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October 2004

A litany of complaints. Also, a Birthday Ode.

All righty kids, I am exceptionally tired today. So tired that I wore my glasses to work and have endured the inevitable and annoying "I didn't know you wore glasses!" conversations with each and every coworker. So tired that I am wearing jeans, even though I don't particularly care for this whole Casual Friday thing because I really do enjoy keeping Ann Taylor and her kinda-uptight-but-trying-really-hard-not-to-be businesslady retail fashion contemporaries in business. So tired that I could not be bothered to change the channel when Senator Biden began speed-yammering on the morning news, so tired that I forgot to eat breakfast and am now forced to curb my hunger pains with the tiny Halloween-sized candy bars that are overflowing out of the little plastic pumpkin sitting on a table five steps away from my desk. Must there be sugar in this office? EVERY SINGLE DAY?

But I am NOT too tired to compose a thoughtful and possibly sentimental Ode to my brother on this, his 24th birthday. Hi Alex!

First, a note about Alex, who was, for the majority of my childhood, the ABSOLUTE BANE OF MY EXISTENCE. And vice versa. I can say this because I will bet one gazillion dollars that Alex is in complete agreement. But now? Alex voluntarily visits my apartment and participates in such exhilarating events as movie watching and poker playing. He also recently PICKED UP THE PHONE and CALLED ME to ASK ME WHAT I THOUGHT about a singularly pathetic display of political skill. I think you should read that sentence again, the operative words being "ask me what I thought."

But once upon a time I was Queen of a most fabulous bedroom, built especially for me. ME. I had my own door, my own window, my own closet, and my own bookshelves mounted at the perfect height for someone seven or eight years of age. (It also had the most beautiful happy rainbow wallpaper in the WORLD, wallpaper my mother let me pick out ALL BY MYSELF, and I still haven't forgiven the obnoxious boy who years later moved into this bedroom and who said to me, with immense amounts of snide, "Oh, you're the one with the stupid wallpaper." Hate!) This bedroom, however, did not open into a hallway, but a PLAYROOM, a playroom built especially for all five of us. EVERYONE. This playroom contained more height-appropriate bookshelves, a gigantic table for arts and crafts (did I mention that my mother was once a first grade teacher?), a sleeper couch that lived out its last days in my first apartment after college, and a set of bunkbeds. Those bunkbeds were for the BOYS and I was in no way a part of the decision making process that declared it so. And in case you haven't figured it out, in order to get from my bedroom to the rest of the house, walking into Playroom Territory was necessary.

What was NOT necessary, for ANY REASON WHATSOEVER, was walking into MY BEDROOM. Ever! I was fully able to grasp this logic, but not Alex. Alex was ALWAYS going into my room. Why? WHY ALEX? And he would say, "Well, you walk into MY room all the TIME" and no matter how many times I patiently pointed out that going through his "room" was the only way to get anywhere else, he remained a stubborn and infuriating brat about the entire situation. And my parents? Were no help. This is what my parents had to say whenever I brought up any extremely legitimate grievance against Alex, the Thorn In My Eight-Year-Old Side: "Just ignore him." It was a mantra throughout my ENTIRE LIFE. Thanks a lot, Parents!

While he was at his most annoying in elementary school, it wasn't until junior high and high school that he got nasty. He refused- refused!- to do his chores after school, thereby risking the mighty wrath of our parents and reducing me to a quivering rage-filled psycho person who fought actual battles in her head over whether or not she would do those chores FOR him. So successful was Alex at avoiding chores and/or doing them so poorly that my mom gave up on him altogether and once asked me to "take Alex's uniform out of the dryer so it doesn't get wrinkled" while he was SITTING RIGHT THERE! I KNOW!

(Oh dear. I fear I have gone off on the kind of tangent where my mom sends me a polite little email saying something like, "Honey, please take that post off your website. And also? Get OVER IT already.")

So back to Alex- I was addressed as "Maggot" until, well, quite recently actually. He once put dog food in my cereal box. (Granted Cracklin' Oat Bran LOOKS a lot like dog food, but it is not the same.) He took great pleasure in short sheeting my bed. He attempted all kinds of embarrassing-to-a-sister activities while Important Boys were present. And the year my dad tried really hard to impress on me the necessity of checking one's oil- and I kept forgetting HOW to check the oil- my dear little brother went to an Actual Junkyard and gave to me, for Christmas, a nicely wrapped USED DIPSTICK.

But now? Alex is NICE to me. Really! Truly! It's MARVELOUS. And even though the last time he called to see what I was up to, it was because he was "broke and bored", I don't care! I am totally cool with having to bribe him with beer and a round of cards, just to get in some Quality Sibling Time. Somehow we have morphed into people who occasionally find the other interesting or knowledgeable on some subject or a good source of serious discussion. I know! WHAT IS GOING ON??? Sometimes our common ground involves making fun of the same people, and while I could find it seriously disturbing that Alex and I often agree on The Grand State Of Things, I'm just going to ignore it for the Greater Good of Getting Along With Your Still Obnoxious But Infinitely More Fun Brother.

So without further ado, a Birthday Ode:

O Alex, owner of the Spawn truck
and eater of all my Halloween cookies
(because you are too stubborn to admit
you are hungry and wouldn't mind
some leftovers for dinner)-
Happy Birthday! Now you are old,
almost graduated, and finally living
in a place where it is not possible
to catch a disease from the carpet.
Yay for you and your birthdayness
and if you are nostalgic for your
birthday parties of yore, I can TOTALLY
go get some pumpkins and scare
up a Superman costume for you.
Really. I am THAT kind of sister.
I can even recreate
the doughnut birthday cake.
I'm so glad you live nearby
and are available for bar trivia,
dinner, finishing the bag of
tortiall chips, and I really love seeing
the Spawn truck in your driveway
every day on my way home.
Happy Birthday!

(Do you like how I just totally broke up my sentences to just make it LOOK like I was being poetic?!?! Am incredibly clever!)

And now I will sit and eagerly wait for the email where Alex berates me for Not Having Enough To Do With My Time. Oooh, so excited!


I get to see the ocean every day

About a week before we left Xi'an, I tagged along to Blondie's Friday afternoon sophomore English class. As I was once (and sometimes still am) pretty interested in teaching English overseas, I was curious to see it in action. Blondie told me that everyone would be interested in the new Foreigner, but I thought I could kind of hide out in a back corner.

Unfortunately, there was no corner. The classroom was small and packed with three rows of two-seater desks that lined up all the way to the back wall. I asked one student if I could sit in the empty seat at her desk, but she shyly told me that her classmate was on her way. There wasn't an extra chair and Blondie was about to raid another classroom when one student appeared with a small stool and set it right next to her own desk. I sat down and realized, painfully, that I was in the middle of the room, blocking an aisle, and very much on display. The student next to me just smiled, patted my arm, and turned her attention to Blondie.

The student's English name, I learned later when we were practicing introductions during a "cocktail party", was Kitty and Kitty wanted to know everything and anything about America and American students. She introduced me to half the girls in class (English classes in Chinese universities are almost all made up of girls) and did not leave my side. Kitty was harder to understand than Audrey and Linda and some of the other girls, maybe because she didn't speak as loudly? I don't know. But she felt an awful lot like the good student assigned to be friends with the New Girl At School and did her best to make me feel welcome. After class she and Audrey invited Blondie and I to dinner. I'd told the girls about my freakishly tall Chinese-American husband and oh, that was incredibly intriguing and he was welcome too!

So commenced the evening of eating what shall ever after be known as Glorious Hot Pot. It was the nicest restaurant we went to in Xi'an, with waiters who brought you slices of watermelon while you waited for your table and waitresses who, seconds after seeing you lift your hair up and fan your neck because the POWER WENT OUT and the AIR CONDITIONING WAS OFF, brought you a ponytail holder!

On the drizzly dirty walk back to campus, Kitty worried about the fact that I wasn't using my umbrella. "Kitty," I patiently explained, "in my hometown [in China you are not "from" somewhere, you have a "hometown"] people call you a Big Fat Wuss if you walk around in weather like this with an umbrella." As this just confused her more ("Huh? Big Fat What?"), I opened my umbrella. When we got to campus, Kitty held my hand and made sure I didn't inadverdently step into a filthy puddle or slip off a sidewalk. She desperately wanted to show us her dorm room, but worried about how dirty it might be and how she lived in the "oldest dormitory in China", surely a shack compared to the luxurious American dormitories she'd heard about.

I regret not bringing my camera to that dormitory more than I regret not making it to the Great Wall. We had to get special permission for Phillip to enter- the students are shocked- shocked!- that there are co-ed American dorms, let alone co-ed FLOORS in American dorms!- and then climbed a flight of stairs to Kitty's floor. It turned out that all the girls in the English class lived on this floor. The students live together, go to the same classes, and graduate with the same major. They also live eight to a room, studying and sleeping on skinny bunkbeds with a curtains strung on wires for privacy. We admired Kitty's choice of fabric for her curtain, said hello to the girls hiding behind their curtains because they were wearing pajamas, and popped our heads into Linda's room across the hall. The hallway was filled with open umbrellas drying out and girls carrying their toiletry baskets back from the bathroom. It was a lot like the dorms I lived in, except the floor was cold concrete, the ceilings were too tall, the building was too dark and bare, and I had one roommate instead of seven.

I saw Kitty, Audrey, and Linda one last time before we left, when their class came to our apartment for "office hours" and we spent an hour talking about the differences between the United States and China. Kitty, particularly, was very concerned about my impression of China and if I was enjoying myself and whether I might come back. What kind of Chinese food did I like best? What was my favorite sight? Did the weather bother me too much? What other cities in China might I like to visit next time? I told Kitty that if she were ever able to visit America, I would love to have her stay with me. I expected her to play along, but she frowned and said, "Oh, I don't know if I'll ever get to see your hometown!"

Kitty wrote to me the other day about "your Hollowing Festival" and how Blondie is planning a party for her class. Kitty wanted to know how I plan to celebrate this great American festival. I spent half an hour writing about trick or treating, carving pumpkins, the costumes I wore when I was a kid, and how my brother's birthday was a few days before Halloween and he always had a Halloween-themed party. I even wrote about All Saint's Day and All Hallow's Eve and the muddled origin of the completely secular 'holiday' that now, apparently, offends Wiccans. I wanted to send Kitty a link to this site so she could get a glimpse of the Great Pumpkin Massacre, but you can't view Typepad sites in China. (In case you're wondering, you can access www.typepad.com, but typing in soandso.typepad.com always returned an error. If I ever wanted to see the published site, I had to remote desktop to our computer at home and look at it there.)

The first email Kitty sent to me was about a trip to the coast that she and Audrey took during their Mid-Autumn break. It was the first time she'd ever seen the ocean. She was jealous of me, she said, because I get to see the ocean every day.

It's cold in my office (I actually broke down and asked my grandmother for one of the laprobes she knits for people in retirement homes) and colder outside, but we've had a run of bright sunny days and no rain. From my desk I can see the narrow channel that connects Lake Union and Lake Washington to the actual Pacific Ocean. The Ballard Locks are a mile down the road and every day we see all kinds of boats and ships floating past on their way to the ocean. There are binoculars on the window sill so we can get an even better view.

I don't want to tell Kitty that, technically, Puget Sound is not the ocean. Because, well, I FEEL like I see the ocean every day.


Call me call me anytime

As a friend of mine so gracefully put it, I have "rejoined the rest of the world". Namely, I am now, once again, in possession of a cell phone.

Having devoted more time and treasure to AT&T Wireless than should ever be necessary, Phillip decided that once our contracts were up, we were switching to T-Mobile. Why T-Mobile? I don't know. I don't make those decisions. This is how much I care about my cell phone: Ummm, not so much. Anyway, good thing I only lost my cell phone a few weeks before our contracts were up. Otherwise I could have gone MONTHS and MONTHS without an immediate fuzzy connection to civilization. Horrors!

My new cell phone is tiny and snazzy and infinitely cooler than my last cell phone. I originally picked out the FREE phone, but Rebecca, Queen of What's What, gave me the kind of look she only gives me when I am not wearing the proper sort of shoes. Phillip was also unimpressed, even though it was FREE, and suggested this phone. Which is all right. It's not as blue as the free one. I like the blue. I am not, however, supposed to like the little attenna/handle thingie which was described to me as "way dorky".

So now I have a phone that's even easier to lose than my last one- a TRULY dorky free-with-the-$20-plan Nokia.

I appreciate my cell phone, I really do. Especially that time I lost power steering on the freeway and was able to immediately contact Phillip to inform him of my impending death.

But here are the things about cell phones that drive me Positively Batty:

!. Godawful rings. So your tiny little phone can blast that Rage song from the Matrix? Awesome! Please don't let it ring ANYWHERE NEAR ME. (Note: Unless it is my ringbecause the theme song to Beverly Hills 90210 does not count. Especially because hardly anyone calls my cell phone as they know that it's either 1) turned off 2) forgotten in the car where I can't hear it or 3) lost. (What they don't know is that I am SCREENING MY CALLS. Heh. Am an unbelievable snot.) Anyway, I should amend this to: godawful rings that ring ALL THE LIVELONG DAY. Must I be subjected multiple shrieks of Canon In D as played on the keyboard I owned at age 10? Nooooo.)
2. People who pull out their Wee and Adorable Phones and compare them over dinner. Dinner! These people are the worst kind of boring.
3. The 5 bazillion college students who experienced the 2001 Nisqually earthquake with me in the confines of the student union building and who did not instantly dive under the tables for shelter but instead booked for the exit and stood UNDERNEATH THE EAVES furiously dialing their mommies to let them know they were alive.
4. How the cell phone will "guess" what you are trying to type and attempts to "finish" the word for you. Does this ever work? For anyone? I HATE this "feature"!
5. People who think it's totally okay for THEM to Chat and Drive.
6. And finally, the transcript of an unbearably gross one-sided conversation that occurred last spring on a Seattle metro bus RIGHT NEXT TO ME. The synopsis: a man calls up his female friend to inquire about her health after delivering her baby a few days before AND to ask a plethora of intricate and disgusting questions AND to share a horrifying amount of details concerning his own wife's experience delivering his child. If only he'd paused for breath I could have broke into his unbelievably oblivious world, a world consisting only of him and the tinny voice in his cell phone, to shriek, "STOP! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, STOP TALKING!" I'd type out a little transcript, but I don't want to shock my mother. And when this man FINALLY got off the bus, the gang of ashen-faced women in my near vicinity let out their breath in one long whoosh. One old lady sighed and said, "Well, THAT was tacky!"

I would just really prefer if people did all their cell phoning privately. Except for me. Because I am ALWAYS the epitome of polite and a stringent follower of every law of propriety. Really. I belong in Jane Austenville where people communicate via desperately long and emotional letters sealed with wax and delivered by breathless maids. How is one supposed to have a proper case of the vapors upon hearing that one's silly sister has Run Away with That Man while one is half-naked inside a Banana Republic dressing room, holding a tiny phone up to one's ear, and trying to decide if one's butt looks huge or not?



The Great Pumpkin Massacre

It started out innocent enough.

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But then...

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[The internet needs to know that not only am I Oh So Photogenic, I am also wearing the oldest piece of clothing I own, my Model Senate t-shirt from my senior year of high school. Model Senate, at least when I was in school, was a yearly event in which over 100 students attending high school on American military bases traveled to a German resort hotel for three days of drinking, pot smoking, making out, and occasionally passing the odd bit of legislation. The big bill that year was whether Coke or Pepsi was to be the Official American Soft Drink. And by the way, all of this is funded by you, the American Taxpayer. I won't tell you where else I got to travel on your dime.]


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I carved two pumpkins in the time it took these girls to carve ONE. Of course, these girls also took actual ART classes in high school while I was gallivanting about my hotel resort, so it's possible their pumpkins turned out a bit better than mine.

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Katie REALLY REALLY WANTED the BIG KNIFE.

This is Phillip's contribution to the evening:
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pumpkin-sitting while I carved a second one. That second pumpkin I carved? It was HIS. Big lazy pumpkin-carving-spirit-killer.

And here they are:
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Mine are rotting already.

[Hey, what's that song about the five little pumpkins? Shoot! How does it go?!?! Rats. This is what you get when your mother is also a First Grade Teacher: a brain full of silly songs and rhymes that are only useful for amusing yourself on long car rides and so that your husband can look at you like you are CRAZY and say, "Uh, crazy person, WHAT are you singing about?" And you can say, "The five little pumpkins! Don't you know the five little pumpkins? Everyone knows about the five little pumpkins!" Even though you are VERY MUCH AWARE that only YOU and your crazy first grade teacher mother and the other two girls who grew up with you know about the five little pumpkins. And, I suppose, a few former first graders scattered around the country. Oh! Now I've thought of two whole other topics- Poignant Halloween Memories and How My Husband's Life Will Forever Be Incomplete Because He Does Not Know ONE SINGLE Nursery Rhyme. Hmmm.]

Anyway, if you walk by my apartment at night you will see my two little pumpkins glowering at you from their perch on the dining room table. It'd be creepy, except they are SUPER CUTE. They are decidedly less "BOO!" and much more "I am FULL of candy!"


Monday Night Football

I was hoping to have pictures posted from the Great Pumpkin Massacre that ocurred at my home Sunday night, but we'll have to wait on that. Bigger things took precedence. Like going out for garlic mashed potatoes and an empty Monday evening showing of Friday Night Lights, plus a scheduled phone date with Blondie. Blondie! We miss you! Oh, and work, which, unfortunately, preempts everything else during the daylight hours. I don't think they'd be too happy if they caught me secretly uploading photos of gruesome pumpkin carnage.

The garlic mashed potatoes? Not bad. But I was practically peeing my pants in anticipation of this movie and I'm sure Phillip was only too happy to take me out last night and get The Movie out of my system. Long long ago my dad was reading a book called Friday Night Lights and even though he warned me that it was about football- worse, high school football in TEXAS- I read it anyway. I had never read a book that creeped me out in such a wonderfully fascinating way. I still can't quite get over how far backwards the Permian High cheerleaders bend for their respective football players. The move leaves out a lot of the book's social commentary, there's only one worshipful cheerleader scene, and there's not nearly enough said about Brian Chavez, the football player who goes on to Harvard. But focusing on the football field is probably what makes the movie work. I'm a sucker for sports movies- I will watch anything about a Team That Beats The Odds (hello Cool Runnings!)- especially if most of the actual sports footage is helpfully snipped out in the editing room. Friday Night Lights is nothing if not a violent bone-crushing homage to the Young American Male and I told Phillip afterwards that any boys we may have will not be allowed anywhere near a football field. Or Texas. (Our boys are liable to be chubby band nerds whose skills lie primarily in mastering video game controllers and memorizing a decade's worth of TV show scripts... ah, that's another story.) But the director, one Peter Berg, puts all the points he may want to make on the Astrodome field where it won't annoy us or bore us or get us thinking about anything other than fearing for the quarterback's life during the championship game. The actors are wonderful, especially Billy Bob Thornton who ordinarily makes my skin crawl and my eyes bleed. And did I mention Tim McGraw is in this movie? TIM MCGRAW IS IN THIS MOVIE. They ugly him up, but look what it did for Charlize Theron.

And there ends the only movie review I've ever written, a highly favorable review about a movie in which I am too emotionally invested because I Read The Book and because I BAWLED at the end and any movie that uses something other than True Love's Kiss to make me bawl is REALLY REALLY GOOD.

We topped the evening off with a phone call to Blondie that used up all her cell phone minutes and made me miss China entirely too much. If it weren't so far away- and gray and dirty and in a language I can't even sound out let alone speak- I would totally move into the apartment next door to Blondie and keep her company and eat hot pot at least once a week. Kitty, one of the girls who took us out for my first glorious hot pot experience, has emailed me a couple times, but she likes to use e-cards which have Chinese characters on them and my computer is really ornery when it comes to Chinese characters. My computer sees Chinese characters, puts one hand on its hip and the other hand does the homegirl snappy thing in front of my face and is all "Uh uh girlfriend, what makes you think I'm gonna translate for you? WhatEVER." I told Kitty to write me a PLAIN email because anything Chinese turns into gibberish by the time I see it. And then I told her to ask Blondie what "gibberish" means. And Blondie asked, "Why are you teaching Kitty these weird American words and making my job harder?"

But all of this is to say, you're just going to have to wait to see gory pumpkin innards splattered all over my dining room table. Also, photographic evidence of innocent-looking girls wielding giant gleaming recently-sharpened cutlery items.



New acquisitions

I know you are just DYING to know what envy-inducing items I brought home with me from my much anticipated Downtown Shopping Spree and I don't disappoint!

Oliviastemware

I have a love affair going with what Cost Plus calls "stemware" and what I call "pretty sparkly wine glasses!" I started drinking cosmopolitans solely because I needed a reason to use my gorgeous martini glasses. (Also, cosmopolitans are PINK and there is nothing more fabulous than a pink drink in a martini glass garnished with a lime wedge and, if the drinker dares, a shocking-pink feather boa.) Upon being informed that one should only drink an Alsatian Gewurztraminer in a traditional Alsacian glass, I carted home a box of 6 engraved green-stemmed glasses from quaint and tiny Ribeauville to my grungy Seattle apartment. Glass-collector that I am, I was once even asked if two of my champagne flutes could make themselves available for an appearance during a wedding toast. What an honor! How often I indulge my passion depends largely on how much disposable income I have in my wallet (so, you can guess, not often), but, as I previously mentioned, I was out to spend my entire paycheck. So out I went to Cost Plus, a store I frequented daily when I used to work down the street. (Among the many ways my new job is saving me money, its great distance from Cost Plus must be at the top of the list.)

A few years ago Phillip bought me a set of cute yet functional wine glasses for my birthday AND a way cool wire rack that he so gallantly screwed in beneath my kitchen cabinets. Then we got married and moved in together and he has since gone about systematically breaking all of my lovely glasses. Thanks a lot, Phillip! But you know what glass breakage means? I GET TO BUY NEW ONES!

I bought a set of the red wine glasses which I think are very very pretty, even if a bit too narrow at the top for my tastes. But they are heavier and thicker and probably not as prone to shattering when Someone knocks them over in the sink. I was considering a wider more balloon-like glass at Pier 1 the other day, but, when I asked her opinion, my grandmother told me that it "looks like something [she'd] put ice cream in." Can't have THAT. It's embarrassing how easily swayed I am.

I also bought...

A rug. The Cost Plus website doesn't even have a picture of it, that's how boring this rug is. It is two feet by three feet and blue and it replaces the exact same rug I ruined last year by putting it in the dryer. There were blue fuzzies EVERYWHERE.

And that? Is IT. That is the full extent of my Downtown Shopping Spree purchases and not for lack of trying. We really tried to like some of those pointy shoes at Nordstrom and that red corduroy skirt at Ann Taylor, but they weren't working for us. Apparently there are only a million things to buy when you DON'T have money.


Me? Technically inept?

The best thing about my new job is that is comes with its very own IT Consultant. At my last job, in addition to my important duties as Chief Mind Reader and Vice President of Hand Holding, I fulfilled the role of IT Consultant and I may have loathed that part more than all the other parts combined. (And just so everyone knows, the job often sucked entire cartons of eggs, but my boss- and this is the most truthful disclaimer you will ever read- was the awesomest. He may have been a bit technologically-challenged and occasionally lacking in the communication department, but he now calls me up at my new job- which he helped me to acquire- just to share industry gossip and shoot the expletive-laced breeze with me. These phone calls quite frequently end with "You're always welcome to visit, dear" and that? Is priceless.)

At my last job, the entire IT department consisted of Me and whatever hapless peon happened to answer the phone when I made my frantic ohmygodthecomputerisdying call to that crappy excuse for computer 911, Microsoft Customer Support. Not a few of my card-carrying Geek friends snickered under their breaths when I would relate my tales of crashed hard drives and the Spyware That Would Not Die, but you know what? When you're the De Facto IT Consultant, you start to learn some stuff. You have to. There are only so many hours you can spend on hold with Steve, my official Microsoft support guy, before that side of your face starts to melt from the ear sweat. I know. It's disgusting. Also, there are only so many times Microsoft allows you to call before they start to CHARGE you for the pleasure of HOLDING with Steve. Who is a nice guy, really, but when Steve starts sending you to third party websites to find downloads that "might fix this, we'll find out!", you start to think, "Hey. I am a reasonably intelligent person for whom a computer is Something That Improves My Life, rather than That Damn Thing The Kids Bought. Perhaps there are things I can figure out for myself!"

This is how I discovered that place beloved of De Facto IT Consultants everywhere: Google Groups. Oh thank you, Nerds of the World, for posting all your nerdy goodness to Google Groups. Also, Instant Messenger. Thank you, Instant Messenger, for continuing to instantly connect me to a community of True Geeks willing to impart their wisdom and lead me to the Great Green Pastures of Happy and Spyware-Free Computers.

This is all to say: I know some stuff, but not too much. The distinguishing characteristic of any database I create is the pleasing color scheme, not the complex code. When faced, however, with an unruly application or grumpy computer, I may wait a few minutes before fumbling through my Rolodex to find the IT guy's card. But my new job? With the on-call IT consultant? And the already-well-entrenched De Facto IT Consultant? I will be happy to sit, with glazed-over eyes and a cheerfully blank mind, waiting for someone ELSE to figure out why the stupid computer refuses to cooperate.

And in other fantastic work-related news (and I know, I know, I'm not writing about work ever again!) I GOT PAID. I got paid actual money. Which I will deposit at the bank on my way home. Ninety percent of which I plan to spend tomorrow during my Afternoon Of Shopping Downtown. Oh, I miss you Downtown!

Suggestions for how to spend my newly acquired dollars can be sent to mighty_maggie@hotmail.com


Really running out of things to write about

Sometimes, when I've run out of other things to be paranoid about, I think about how much time I spend with a computer each day and freak out just a tiny bit. My computer at work, my computer at home, the laptop I keep under my pillow for those miserable nights when I can't sleep and it's totally because I'm worried about Britney and I have to go online and find out if she's publicly humiliated herself yet again... I spend eight hours a day zoned out in front of a computer monitor redesigning database tables, beating the forms into shape, and checking my email every five minutes. And what's the first thing I do when I finally get home and unlock my front door? Check my email. Even before I go to the bathroom. Because, you know, what if I have NEW MAIL?!?!?!

Phillip likes to act all superior and make snotty comments about my minor obsession, but this is the man who also spends eight hours a day with tables and forms, then comes home and heads straight for his computer. Not to check his email, mind you, but to do more work! Work! And whatever, Mr. I-Know-What-SQL-Stands-For, installing your new hard drive totally counts as work and you crossed the border to Pocket Protectorville long long ago.

No, if the computer were only good for work, I would be worshiping another electronic device altogher: TV and his partner-in-wasting-all-my-time, Precious TiVo. But the computer... oh, have I mentioned email? I mean, you can hammer out a little message! And send it instantly! Like! That! And you don't have to talk to anyone. I love you, Email Inventer, just for making it a little easier for all of us desperately-shy misanthropically-inclined humans to stay holed up in our respective cozy apartments because, oh, do I abhor the Phone. About four weeks ago I left my cell phone in an Ann Taylor dressing room (I think!) and do I miss it? No! Well, maybe a little when I think a big bus is going to ram into me on the way home. But unless you are my parents or the girl who lives all the freak out in Hawaii or the other girls who live 5 minutes away but have, like, Major Boy and/or Roommate Issues to discuss with your Older and Incredibly Wiser sister, chances are I am not picking up the phone. Unless you are the lottery people. Or you made me fudge and want to drop it by. Or a friend inviting me over to drink Copious Amounts Of Wine. Or you are the UPS man calling to tell me that there are, for some BIZARRE reason, a million J. Crew boxes addressed to ME filling up his warehouse and will I be home tomorrow when he delivers them? Because I would totally love to get a phone call like that.

Ah, but I digress! The time I spend with computers! It is frightening!

Which is why, tonight, while Phillip is perpetuating Geekdom by attending a Visual Basic.net class, I plan to read a Book. It is called How To Start A Career In Freelancing and it will, no doubt, tell me to spend even more time in front of the computer. Half of which I will waste by checking my email every five minutes. Make me happy!


No more I love yous

The concert? It was fab. And I have flogged myself in the presence of the Gods of Rock for ever daring to turn up my nose at Annie Lennox, O Powerful Belter of Crazy Fun Songs, who made Sting look like a tired (and sleazy) old man.

But the traffic? We sat on Highway 18 for so long I seriously considered getting out and walking. What should have been about an hour drive turned into three. It was dark and rainy and messy and my chauffeur lost his control over proper language more than a few times. And the last 5 miles to the venue? A TWO-LANE COUNTRY ROAD. I'm not particularly impressed with whoever thought it would be an okay idea to plant a gigantic outdoor concert venue, one that has attracted some pretty big names during its two-year existence, in the middle of Absolutely Nowhere WITHOUT bothering to deal with the consequential transportation nightmare. But I wouldn't recommend becoming a Citizen of Greater Seattle if you aren't prepared to deal with transportation nightmares.

It's going to be a slow day for me. I have a meeting in a half hour, one that involves Various Representatives Of The Industry and requires me to physically get back in my car and drive to the meeting room at a snazzy hotel (hey look at me! I'm a Grown Up!) and half my office is out today attending a conference. It might be a good day to catch up on things, by which I mean, catching up on all those recaps I haven't read on Television Without Pity.



Blades of singing grass

Had Phillip been born a few years earlier, had he been born English, if the laws were a little different, and if he had more of a tolerance for ridiculous nicknames, this is the person he surely would have married:

Sting

Yes, Sting, he of the Cooler-Than-Thou chiseled broodiness. Before I really knew Phillip, he was just "the guy who really likes Sting," and then, as I learned a bit more about him, he became "the guy who has a big fat crush on Sting." One night while we were hanging out in his dorm room, Phillip showed me the sacred cardboard box where he kept all his Sting and Police cds and paraphernalia, imports and boxed sets included. I have heard eighteen different versions of 'Roxanne', can sing along in French to 'La Belle Dame san Regrets', learned how to count 7/4 time by listening to 'I Was Brought To My Senses', and am in full agreement that while 'Fields of Gold' was admittedly popular amongst the unwashed masses, it's artistically lazy and a bit boring compared to some lesser known items in Sting's vast repertoire of Great Musical Masterpieces.

Phillip had, in my opinion at the time, somewhat bizarre musical tastes. One of my first Phillip memories revolves around a Harry Connick Jr. taped performance that Phillip found at a thrift store. (Well, I don't think that's true, I think he may have picked it up somewhere else, but I totally can't ask him because then he'd want to know why I want to know and then he'd find out that I'm writing about how he's carried a torch for Sting and then he would positively kill me.) So anyway, I'm sitting in his room and we're watching Harry dance around and Phillip is giving me a fascinating lecture on the technicalities of big band music and Harry's particular talents- how could I not fall in love with this guy?

But his affinity for Harry (and Bela Fleck and Bruce Hornsby and Boyfriend Runner Up Joshua Redman) in no way compares to his enduring love for all things Sting. Which is why, awesome wife that I am, I purchased a pair of tickets to Sting's concert tomorrow night for his anniversary gift. (The first anniversary is paper and I bought tickets. Which are printed on paper. I am awesome AND clever!)

So tomorrow we will brave the horrific Friday afternoon traffic and get ourselves down to the White River Amphitheatre for the Sting/Annie Lennox Sacred Love tour. We have "lawn" tickets for a rain or shine venue which means "hope the wet grass doesn't completely soak through your jeans AND your underwear." It IS October, after all, so what was I thinking buying tickets to an outdoor concert in October? Oh, I know. I was thinking, "Phillip is going to LOVE me!"

Our friend Sarah called last night and told us her parents are going to the Sting concert and isn't that funny and we said "Ha ha, that IS funny!" but deep down we were thinking, "Holy crap are we now Adult Contemporaries?" What's next? Michael Bolton? (Who is, like, SUPER POPULAR in China, by the way.)

Anyway, let's all pray for nice weather and not too much Annie Lennox. She frightens me. Doesn't this woman freak you out a little bit?

Alennox

Any tips for surviving an outdoor concert in the fall can be sent to mightymaggie@hotmail.com. Any mail complaining about my insufficient and less-than-enthusiastic praise of Sting will be forwarded, unread, to Phillip.