt dumpy after reading the darn thing and it gave me the urge to spend money (as if to rectify the dumpiness). It frustrates me that a beautiful sweater I bought a few years back is considered out of style, even though I still feel like a million bucks when I put it on. Therefore, I was eager to read the book and give myself a Fashion Pardon. I wasn’t disappointed. The hamster wheel of the fashion cycle has picked up to such a fast pace (the author calls it Speed Chic), that now I don’t feel so guilty not following the trends anymore (ponchos be damned!). Yes, I admit I AM knitting myself a shawl, but I really wanted to learn the techniques employed to create one. The one complaint about the book is that the chapter on sweatshops really, really distressed me and the author didn’t offer any solutions. I was shocked at how pervasive this problem is – it’s not just confined to the Kathy Lees and P. Diddys of the clothing world. I guess I had thought the production process involved more machinery but apparently the pliability of fabric doesn’t lend itself easily to much mechanization of the process. I wish the author would have at least given some tips on how a consumer can reduce her purchases of sweatshop-produced garments. Regardless, I am glad I read the book. It was very educational and hopefully will allow me to make more informed fashion choices in the future.

Last week, I bought another pair of black boots. This time, I bought a pair that is plain, with a 2 inch heel. I may not be strutting my stuff in them, but at least I won’t be breaking my neck in them. My budget (and Mr. X) will thank me next year when they are still wearable because of their unassuming design.

October 22, 2004

Do you hang to the left or to the right?

I’ve been taking yet more accounting classes. What gooey fun it is to learn all about the recent updates for consolidation of variable interest entities (formerly known as “special purpose entities” until Enron ruined it for the rest of us). One interesting thing: I was sitting at a table with 3 other people (as has been the case for the other 2 classes I took recently). I have noticed in all 3 classes that I am the ONLY one drinking the water. I drank 2 pitchers of water all by my lonesome while my neighbors quaffed soda left and right. Doesn’t anyone drink water anymore?

So – how about this presidential election? I’m not sure what to think – I was a die hard Bush supporter until about 2 weeks ago. Not because I necessarily like Bush, but rather because I think Kerry has as much conviction for ANYTHING as my 3 year nephew does for bath time. This election boils down to a “lesser of two evils” question. The quandary is that the lesser of two evils is STILL an evil. I watch Bill Mahr on HBO religiously and he usually has a good panel with a fair mix of elephants and donkeys. His show is pointedly to the left, but I love watching the show because I always come away entertained and enlightened by having considered issues in a different light. However, the Bill Mahr show highlights something that bothers me about most Kerry supporters. They concentrate on getting Bush OUT of office without offering any truly compelling reasons for getting Kerry IN office.. What has Kerry done? What does he stand for? Yes, I think we should not be in Iraq, but Kerry hasn’t said he would pull troops out. I could see him using up all 4 years of his presidency blaming Bush. On the other hand, I don’t think Bush is such a prince of a guy, either. Bush has done such a creppy job that my 84 year old great-aunt, the descendant of a long-line of staunch, hard-core Republicans, is going to vote for Kerry. Now, she is afraid that “she is going to die a Democrat”. GREAT – now Bush is instilling this kind of fear in little old ladies?

I am still a little shocked myself that I am undecided. Mr. X is a tree-hugging liberal and I have always defended Republicans. Maybe, Mr. X has finally gotten to me (although, he aptly reminded my vote for Kerry would be for naught because there is no way in hell that Kerry will get the Kansas electoral vote. Thanks honey!). Regardless, it is my duty as an American to vote and I need to decide quickly. Big Al is sending me out of town the week of the election, so I am going to throw my ballot tomorrow. May the lesser evil win.

October 19, 2004

Why the chainsaw?

Um, yeah. I realize this blog has gotten kind of well, rather rancid. Sorry about that. At least it’s keeping in the theme. Last week was an overwhelming one, actually. Cat went missing again (retrieved his kitty a$$ from the old neighborhood and carted him back to the new one), I went out of town, work is hectic, the cat went missing AGAIN (retrieved his kitty a$$ from the old neighborhood AGAIN and carted him back to the new one AGAIN). To add to all the fun-ness, I had to take some classes last week. Since I am a licensed CPA (even though lately the only books I touch are the fiction kind), I am required to get re-educated every year. Imagine that! Furthermore, thanks to Enron and Bunch, I am also required to take an ethics course every year. Because that will make things ohhhh so much better, right?. Anyway, enough excuses. Blogging shall commence.

One of the great things about Big Al is that he celebrates Columbus Day and allows his minions to partake, also. To that end, the Husband (hereafter name changed to Mr. X to protect the innocent) and I decided to go to Boston over Columbus Day weekend for a visit with our friends. Rushing through the airport, I noticed a display of banned items – things you can’t take on the airplane. Most of the items were common sense – leave your toxic liquids and knives at home, folks. However, I was taken aback to see a freakin’ chainsaw displayed. Is that truly necessary? Has this been a problem? Apparently, while I’ve had people express concern over my blunt-tipped bamboo knitting needles that are barely longer than a pencil, others have been attempting to sneak chainsaws on board. My goodness.

Thankfully, we had an uneventful flight to Manchester, NH (the official hometown of Adam Sandler, by the way). I love New Hampshire, my blood pressure decreases as we cross the state line - I feel so peaceful when I am there. Okay, maybe not serene enough to quit nagging Mr. X, but hey, we can’t ALL be winners. We weren’t specifically going for leaf-peeping, but by the sheer virtue of just being there you get plenty of leaf-peeping in. The foliage was just gorgeous – it wasn’t in full display yet. This was almost prettier with the bold reds, bright golds and yellows contrasting with the green.

Our gracious hosts, S and A offered to come to pick us up at the airport and we eagerly accepted when Mr. X and I realized that we both thought the OTHER was booking the rental car. The airport in Manchester didn’t have a single car available. Probably due to all those damn leaf-peepers. When we left the airport all was going well until a cop with his lights flashing came up behind us, pulled a truck over in front of us and then stayed parked in our driving lane. I am an idiot and would have just driven around the cop, but luckily the driver A, is much smarter than I am and diligently pulled his car over. You see, we had encountered what amounted to a law enforcement wet dream. The cop was pulling over TWO vehicles at the same time. Is that even legal?? Did he have TWO guns to clock us separately? I think A was robbed! We were shocked, to say the least. Hopefully, A will contest the ticket because we have doubts as to whether he was speeding anyway.

Other than being pulled over by a cop who didn’t look old enough to drink, much enforce the law, most of the weekend was significantly more relaxing. We went to Marblehead MA, which is an adorable sleepy seaside town that has managed to attract tourists while still retaining its charm and local flavor. In contrast, we drove through Salem which was in full buzz due to the Halloween season. I can’t say we were compelled to stick around there. We arrived in Marblehead, parked, and walked everywhere thereafter (the streets are narrow and winding – parking is a bear). It was so relaxing to stroll through the neighborhoods on foot – the entire town has a lazy, calm feeling to it. Even the shops didn’t appear to be overly aggressive in their pricing and we found some reasonable buys.

After Marblehead, we went back to the house and began what would turn out to be a Quentin Tarantino Festival. I really enjoyed Pulp Fiction, but hadn’t seen his other films. We ended up watching Reservoir Dogs and both of the Kill Bills – Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. I highly recommend watching both Kill Bills in rapid succession – what a great set of films! They were Tarantinto’s Valentine to Kung Fu. I can’t imagine what it must have felt like to sit in the theatre after the Vol. 1 with such an explosive ending and realize you have to WAIT for Vol. 2. Luckily, our hosts S and A have a monster TV, so I don’t think I missed much from not having seen it in the theatre. Plus, you can’t make snarky comments in the theatre, which was half the fun.

The weekend was nicely rounded out with good meals – we sampled Indian, Tibetan, and some local offerings in the form of steamers and lobster rolls.

I was ready to come home, but I wasn’t exactly ready to leave, either. I always feel torn like that when I leave there.

October 5, 2004

Now, how about that fish?

I actually got my big bootie out of bed today at 5am to go to the gym. It was great! Earlier this year, I was consistently going to the gym 3-4 times a week. When I started traveling for work, that routine rapidly fell by the wayside. Now that I am not traveling and have settled into the new digs, I am looking forward to getting back into my workout routine. After an inspiring workout, I drove back through my old neighborhood – it’s the quickest way and has fewer traffic lights to boot. I decided to quickly park near my old house and see if I could find H. After 3 short shouts, I heard the little jingle of his bell!! What broke my heart was the rapid meowing he offered in return – he’s not normally such a vocal cat. While he was delighted to see me, he was NOT pleased about the ride home. However, when we pulled into the driveway, he happily scampered into the garage and the house. He quickly ate a snack, hung around for more petting, and then went about inspecting the house. However, before I left for work, he was eagerly waiting to be let outside again. Sigh.

When we went to Animal Control last week to search for him, we received a stern warning that we were NOT to let our cats outside to roam – there is a leash law. Sigh (again). I realize letting our cat outside is not an optimal situation, but we can’t let him stay inside 100% of the time. He came to us as an “outside” cat and goes stir-crazy if left inside for more than a day. We have him fixed and he gets all of his shots on a timely basis. Judging from the number of neighborhood cats visiting US, we are not the only ones letting our cat out. For the time being, I will keep him confined to the basement, garage, or rest of the house, but this is not a long-term solution. I just hope he doesn’t provide anymore blogging material.

Unfortunately, there will be no miraculous recovery of the fish. This isn’t an episode of Buffy, after all.

October 4, 2004

Am I a bad Pet Mommy?

I have managed to lose 2 pets in one week. My dear beta fish N. bought a one-way ticket to the big Fish Fry in the Sky last week. I went to his fish tank and tapped twice. Usually, he immediately swims to the top in eager anticipation for his shrimp flakes. But, Sob! He sat at the bottom with his fish eyes wide open – accusingly. As if it was my fault. But of course, it MUST have been my fault. I just haven’t figured out how. What really, really sucks about having a fish die, but not float to the top is HOW DO YOU GET IT OUT?? I never had a fish net, didn’t need it. So, I tried to pour out as much water as possible then dumped the whole mess into a trash bag. THEN, I did an artful, complicated jig to the tune of “I Am So Grossed Out”.

To add to the mass of guilt, my cat H. hasn’t been home for 5 days. Like clockwork, H. always shows up in the morning after a night of cruising the streets (granted, due to the fact he is fixed, his carousing is limited to looking, no touching). Anyway, the next morning he didn’t show up. I do wonder if the neighborhood cat chased him so far away that H. decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and hoofed it back to the old neighborhood. He is a self-reliant cat and only hung out with us because we petted him and provided a cozy bed in the spare bedroom. So, I have done the rounds of the neighborhoods (new and old) taping posters wherever there is a mailbox.

I guess I am surprised at how much I miss H – I mean, I knew I would miss him, but all along I had been telling myself that he would eventually disappear. I thought I had prepared myself emotionally for his eventual disappearance. He was a stray who showed up on our doorstep last year and we took him because he was such a sweet cat. We knew the chances of an older, male, black being adopted were nil. Although he was an incredibly friendly, easy-going cat, he was never a snuggly one and rarely sat on our laps. However, now when I look at his favorite chair and the bed in the spare bedroom, I can’t help but get teary-eyed.

I hate the “not knowing” part of H. being gone. At least I know where the fish is.

September 30, 2004

How lucky am I?

Well, this week has been crazy. Over the weekend, our handyman L. finished removing the SCALLOP SHELL circa 1989 wallpaper from our master bathroom. The same wallpaper the builders slapped up without sizing or even painting the walls first. Oh joy. Even though I was in Las Vegas over the weekend, I could hear poor L. cursing over the “ding ding clunk clunk” of the slot machines and impassioned cries of “come on shooter!”. However, he did a great job and it looks fabulous. The downside is, he didn't finish until Monday afternoon and left the room in shambles. It has taken me most of the week to get it all back in order. To make things extra, super fun, I am suspecting he splashed some water/wallpaper removal stuff into the wall outlet because it doesn't WORK now and neither does the other bathroom upstairs. I have tried to reset all the circuit breaker thingies and have reset every GFI in the house but to no avail. To add to all the gaiety, the previous owner labeled well over half the circuit breakers “lightings & outlets”. Gee, thanks Mr. Usually Anal Retentive. I guess I was getting spoiled. Sigh. So now I have to deal with an electrician, but if I am going to call an electrician, then I should just go ahead while he's there and have him put in all the new fixtures for the dining room, the hallway, and the downstairs bathroom. The fixtures that I haven't bought as of yet. Now, I am not complaining because 1) L. does a great job painting and is very inexpensive and 2) how lucky am I to get to choose new fixtures (which I think is fun to do). So, while I am not grumbling per se, I am a little pushed for time. It didn't help that the engine light on the car came on yesterday so I had to deal with that. Did I mention that the Husband has been conveniently gone the entire week?

Oh, and the answer to the subject line is “very”. I certainly haven’t lost sight of how fortunate I really am.

September 28, 2004

Knitting Continental or English? Knit picking from a nitpicker

I am crazy about knitting. For years, I had wanted to learn how and I finally took some classes earlier this year. I thought I would be so cool learning how to knit. Imagine my extreme disappointment when I realized everyone else was on the knitting bandwagon – story of my life, always the sheep and never, ever the trendsetter. Regardless, I was hooked from the start! (and yes, that would be a pun if I was crocheting. But I’m not. So there.) Anyway, I am now the Imelda Marcos of scarves. Yes, scarves are the knitting equivalent of kindergarten, but I was traveling a lot and they are easily stuffed into a suitcase. For the most part, knitting is very relaxing – interspersed with tense moments after mistakes are made. The sense of accomplishment when those mistakes are fixed is well worth the hassle (and at times, tears. Big ones. The kind that roll down your cheek). If I don’t knit for a few days, I start to crave it. My favorite sort of evening is to hang out with The Husband and knit while we watch TV (oh, how long I have come from college. But that’s another post. Entirely. ). Anyway, knitting has saved me from going loopy with boredom in airports (okay, now that’s a valid knitting pun for you) and it has significantly reduced my anxiety from many a canceled or delayed flight. As long as I am knitting, I am in a Zen-like zone and feel very peaceful – instead of counting breaths, I count stitches. It’s all good, yo (another knitting pun for you).

With all this serenity surrounding the Zen of knitting, imagine my surprise then when I discovered a major source of discord in knitting circles – knitting continental-style vs. English-style. When you knit English, you are “throwing” the yarn and when you knit continental you are “picking” the yarn. Most Americans knit English – in fact, it seems most of the world knits English. I even started out knitting English because I didn’t realize there was more than one method. I switched teams when I discovered a classmate knitting continental and noticed she finished the project WITHIN the class itself. The rest of us had to take the project home to finish because we ran out of time. I realized then that my classmate was onto something and vowed to learn how she did it. After some research, I found out how to knit continental and I never looked back.

What has amazed me the most is how passionate people can get about their preferred method – chicks with sticks can be dangerous (yeah, maybe they are blunt sticks made out of bamboo. But still.). When my classmate was knitting continental, the teacher (an older, Grandma Knitter) insisted she was doing it “wrong” and it was obvious the classmate was upset, in particular because as she put it “my mother taught me this way and it worked for HER” (I should note this line was delivered rather curtly). Ouch. I didn’t blame her though, the teacher was slightly irritating.

Overall, I don’t understand the cause for such emotion and argument. Knitting is supposed to be the equivalent of productive meditation. This, coincidently, is much easier to accomplish when knitting continental. English BAAAD. Continental GOOOOD. Ha!

September 25, 2004

Politicking or polikitty-ing?

For those of you that don’t own cats, it may come as a shock to learn that cats are very complex creatures. Indeed, they need infinitely more affection and attention than their stereotype indicates and their social order is better than many finely crafted governments. The current feline campaign being waged in my backyard makes the Bush/Kerry rumble appear to be as complicated as a game of Go Fish. You see, the previous owners of our house never had cats. It seems a neighborhood cat had already claimed our yard as “his” before I had the nerve to move in with my own little fur balls. Now, at all hours, we hear various screeching and growling as the neighborhood cat tries to exert his ownership on my amply taxed piece of grass. It’s disconcerting to go out on the deck and hear two cats growling at each other underneath my feet. It’s disturbing to see my burly black cat H. reduced to a whimpering mass of fuzz. It’s alarming that when I go out in the front yard to chase the neighborhood cat away, he runs into MY back yard to seek refuge from ME. I am not sure what to do, because H. is not an inside cat – he would tear the place apart if kept locked in. I just hope they all come to terms with each other soon. Sigh.

This has been a very blah week - Big Al has had a constant aura of suspicion and deceit. I am going to Vegas this weekend – surely the Land of Lady Luck will provide some sort of interesting post for next week.

September 20, 2004

Where is home anyway?

This weekend, I finally felt that I was closer to getting home. Yeah, yeah, le Manse du Chat is infinitely better than the old one – we now have better neighbors, a bigger house, a nicer yard. The list goes on. However, the new house isn’t quite HOME yet. It’s certainly getting there and this weekend was a breakthrough. I am in a Canasta group (codename: Clandestine Canasta. Shhh!! Don’t tell!). I hosted the group this past weekend and I believe there was something about having my friends spend time with me in the house that helped to “christen” it. Until then, it had mainly been the Husband and I fumbling our way through boxes just trying to get through our hectic days. Saturday night with the Canasta gals allowed me to really wind down and just BE in the house. It was nice and is giving me hope that I will start to feel comfortable again.

Boss Fired, Part Two: Yeah, my manager was officially let go. The whole thing was very weird and creepy. I probably shouldn’t say more for fear Big Al will track me down like the guilty blogger I am. We are on the 20th floor (the highest floor in the building) and have always been the Outcast Gang. Is it any coincidence that it feels more and more like Flowers in the Attic up here? Sigh.

September 17, 2004

Where is he?????

My manager has disappeared. His office light is on, his bag is there, and his Blackberry is in its cradle with his laptop in the docking station. We have heard neither hide nor hair of him since TUESDAY and Big Al is acting like my manager doesn’t exist anymore. No word regarding him – not one single word. Nada. Huh??? He can’t be fired, because his stuff is in his office. I know he is alive and not injured because he took some tools out of my garage (refer to previous post where I had just purchased his house – he is still storing some things there. Of course, I can’t call him because "they" took his cell phone and his home phone is still turned on at MY current home (the irony of THAT is not lost on me either)). In all their wisdom, the management here has successfully created an environment filled with gossip, innuendo, suspicion and paranoia. Thanks!

Friday Afternoon Update: Our AVP just held a meeting to let us know that our manager is gone. Gee, thanks! didn't notice. I guess that's why SHE is the AVP and I am just a peon.

September 16, 2004

Have you hugged your loved one today?

If not, grab your husband, wife, lover, pet, whatever - and give them a big hug. Rancid Raves declares today an "Appreciate Your Loved One" day. Too often, I float through my days dragging my tired a$$ to work for Big Al and worrying about meals, laundry, bills etc. I don't make the time to sit back and appreciate how lucky I truly am.

Today will be different. I can always be an ungrateful nag tomorrow.

September 15, 2004

How Amazing was that Yield last night?

I am glad not many people read this blog as I have a dirty little secret. I am rooting for Colin and Christie in the Amazing Race. I can’t help it! They have consistently run a strong race and I just fell in love with them during the caviar challenge – Colin was so supportive of Christie in that challenge. Yeah, lately Colin has been a complete jerk, but in the earlier episodes he was much better – I think the stress is getting to him. Anyway, how daring of a move was that of Chip to Yield C&C? Kiddies – can we all say cahones? (Sidebar: Does Chip even have a partner? What is the point of Kim other than fulfilling the 2 person requirement?) I also thought it was interesting that the Yielded team could watch the task being performed. Finally, I loved how Chip was wearing a CafĂ© Nostra t-shirt that Lance and Marshall must have given him. Cool. Very cool.

Okay, if the Models for God invoke the Lord’s name one more time, I may just turn atheist to spite them. God has more important things to do than monitor the Amazing Race. Furthermore, the constant exclamations and whining of “Babe!” and “Baby!” are more irritating than a bikini wax. Get over yourselves already.

The Bowling Moms are cracking me up – how neat is that they are still in the race and are legitimate contenders for the prize??!! Of all the teams still in this thing, they deserve a prize for the team that has grown the most. I would have pegged them being eliminated a long time ago. That was a good one when they finished the car decoration challenge first because as they phrased it “We are mothers of three and we put stuff together all the time”. Rock on!

One last thought – 3 of the 4 remaining contenders came in last but lucked out because it happened to be a non-elimination round. Chip and Kim are the only ones who haven’t come in last.

September 14, 2004

Where is my underwear?

Last week, I had mentioned that my marriage had survived MOVING. It was our first move as a married couple and it was just as interesting as I thought it would be. It all started when earlier this year, my manager flippantly asked if I would like to buy his house. To his surprise, I said I would discuss it with the Husband. After viewing the house and considering the big savings in price due to the lack of realtor fees we decided to go for it. The past few months have been an exercise in getting reacquainted with all my junk and sadly, it has become quite clear that the Husband has been correct all along – the vast majority of our possessions are indeed mine. Also, I believe in keeping things. Oh, I don’t know – like my great-grandma’s china, 100 year old Japanese tchotchkes that were my great-great-grandma’s, my track medals from high school – meaningless items like that.

It certainly didn’t help that the Husband’s version of moving involves trash bags and a suitcase – everything not thrown away gets packed in a suitcase while the furniture is returned to the store it was rented from. In his defense, he was living in corporate apartments, but still….. I, on the other hand, pack items with neat labels indicating contents and preferred location. My husband didn’t understand why I was so picky. Couldn’t comprehend why I was baffled by OPEN shampoo bottles up-ended into boxes. Couldn’t appreciate why I was peeved with clothes stuffed randomly in boxes, suitcases, laundry baskets.

Moving to a new house elicits so many conflicting emotions – most people assume they will lead a happier, brighter life if only they could get a new house. Logically, I knew this wouldn’t happen and I did try to resist the temptation in thinking the new house would solve all my problems (New house! Skinnier me! Husband finally mows lawn, picks up socks, washes dishes!). Our new house is much nicer and the neighborhood is much better. Despite this improvement in our circumstances, I still mourn the old house. It was my home, after all and I will miss certain aspects of it.

However, overall everything went fine. Well, I guess we ARE missing a leg to our bed and spent several nights in the spare bedroom before figuring a stack of books would suffice in the meantime. But it went fine. Really. It did. Okay, yeah, I guess the flooding from the ice machine water line that the mover attached was a bit of a nuisance, but who am I grouse? Non-warped wood floors are way over-rated.

Needless to say, the moving process was a little taxing. But hey, we’re still married.

September 13, 2004

What if it is?

Warning: Mild spoilers to the Six Feet Under season finale are forthcoming.
One of the most moving exchanges in TV happened last night on the finale of Six Feet Under. It was during a conversation between David and his father’s ghost concerning David’s difficulty in moving on after his traumatic carjacking.
Nate Sr: You’re missing the point. You hang onto your pain like it means something. Like it’s worth something. Let me tell you something. It’s not worth $hit. Let it go. Infinite possibilities and all he can do is whine. You can do anything you lucky ba$tard – you’re alive. What’s a little pain compared to that?
David: It can’t be so simple.
Nate Sr.: What if it is?

That exchange hit me like a thunderbolt – I rewound and watched it twice more. As a continuation to my post on why the 20s were so hard, Nate Sr. hit the proverbial nail. When I was 20, I did hang onto every painful event – hell, I nourished and fed them. No wonder I was so unhappy.

Anyway, the entire episode was stunning – the display and range of raw emotions was stellar. Outstanding TV at it’s best. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the confession from Lily’s brother-in-law. It’s nice that storyline is tied up neatly with a ribbon and Nate can move on, but it still seemed to be too convenient of a wrap-up. Regardless, it was a great episode.

September 10, 2004

Can NBC get back on top?

In short, probably not this season. While their lineup is solid, we all know that isn’t necessarily a good thing – After all, “Bobby is a solid boy” doesn’t exactly ring pleasant thoughts unless you need a cow milked. Even though the NBC regular lineup will include Joey, Will & Grace, The Apprentice, and ER, I still have my doubts. Last night’s showing consisted of the premieres for Joey, The Apprentice 2, and Medical Investigation. Here are my inane observations and please note, I have made a conscious effort to include no spoilers since the Apprentice repeats on Saturday:

Joey – First, Joey was always my least favorite of the Friends. With that said, I wholeheartedly admit I enjoyed this show – I think this gig has a chance of making it. Will it be a Frasier-ed level of survival? Not unless they add a few more compelling characters, keep the witty writing coming (it WAS pretty funny – I actually giggled out loud several times), and come up with some good storylines. Basically, this sitcom has potential and I was pleasantly shocked to see that. When I first heard of the Joey concept, my first reaction was to roll my eyes and declare it a flop. Of course, what do I know? This is the same network that canceled Boomtown (more grumbling on that later). Anyway, they did a great job casting the nephew – his deadpan delivery makes him a good foil for Joey. I was very disappointed in the Gina character; she was basically a watered-down version of the Soprano’s Adriana (who I am still wearing black for. Sob.). They just aren’t using Drea deMatteo to her fullest extent. The casting of the agent was genius – let’s hope she’s a regular (unlike the hilarious one from Friends who we rarely got to enjoy). I’ll be recording this one – for awhile at least. 3 out of 4 sheep.

Apprentice 2 - This premiere was basically what I expected. Introduce the apprentices (or is it apprenti?) show Donald’s hair flapping around, get a glimpse of Donald's latest sweetie from a Eastern European Bloc country with a flashy smile (and chest), then blind us with his apartment AGAIN, and then perform some cheesy task for one of the many corporations clamoring to get on the show now that it’s a hit. I loved it! I appreciate the fact they are working for a JOB, not just prize money (and yes, they will have to work. I read People and Bill Rancic is working his heiney off. He is! People said so.) The challenge was fun, too – how can you go wrong when kids with attitudes and regrettable haircuts are involved?? They did an excellent job casting the apprentices, as well. In this crowd, there are plenty of contenders for the top positions of Omarosa and Sam so I don’t think this season will disappoint. 4 out of 4 sheep

Medical Investigation – I SO wanted to love this show – at least for the fabulous Neal McDonough in retribution for NBCs ridiculous scheduling and ultimate cancellation of the incredible Boomtown (can you tell I am still seething?). I tried, really – I did. However, this medically themed knock-off of Without a Trace just didn’t do it for me (do these 2 shows have the same producers? The cinematography and special effects were very similar). Even with Kelli Williams and Anna Belknap (um, did you get the point of her character? I didn’t). Overall, the drama felt forced and well, dramatic. I just have a hard time believing there will be major outbreaks every week in the New York City area. I might watch this, only if I happen to be home and have a hankering for Neal’s baby blues. 2 out of 4 sheep

There you have it. My 2 Lincolns on last night’s NBC viewing.

September 9, 2004

Why were our 20s so hard?

Since I have hit my 30s, every now and then I encounter situations that smacks me upside the head with the realization that I am growing older and marching a sure-fire path to my Maker. I mean, I certainly don’t FEEL old – I have to think twice when someone asks me my age, since I still see myself as 25. A few months back, a co-worker actually thought I was 23 and expressed disbelief when I confessed otherwise (although I will admit the veracity of his mental state has yet to be verified). Nevertheless, the incident got me to thinking about how different my 30s have been so far from my 20s.

When I was in my angst-ridden 20s, a good friend of mine often countered with the question, “why are the 20s so hard?”. We had a few conversations regarding this after imbibing nature’s pleasures that only a college student’s budget and body could afford –Taco Bell, Bud Light, and Capri Ultra Lites. With us being in our 20s, we were so high and mighty quite secure in our knowledge that the world was out there waiting FOR US. We only needed to finish our pesky Master’s degrees that were keeping us from getting in the action.

Anyway, my friend first broached this question while I was in my mid-20s and I have never forgotten it. Although I am at the happiest, most secure place in my life ever, I can still never forget that period of constant questioning – “Why am I here on earth? What does the future hold? Who am I? What is the point? Good gravy, WHAT is in the ashtray?” In my 20s, I often let people run right over me and rarely questioned authority in the workplace. I dated stinker after stinker. I spent money like there was no tomorrow (oh wait. I still do that.) I look back and shudder now at my naivetĂ© and wishy-washy attitude.

I wonder if the 20s aren’t more difficult emotionally because we are gradually severing those ties that bind us with our families. I remember my first weekend trip out of town shortly after going to college – I purposely didn’t tell my parents just because I COULD. The sheer freedom was exhilarating as my Ford Tempo zoomed across the state. I didn’t even have to tell them about the speeding ticket I got in the process. However, while I was desperately trying to distance myself from my parents, I also still needed their guidance and it was hard to ask. If I didn’t like their opinion and didn’t follow up on it, then I risked not having their approval and that was HARD. Or maybe I am over-thinking the situation and the 20s are hard simply due to the lack of money. Let’s face it, money may not buy happiness, but it certainly makes things less painful. After all, I may have hidden the speeding ticket, but I had to scramble to pay for it.

So while I view my 20s with a slight wistfulness (I do miss nature’s pleasures, after all and I rue the day I realized the horrors of hydrogenated oils. Sigh.) I can’t say I hunger for that period in my life. I love not letting people run over me anymore. Besides, with my 30s having started off so well, it can only make me wonder how cool my 40s could be.

Tomorrow: An outdated review of the desperate attempt by NBC to take over CBS's Thursday night powerhouse lineup. Hold your suspense.

September 8, 2004

Why did it have to be so painful?

A tale of DISH Network woe:
--Friday 9/3 - we get DISH network with cool Hindi channels and such. Very cool.

--Saturday 9/4, Sunday 9/5 - we notice the TiVo does not get along with DISH . Not very cool

--Monday 9/6 - I call DISH to order their version of a DVR (DVR 522) and they say its fine, but we have to go through the retailer. Somewhat cool.

--Tuesday 9/7 - I call the retailer and they say that since the 72 hour period had passed we can't get the DVR 522. Definitely not cool considering they weren't even open on Monday.

-Wednesday 9/8 - After talking to the retailer again, I give up and call DISH to cancel the service. Guess what? We are getting our DVR 522 on Friday after which I will be able to record 2 channels simultaneously. COOL.

This works out well, since I am totally hooked on a Hindi soap opera now - I HAVE to know if Lavanya runs away with Sandy or decides to stick it out with Nikhil....... Sandy's a stinker and Nikhil is a hottie, so the choice seems obvious, but you never know.

Where is the “real” in reality?

Note: Rancid Raves upgraded its headquarters last week (explaining the severe dearth of posts). Later this week I will blog about the bonding experience the Husband v. 1.0 and I “shared”.

I wouldn’t consider myself a huge reality fan, but I do enjoy the contest-oriented ones such as Survivor, The Apprentice, and the Amazing Race. I just don’t get the point of the other ones like the Bachelor, Blow Out, Big Obnoxious Fiancee etc other than the camera crew hanging around desperately in anticipation of a humiliating incident (exception: Joe Millionaire the Original sucked me in like a toilet gone bad). I tried watching the Casino, but the situations were so clearly staged that I cut it from my TiVo in disgust.

When people ask “how can you watch that crep?” it’s hard to explain. Do I really think the shows are occurring exactly as it happens? Or, do I believe the producers stage some incidents and film the reactions? I would go with the latter – quite a few of the so-called reality genre would be better termed as “unscripted reactions”. What really attracts me to the shows I do watch are the challenges – it is so entertaining to watch the contests and the participants’ reactions to pressure.

Now, to the show I just adore this summer – The Amazing Race 5. There’s a reason why this show has won an Emmy – it is simply the classiest, most entertaining of it genre. I LOVE the editing this season - love, love, LOVE it. Earlier in the season when they were herding sheep, I cracked up at the shot of Charla pointing to one of the goats/sheeps and saying "THAT's the bad one", and then the camara focusing on a goat with a menacing look as the dramatic music cued on spot. If there is an Emmy for editing, this season's crew deserves one. They have managed to take a huge amount of scrambled footage and make a compelling season out of it.

Last night was one of the coolest episodes yet – it’s about time they went to New Zealand, the Land of the Philiminator and Extreme Sports! The sledging down the waterfall and rolling around in a human-sized gerbil ball was priceless! I can’t say I was sad to see the Twins go, but I wouldn’t have minded the Models for God getting the old heave ho. Praying to God to help them find the clue while they are knee deep in mud? Puh-leeze.

Despite my better judgment, I can’t help but root for Colin and Christie (they have raced a consistently strong race the entire season), but I would definitely prefer to see the Bowling Moms win. With only 4 teams left, the countdown begins………

August 26, 2004

When did I lose sight of the leaves for the forest?

This summer, I have been traveling extensively for work. Big Al has sent me to some cool spots like Dallas, Minneapolis, and Denver. He also banished me in some not-so-hip places that I won’t mention for fear of offending. Regardless, I have gotten to enjoy very few of these places because this project is very hectic and fast-paced. Often, we lug our weary souls back to the hotel and plop in bed after a hurried bite to eat late at night. There hasn’t been much time for fun.

Currently, I am in downtown Cleveland and the project has gone spectacularly – we are even done early and it’s only Thursday. For once, I have gotten back to my hotel in time not only for dinner and the Amazing Race on Tuesday, but also for leisurely activities. I decided this week to go wogging** around downtown Cleveland. My initial goal was exercise, but I quickly found myself exploring quite a distance away from my hotel. Downtown Cleveland is beautiful with a nice mix of old architecture, quaint churches, and new-fangled buildings. Tuesday, I went to the Brown’s stadium near the lake and then to the theater district – Cleveland’s fair attempt at mimicking Broadway. I went to the lake again last night in a different area and saw a surreal sight of sailboats, commercial ships, trains, and a lighthouse – all with the setting sun as a backdrop. Weaving my way through the Warehouse District with its massive brick warehouses, I couldn’t help but feel the history of an area that must have been a bustling commercial center in its heyday (I also couldn’t help reflecting on life before JIT inventorying methods – hey, I am an accountant after all). Anyway, now it is a trendy tourist spot replete with luxury condos, stylish stores, cool bars, and of course, the usual denizen, Starbucks – a must-have for any posh neighborhood.

As I trekked my way through the streets back to my hotel with the cool lake breeze wafting in, I couldn’t help but notice how I don’t take the time to do this in my own city or neighborhood. I work in a metropolitan city and live in a suburb so my usual commute includes a few interstate highways with a 2 block stroll at the end. I very rarely take the time to walk anywhere and just enjoy BEING. I have let myself get confined to the usual path of most adults and have forgotten the Big Picture. That worries me and I really have no one to blame but myself. I think after all this business traveling ends I am going to take more walks and explore my own city for once. After all, it’s the end of the summer and the leaves won’t be around for long.

**wogging = walk a block. jog a block

August 23, 2004

To TiVo or not to TiVo? How much is too much of a good thing?

I love TV. I wholeheartedly admit it. I relish nights cuddled on the couch with some knitting, my TiVo remote, and Pretty Boy Probst, Mocking Mahr of Malice, Gruesome Grissom & Co. flashing their pearly whites. I fancy puttering around the house to the lovely tunes of Jamie Oliver on the telly – it’s posh. Okay – so I adore TV. Then why I am a little sad to see all my favorite shows come back in a few weeks? Most likely because I have been reading, on average, a book a week all summer long. With the heartaches of business travel and flight delays come the pleasures of airport quality time spent with celebrity rags, books and knitting (Little Nicky Hilton in a cheap Vegas wedding?? Marc and JLo on the rocks?? Say it isn’t so!). Furthermore, sleepless nights in yet another crummy hotel mattress are best solved with a good novel.

Anyway, when I realized I was sad that TV was coming back, I had to face the fact that maybe I do have a problem with the TV. It’s TiVo’s fault. The downside of TiVo is what should be called TiVo Tension – the pressure you feel to watch all the shows it has so graciously recorded for you – it’s only polite, right? You see, most of my Season Passes are shows that I would “like” to watch, but they aren’t “must watches”. I record them just in case I am laid up some Sunday afternoon with nothing to do. The problem lies in the fact that once it shows up on your TiVo list, you really do feel that you must watch it. If you don’t, a little yellow dot rears its ugly head and then the TiVo Tension mounts even higher. Then starts the cycle of saving TiVo shows to watch later. They reproduce like bunnies after that. Before you know it, you are getting warning messages that you are running out of space for the shows that you DO watch religiously. I need some Zen meditation right now just thinking about. Well, this is coming to an end. This weekend I am packing to move to a new house. In the midst of packing comes the inevitable cleaning and throwing out of junk. I think I will take that same concept to the TiVo. New house, new start with the TiVo. This one book a week thing has been pretty cool and I’d like to see how long I can sustain it. At least until the first Survivor eats a creepy crawly.

August 10, 2004

In exactly which fashion era were low-heeled silver sandals coupled with tan pantyhose considered smart?

Oh, thank you, Ms. Reader of Louis L'Amour. Yesterday morning on my 6am flight to Dallas, I was worried as to how I going to stay awake. One glimpse of your shiny podiatric mistake solved everything. Lady, there’s no need to worry. Glinda the Good Witch's got nothin' on you.

So, anyway, I'm in Dallas drinking water that has an aftertaste similar to DIRT, wondering how I have managed to get another job that is slowly sucking the essence out of my social life faster than you can say "dementor" (okay, a slight exaggeration in the name of Blogging, but STILL ). I left the corporate world of McJobs and went to work for a quasi-governmental agency. I was hoping to snag a gig that would allow me to be home on Thursday evenings just in time for Pretty Boy Probst on Survivor. “Quasi” you ask? This would mean "an agency created by an act of Congress, but not actually the Government" (read: all the bennies of government work, just none of the job security). This agency disperses cash and messes with the interest rates periodically - you do the math. I call it working for Big Al, but let me tell you - this ain't no Happy Days.

Anyway, I have wanted to keep a blog myself for quite awhile now. Then as several of my friends started jumping on the blogging bandwagon, I realized I better grab the tailgate and hitch a ride. The appeal of staking my own space in the Blue Nowhere was irresistible since I have a lot of rants in my pants anyway. I can't promise entertainment or enlightenment, but hey, who cares. I'LL feel better and that's what counts, right?

Tomorrow: my thoughts on the Amazing Race. You will quickly realize the meaning of this blog’s title because my comments will be posted WAY after everyone else’s. That’s the story of my life --- Chapter 1: A Week Overdue.