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January 2006

Seasonal Affective Disorder weekly deathwatch

Because of the five-minute sun break we are currently experiencing, I will let you all know that I will not slit my wrists today. Suicidal thoughts shall be reconsidered tomorrow.

And maybe I won't have to resort to suicide as the weather itself nearly killed me yesterday as I was driving home from my grandma's house. It was three-thirty, dark as nighttime and I felt as though I was racing against the Great Flood. I had 45 minutes to get home and build my ark. If my sister hadn't been sitting in the front seat leading breathing exercises, I'm certain I would have ended up upside down in a ditch, a muddy watery grave for me.

As I was researching some cross-country flights for Phillip today (oh yes, there shall be traveling in the near future, stay tuned), I saw that Southwest is having an excellent sale for flights to southern California. I am not blond, I do not know how to swim, I have pasty white skin even in the summer and would commit all kinds of obscenity crimes were I to play volleyball in a swimsuit, but dear GOD I am dying to go. If only to sit on a piece of dry land and stare all day at a clear sky.

I am BLUE.

I am also BUSY. I have a whole lotta work happening in the next few days, most of it resulting from the fact that I am physically incapable of uttering the word "no". I supposed I could have said, "You have GOT to be kidding" to the same effect, but I'm a Nice Girl and easily manipulated. It is my own fault. Alas. Alack.

But I'm going to focus on the potential cheer-up opportunities on the horizon. Blondie will be visiting me (ME! ME ME ME!) this weekend (WHEE!) and I will also be whipping up a pan of eggplant parmesan and some kind of dessert for the church dinner I've been looking forward to for months. (Major bonus points awarded to Blondie for visiting Super Bowl weekend, thereby saving me from flitting around my house in an apron and rollers serving cupcakes and beer to the men screaming at my television set.) Oh, and there's that traveling I mentioned, but I'll have to save that post for a day when I need to think about something other than jumping off a bridge. One must be strategic with her cheer-up opportunities.

Yes, here come the clouds. WOE.


La la la is it Friday yet?

In the interest of wiping yesterday's dreck off the page, I present you with a bleg: I need to come up with a "topic" for my "final project". In other words, what should my made up website be about? Because it will be hosted on a public school server, it can't be a website for any particular religion or political position (can you just imagine?!) or a business that actually exists. The sample websites my teacher gave us were portfolios for a potential web design business, an imaginary coffee house, a massage therapy business and, I am not making this up, a taxidermy business complete with photos and how to package your dead animal for shipping to the taxidermist. Barf.

The ideas, they are not spilling forth. Help?

In other news, my ultra-cool super-cute neighbors with the terribly-high earning potential are coming over for dessert tonight. Well, first they were coming over for dessert and coffee, but they politely let us know that they don't drink coffee and would bring, perhaps some hot chocolate or chai tea to share. So then I made Phillip email them back and say, "Hey, we don't drink coffee either, but my wife is a lush" and they seemed to be up for helping me polish off my liter size bottle of Yellow Tail shiraz. And this is good, because I need more people in my life who will help me finish bottles of wine, but also nervewracking, because I will be serving a cake made with Kahlua, and what if they are those weird people who don't drink coffee because they don't like the taste? ! (As opposed to perfectly normal people like me, who think coffee should be one of the four major food groups, but don't drink it because it gives them stomach aches and possibly keeps them up at night, although they suspect this is psychological and the fault of the 487 people who told them that coffee would make anxiety worse. HATE THOSE PEOPLE.)

In short, I'm nervous.

I am HORRIBLE with new people. And these people are hardly new, as I've been looking into their kitchen since last May. I've even been to their house for dessert. I think it's the fact that they own the same exact house and the first thing they will think to themselves is, "Why don't they have anything on the walls? Why did they put THAT there? Have they vacuumed since they moved in?" Because that kind of thing embarrasses me. Because they have gorgeous stuff and didn't freak out when they painted their bathroom red and work at important grown up jobs and redid their closet themselves. Because I am a dork. Ack.

I am very much ashamed of this "keeping up with the Joneses" attitude I have. I honestly never had these neuroses until we bought the house and I started comparing everything we did and had to all the other youngish couples buying similar townhouses, what they were doing with their yards and the kind of furniture they were moving into their living rooms. A friend of mine describes this as a "spirit of lack"; the awful part is that we are lacking nothing.

Who knows what will end up on this website when I have the real live interior designer over for dinner in a few weeks. Hysteria will ensue.

I'm having a hard time trying not to care about whether these people think I'm awesome or not, mainly because they could be very useful friends. Yeah, that's right. Let's just say I could really use a friend with my neighbor's particular skill set. She also makes awesome fudge. I really like fudge.

Oh! Here is an update on the fudge situation: I am three pounds away from not lying about my weight on my driver's license. Now THAT is awesome. Especially because I'm pretty sure I lied about my weight when I GOT my driver's license. When I was 19. Where is my trophy?

Other minutiae includes:

  • My sister Katie has spent the last two days on my sofa watching every single show stored on my TiVo. I do not jest. This is what happens when you take a quarter off; college students, you have been warned.
  • It's getting lighter when I wake up and lighter when I leave work. This means I no longer want to hurl myself off the bridge. A whole post is brewing on this topic.
  • To get to Venice with our frequent flyer miles, we must first travel to San Francisco, then London, then the train to the other airport in London, and then Venice about 3 days later. SO NOT COOL.
  • I have the most adorable nephew ever.

Borntofly

He's starting to look like a little boy! Ack!



Tomorrow I'm going to write about sunshine and rainbows

I have a friend who thinks the internet is “creepy”.  The other day she said: "Have you heard of MySpace?! You can make this page! And have 'friends'! And people are, like, meeting each other! From their MySpace pages!" And I'm all, "Yes, welcome to the Internet."

I see her point. And, in all honesty, if the only stuff I saw online were MySpace pages, I might think the internet was a little creepy too. Instead I said, gently and with heaps of understanding, “But there’s a lot of really cool stuff too.”  I did not say, “LIKE MY BLOG” because this particular friend refers to this website as “that thing you have on the internet.” Baby steps, people, baby steps.

She looked at me like “WhatEVER” and changed the subject. I attempted to mention a few of my favorite websites, super talented bloggers and the amazing service that is Television Without Pity, but she wasn’t interested and, I have to say, I might have cried a little bit.

Because, you guys, I heart the internet. Sure, it’s got its creepy parts, but there is some crazy cool stuff out there and I get to experience it all with just a few little mouse clicks. THAT is awesome. And I don’t need to convince YOU, you blog-readers (who are surely super talented yourselves publishing your OWN blogs and why haven’t you told me about them? Hmm?)

Possibly my favorite thing about the internet, and possibly why I am so interested in learning HTML lately, is that ANYONE can publish ANYTHING. Just think- before I started up my Typepad account, the world went without my weekly rants against the universe and sentimental emo crap and how, HOW, I ask, did the world manage? Granted, those MySpace pages (as well as this very website) aren’t going to be honored any great literary awards, but I really think this self-publishing thing is good. Like, good good. People are connecting with other people, most of them people they will never meet, and sharing information and stories and experiences and this is Bringing The World Together all shiny happy people-like. I LOVE IT. We are all holding hands via fiberoptics.

What pissed me off to absolutely no end was finding out I couldn’t view my Typepad site in

China

. I could manage it and upload new posts, but I couldn’t access my site. I couldn’t give the URL to Blondie, or to our students to give them another way to keep in touch with me, because they’d only get a little error message that said: “We’re sorry! The big fat meanies who run our glorious country have decided you shouldn’t be reading whatever this crazy foreigner is saying about us on her website! Too bad for you! Let us redirect you to a government-approved column about how disappointed Yao Ming is in his American teammates!”

So.  When I read this, it was upsetting.

"MSN is committed to ensuring that products and services comply with global and local laws, norms and industry practices. Most countries have laws and practices that require companies providing online services to make the Internet safe for local users. Occasionally, as in

China

, local laws and practices require consideration of unique elements," the representative said.

Questions still remain over why a site believed to be hosted in the

United States

has to comply with Chinese law. Microsoft responded to requests for more information on this issue by stating that "Microsoft is a multinational business and, as such, needs to manage the reality of operating in countries around the world."

But it’s no surprise, really. Everyone knows Microsoft wants it’s fingers in every available pie. And I wasn’t such a Microsoft fan to begin with. (Have you used Outlook?)

But now, Google, my beloved Google, maker of the how-in-the-world-did-I-search-before-you-existed Google Toolbar, is complying with

China

.

Until now, Google has held out from doing a deal in China, while rivals Yahoo! and Microsoft, owner of MSN Search, have shown a willingness to compromise with the authorities. Last year Yahoo! provided information that helped to jail a dissident for ten years, after he used a Yahoo! e-mail to relay the contents of a secret government order. In December, Microsoft closed down a political blogger’s site, arguing that he had failed to comply with local laws.

Apparently it’s because:

Google is simply the latest internet company to conclude that the world’s most populous country is too important a market to ignore. It has accepted local censorship requirements that have already been endorsed by both Yahoo! and Microsoft.

I'm not very good at writing about anything that is important to anyone other than me, which is why I'm sort of reluctant to go all ranty crazy person (Phillip told me yesterday that my blog has multiple personalities) on this article. I mean, obviously

China

is an important market and yes, some Google is better than no Google at all. I speak as a devout Google worshipper- seriously. I cannot function without my Google Toolbar.

But NO. No no no. NOT NECESSARY. I am STEAMED.  

HERE is Google’s philosophy, summed up in “Ten Things”. Let us note numbers six: You can make money without doing evil. Google then proceeds to tell us how they’re not going to bombard us with advertising and pop up ads and if that’s their definition of evil, they are seriously misguided.

Let us also note number eight: The need for information crosses all borders. Then they brag about how many languages Google speaks, but not cool Google, not cool. What does that eighth thing really mean? And if you don’t mean what it says, you need to change it. Maybe to something like: Even if you don’t speak English, our search engine will work for you, but only after we conform it to your government’s approval.

And this completely and totally misleading statement shows itself in number six’s description: Our users trust Google's objectivity and no short-term gain could ever justify breaching that trust.

Well. They must be kidding.

You know, Google could have stood up for something great here, but instead they decided the market share was too large to ignore. They could have told the Chinese government to stuff it, that searching for information on Tibet's or Taiwan's independence shouldn't be a crime. If they could stand next to Google, maybe other search engines and internet companies wouldn't be so eager to comply with this kind of censorship. Google is a GIANT; its executives are very wealthy. They could have done something very brave. But they didn't want to ignore the market share. They didn't want the Chinese population to miss out on the best search engine, even a watered down version.

I hate that. It makes me so angry. It makes me desperately thankful that I don't live in China. I am involved in a hell of a lot of things that could get me thrown in jail if I lived in China; my website is just a little piece of that self-expression. And this is why I don't get the people in my country who are flagellating themselves as I speak, bemoaning the soon and certain day when Dick Cheney starts reading all of their personal email. Perhaps I should be more worried about the doomsday that is nigh upon us, but I'm just not. I can't. I think they have succumbed to hysteria. I think they have no perspective. I think they are nuts. I know my government's no angel, but for goodness' sake, people. You talk to me again when Congress, fearing for our national security, blocks access to my personal all-fluff-no-substance website.


In which the point is lost and, by the end, I implicate myself

When I was driving to work this morning, some guy on the radio was interviewing a Seahawk fan. (Lest you have been living under a rock (and oh, how I envy you), the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl for the very first time in the history of stupid games that require helmets, and all that water you see on the roads, that's not a month's worth of rain, that's the result of the entire city collectively wetting its pants in delight.) So anyway, this Seahawk fan wasn't able to get tickets to the Super Bowl and, good people of the World, this was a TRAVESTY of the HIGHEST ORDER. This Seahawks fan was distraught, nay, unglued, at the fact that some of the people who did get tickets, those people are probably aren't even FANS. Most definitely they haven't been fans as long as he (27 years!) AND they were probably selling their tickets on EBAY! FOR SHAME! And he, a loyal longtime fan, will be forced to spend $10,000 to take himself and his wife to watch their beloved team lose the Super Bowl. (No, I did not add any extra zeroes onto that sum and yes, I know I typed "lose" and my brothers are now sending out the lynching squad.)

My response to this, as I'm sure you'll be surprised to note, was: "Oh, boo hoo."

Then I get to work and not five minutes after I sit down to catch up on my blog reading, I get a phone call from a distraught customer. I'm not sure I have described, exactly, who my customers are and I'm not about to start now (especially now that someone recently found my website by googling my maiden name and YES I know this is the most un-anonymous blog ever and YES I should have thought more about that, but holy crap what undesirable high school phantom is tracking me down and reading about my mental instabilities because OH MY GOD.) I will tell you that I have a rather special customer base, made up mostly of older blue collar men who have done this particular blue collar job their entire lives, who know nothing except this job and who lambaste you mercilessly when you don't know what that acronym stands for because, well shit, sweetheart, don't you work for a [industry] newspaper? Don't they teach you nuthin? And after berating my lack of industry knowledge, they then feel the need to share about their terminal illnesses, the miserable economical outlook for their industry, how long they've been doing this job and shouldn't they get a free subscription? And I'm all, for what? For having a crappy job?

Now. If they were sending me flowers and chocolates, things could be arranged.

So anyway, this guy calls me up and is simply outraged- OUTRAGED!- that he has to SIGN A PIECE OF PAPER. "I got my renewal papers right here and you're sayin' I have to SIGN THE PAPER. I've been subscribin' to your paper for forty some years and what now, I have to SIGN something? You know how that makes me feel? Why do I have to SIGN ANYTHING? I've been doing this for FORTY YEARS." Instead of screeching at him for accusing me of being the [industry] newspaper CIA, I put on my best Official Young Lady voice and quietly explained that that signature proves he is indeed a member of the [industry], which proves to our auditors that we are not lying about our readership to our advertisers. (Got that? I have to use a few more sentences when I explain it to my customers, natch.)

Oh, he said. Oh. Well then. He'll sign it. He's just never seen it before.

To which I say: Of course. It's MY fault you don't pay attention. WHATEVER. (only with more swear words.)

GOD. I am really- REALLY- tired of listening to people who think they are ENTITLED to EVERYTHING. I mean, I get it. I GET IT. I get that you are the loyalest most Seahawkingest fan in the entire universe, but the stadium only holds so many people. They can't give a ticket to every season ticket holder. They just can't. It's a lottery. It's as fair as it's going to get. And does it suck that some kid who's probably only been a fan, like, FIVE years is probably auctioning off his tickets for thousands of dollars on Ebay? When you, O Loyal Fan, would actually BE there and be ROOTING FOR THE TEAM and participating in that 12th man crap? YES. It sucks. But that doesn't mean you should call up your local country radio station and assassinate the characters of those horrible people selling YOUR tickets on Ebay, and it CERTAINLY doesn't mean you should couch your argument in boo-hoo-I'm-more-deserving-crap because mean people like me will blog about how you are a whiny, petulant, passive-aggressive crybaby.

And attention Customers O' Mine: GET OVER IT. I work for a business. We charge money. I am sorry your equipment ate four of your fingers; that does not authorize me to give you a free lifetime subscription or a free ad or your picture on the front page with the caption The World's Best [Industry]man Forever And Ever Amen. And I do not care how long you've been doing whatever you've been doing- you still have to follow the damn rules. GOD.

Maybe I am just a big fat utterly-bored-by-football meanie and only someone with a heart of stone would roll her eyes at the big dude wearing the Hasselbeck jersey and ruining his blue pancake makeup because he's crying over no more Super Bowl tickets. And I totally admit that my job has made me a cynic and if you tell me that you've only got four months left to live anyway, why don't I just comp the rest of your newspapers, I will totally think you are lying. And I know that makes me horrible.

And I am not immune to feeling entitled. I am actually thinking of all the stuff I do for which I deserve palaces and jewels and many many cabana boys, but I can't share any of them on the wide open Internet where former employers and Strange People From The Past are lurking. (This fear, it is irrational yet paralyzing!) I don't want to get into some big discussion about how we all think we're pretty decent human beings and shouldn't have to work hard or have anything bad happen to us. Which is fairly universal, don't you think? WHY ME. We've all said it.

No, today's rant is a bit more base than that. For instance, I shouldn't have to keep going into the friggin HTML because the stupid paragraph break is weirding out on me. I AM ENTITLED TO WYSIWYG THAT ACTUALLY WORKS, PLEASE!

BUT! You don't see me calling up a RADIO STATION to whine about it, DO YOU? You don't see me griping at some poor innocent girl who happened to get stuck answering your stupid phone call!

I AM ENTITLED TO NOT HAVE TO LISTEN TO YOU PEOPLE. NOW GO AWAY.

(And now Phillip is instant messaging me about "The Great Firewall of China" which is making me absolutely furious and I'm going to stop now before I start ranting about an entirely new topic.)

 


Weekend productivity

You guys, my brain is melting. No, seriously. Put down your palm fronds and help me off my positioned-right-in-front-of-the-television-chaise, for I have absorbed quite a bit more than the recommended level of Krazy Glowing Rays over the weekend. I need help.

First, there was 24. People, have you seen this show? I had not seen this show until two days ago. Me. A self-proclaimed lover of all things television, whose tastes in programming run from American Chopper to Good Eats to Veronica Mars to cable news to that wacko Japanese game show with the cruel dubbing. I HAD NOT SEEN THIS SHOW! Somehow, the world did not implode. Friday night I watched Season 1 Disc 1. Saturday night I watched Season 1 Disc 2. In a ROW. Let's ignore, for the moment, the fact that two grown people with their own incomes and own automobiles had nothing better to do on their Friday and Saturday nights- that's a LOT of television. And I believe, after both of those discs, I had to unwind with TiVo'd episodes of The Office and Everybody Hates Chris- that's even MORE television. (And you guys, don't you just adore Jim? I love Jim. Poor poor Pam, and I am just now realizing that I have added Jim AND Jack Bauer to my list of Men I Will Marry When I Am Allowed Into TV-Land and THIS IS A CRY FOR HELP, FRIENDS IN THE COMPUTER.)

But seriously- 24 is some good TV! And I hear that Jack's on Season 5 already. Do you know how many hours I need to sit through before I get to Season 5? Enough to make a Maggie-shaped dent in the couch, a'la Homer Simpson.

Then? This morning? I got up early and MAPPED MY DOMAIN. I sat down at my computer at eight in the morning and read all the fine print directions and mapped my own freaking domain. If I wasn't so terribly proud of myself, I'd be extra super duper worried about the state of my eyeballs.

Which are even WORSE, because I spent all afternoon doing my Pathetic Beginner web development homework. I can make tables! With background colors! I rock! I would, however, like to remind everyone (myself?) tht just because you learn a few tags and how to make tables does not- I repeat, does NOT- mean you should download Movable Type because you are, quote, "tired of messing with the stupid template and DUDE, I should just be able to DO IT MYSELF" because that's insanity talking. Doing such a thing means you have lost what is left of your internet rockstar mind. Before you go there, think to yourself: Do you, O Amateur, know where your Perl server is? DO YOU? I thought not. Push the mouse AWAY. But it's not much longer before I turn into that kid from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who got sucked into his TV. Or that kid in the Shel Silverstein poem. (And let's permit ourselves a small snicker at the fact that I lifted the text of that poem from a website called Turn Off Your TV. (AS IF.))

I should probably be concerned about my ever dwindling cool quotient, but it's hard to worry about turning into certified geek when you are also beginning to emanate a soft glow, much like a human monitor.

So happy Monday, kiddos. I'm going to enjoy my last few weekend hours with an actual book and I will call my grandma who is most likely the only other person I know who is not watching the Seahawks game right now. (My television taste isn't that bad.)


May

Somewhere in this world is a little girl named May. At least, that was her name when I met her. She’s at least two years old now, maybe three. When I first held her two summers ago in a Chinese orphanage, she was the only infant in the room without a cleft palate. Maybe that’s why I picked her up first- I had never seen cleft palates before and it was scary. I couldn’t even look at the little boy on the mat on the floor, his whole body twisted uncomfortably, his knees pointing left and his chin facing right. But May was smiling in her little chair and looking straight at me. One of the nurses motioned that it would be okay for me to pick her up, and she was so tiny and perfect. I wondered how anyone could have left her alone on a street or in the market with her name and birth date pinned to her clothes. The woman who brought us to the orphanage saw me holding her and smiled ruefully. “This is May,” she said, “our little crack baby. We didn’t think she was going to make it.”

I didn’t want to put her down, but the nurses needed to feed her and there were four squawking baby boys who wanted to be held too. I sat on the other side of the room holding four babies at once, thinking about how to trick the Chinese government into letting me take them home. It was charity, but it was also love. I would have taken any of those babies home with me without a second thought. Phillip, my rational, clear-thinking, responsible husband fell in love with two other babies, angry and suspicious little girls who resisted him until the very end. My little May was cheerful and all smiles, but Phillip wanted to keep Emily and Renee, the most bitter and angry two-year-olds I’d ever seen.

We know Renee was referred to adoptive parents, and the orphanage staff asked that we pay special attention to her, to get her used to strangers. Several of the other babies were in the final stages of the process as well, but did anyone go to Xi’an to take Emily home? Or May? Even as I write this I’m fervently wishing I could go pick up a baby I held for barely fifteen minutes one afternoon a year and a half ago.

I have always been mildly interested in adoption. I remember wanting to adopt Chinese baby girls when I was in high school, probably because I must have read some horrible story about all the unwanted girl babies. I’ve always thought it would be an amazing way to build your family, but I don’t think I ever felt certain that I would adopt until I held May.

So my heart practically dropped out of my chest on Sunday when I saw a couple at our church carry a little Asian baby down the aisle as they went up for communion. I dug my fingernails into Phillip’s arm and whispered, “Do you think she’s Chinese?” It was a good thing Mass was nearly over, because I couldn't concentrate on anything else. I stood there watching that family across the pews, wondering if it would be okay to randomly walk by and offer my congratulations. (This is how weird I get about New People. Of COURSE people want congratulations on their new babies! From anyone! But no, my brain has to fuss and fret and stress. I'm terrible.)

I kind of sort of knew the couple. They were guest speakers at our marriage class a few years before. Then one Sunday the priest asked the soon-to-be and new mothers to come forward for a special blessing, and she was part of the group. I remember congratulating her then, or maybe I said something insensitive, like, “When’s the baby due?” She told me she was adopting and I really meant every bit of my overly enthusiastic, “That’s so exciting!” A few months later they showed up at Mass with a little girl with tight black curls and bright black eyes. And this past Sunday they had another girl, an Asian baby this time, and I was dying to know. Did they take her home from China?

Eventually I got up the courage to join their little group of well-wishers and give my own congratulations. She was a big chubby baby, the best kind, and Phillip, bless him, asked if she was Chinese. No, they said, she’s from another country. And I realized she was too young to be one of my babies, and how crazy would that have been anyway! But now I’m trying to figure out how to get this woman to be my friend, so I can take her out for coffee and ask my millions of adoption questions. Two adoptions, two different countries, two beautiful little girls.

I haven’t written about this much (if at all), but it’s no secret I want a baby. Like, yesterday. It’s a frequent topic of discussion in my house, but we’re going to wait a while. I know I won’t have to wait forever, but it's been really hard.

When I saw that new baby in church, I remembered May. My eyes watered when I remembered her; I caught myself wishing she was mine. I’m not sure how, but I felt God reassure me that one day I would have my own little May. She would be a long wait, but one day she would be here. There was, I felt him tell me, a lot that needed to happen before she came home. Naturally! I thought of all the things one must do to adopt a baby- it certainly isn't something I can sit down and do tomorrow. It's definitely not something I can control myself, with all the mailing off of paperwork and depending on so many strangers to make it happen. I'm up to date on my adoption blogs!

I'm up to date on my infertility blogs too, and I know some women wait forever. I feel awful for feeling sad, knowing what they go through. But I know a lot of people just have their first baby and I thought I would be one of them. It never occurred to me that settling all the details would be so difficult. I did not count on this extended time in the waiting room and I certainly had no idea how sad it would make me. As I was missing May on Sunday, though, I felt okay about waiting, for the first time in months. I reluctantly decided that the wait for my first baby probably isn't any different. It's not the same kind of wait, as we're imposing it on ourselves, but I've been wasting it. I think God probably meant there was a lot that needed to happen in me. (And Phillip and our lives together and any multitude of future things that haven't happened yet.)  I should offer up this time to God and ask that he use it to make me a better mother and a better person. What am I doing here, mourning these plans that didn't work out? Why did I think that I shouldn't have to wait or plan or hope for this first baby, just like I've been doing for May? I can wait purposefully for both of them.
 

 


In which a morning person is entirely too satisfied with herself

I would just like to say, Internet, that I really enjoyed my day off. Thank you, Martin Luther King, Jr.! (And did anyone watch the Golden Globes last night? I particularly enjoyed how they hauled out a cheery Queen Latifah to quell any MLK-related uneasiness. The top two weekend movies are about African-Americans! Yay Progress! MLK would be so proud. Now drink up, movie stars, so you can entertain me with your sloshy acceptance speeches!)

Anyway, I enjoyed my day off so much that I think I should make it permanent. I don't really need to work five days a week. Does anybody out there work four tens? Does it kill you? Does that one day off make the early mornings or late evenings all worthwhile?

And it's not like I was sitting around all day. No no no. First, I got up when Phillip did and finished my homework. That's right, I have homework. I had to make three or four web pages, upload them to the school server, validate the code and email the links to my teacher. (And you guys, I am so disgustingly proud of myself. You have no idea. I make Phillip look at everything. I am totally not intimidated, even though Chapter 2 encompassed absolutely everything I know about web design. Upon closer examination it appears that subsequent chapters will be competing for the chance to kick my butt, but that work-from-home plan, it is coming along nicely.) Then I cleaned up my room (which is also the guest room, and where my sister was going to sleep that night) (which I completely rearranged Friday night when I got home from work, because I am crazy) and then I went to clean up Phillip's room. Which is a bit like being four years old and wandering around the Crown Jewels. DO NOT TOUCH! signs are flashing everywhere. Except there was a whole lot in that room that was MINE (senior seminar research papers, anyone? binders and binders full of photocopied poetry? notebooks and notebooks full of humiliating and horrifically bad poetry written by yours truly? what about my four or five short story class anthologies? anyone?) so I had to drag all that stuff upstairs. (And, um, throw it away. Which was painful. Because I am a sentimental "I might need to read this again!" dork.) Phillip's room is the official Office in the house, and the command center for all things TiVo- and internet-related, so it's gotta be in working order. It's also the only room (excluding the garage) where anything can be stored, and we were wasting so much space. But after I cleaned it out, I was afraid to put things away. Or organize in the slightest. There are four empty shelves now, but the only thing they house is a giant box of miscellaneous cords and gadgets and wires and plug thingies and had I dared to throw any of those things away, I'm sure the God of Nerddom would have smited me within seconds.

Then I boxed up the toys I rescued this summer from my mother, the Evil Almost Thrower Away Of The Cabbage Patch Doll, and put them in the garage. But I had to reorganize the garage before the box would fit. And there are all sorts of interesting things in the garage and of course I had to inspect all of them and put them in their proper and rightful places. Gah.

So no, there was no sleeping in or eating ice cream in my pajamas or watching whatever horrible movie is on at 9 a.m. Monday morning- I was WORKING. It was HARD. Have you SEEN Phillip's office? It is CRAZY. There are, like, fourteen computers hiding underneath that monster desk, and two gargantuan monitors and a filing cabinet from 1974. There are two bookshelves full of college junk, work junk and MCSE junk and twelve tons of amps, bass guitars, saxaphones and their accessories under the stairs.

And oh, it was lovely. That's what I need from my mornings: Productivity!

Then I realized I was totally exhausted and climbed into bed with a bowl of soup and watched 20 minutes of an Hercule Poirot before I fell asleep. And when I woke up, it was only one in the afternoon. Excellent! Think of how neat and clean our lives would be if only I had every Monday off!

And now you are all, "I am totally going to stop reading this blog because the cheery anal retentiveness is threatening to spill out of the monitor and infect me with the crazy."

[On an unrelated note: today I have to buy a new hair dryer because my old hair dryer has successively blown out (ha! get it! BLOWN out!) the electrical outlets in all three bathrooms. Which we did not fix until last night, when the guy who built the house came over and and reconnected things (and also stuck the soap dish back on the shower wall, because it just Fell. Off.) And he was really nice, with all the calming down of the Totally Inept Homeowners Who Don't Know The Right Word For That Concrete-Like Stuff Between The Tiles.  And oh, that is us. But then he was asking Phillip about downloading something from iTunes and how it wouldn't work and Phillip said he needed to do this and that and maybe change something in the registry and he just looked at us like, "Um, no." "The way you feel about the electric panel," he said, "is how I feel about the word 'registry'." And you know, that made us feel a mite better.]


Dear Seattle,

I don't think we've been getting along lately. You're too gloomy. I can't deal with this deep dark dread that drenches everything in the mornings.

Days_of_unending_misery

Really. At this point I am considering what it might be like to live somewhere else. Southern California, Scottsdale, Hawaii, even TEXAS at this point (hi jackie!). You think I'm kidding.

It wasn't raining when I went went out to my car this morning, a full hour and a half earlier than usual. I had a meeting down on Harbor Island, out where the ships drydock and refuel, where the train tracks have no flashing lights or barriers to keep you from barrelling into a cargo train. And I have to take 99 to get there and that always makes me nervous, because I don't drive that stretch very often. But it wasn't raining, and I was grateful for that.

Aurora was backed up. Tom Shane was on all the stations. I just wanted the day to be over with already. Then I was past the bridge, past Queen Anne hill, and heading up the ramp to the viaduct, which everyone says is going to collapse the minute the Big One hits.

But oh, the viaduct.

Right now the people in charge of you are bickering about how and when to replace the viaduct which, granted, is one of your uglier structures. It blocks the rich folks' waterfront view, it provides a dry spot for the poorer folks to hang out in this kind of weather, it's terribly close to the tourist waterfront activities and did I mention that it could potentially disintegrate at a moment's notice?

But as aesthetically dreadful, unstable and worrisome as it is, I don't know that any of your other highways provide such an amazing view.

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Viaduct2

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When I was little I remember my aunt would take me for a weekend to stay at her apartment in Eastlake. We would go downtown and walk amidst the towering buildings. That was probably when it first occurred to me that you could be a fun place to live. I would get to see the big buildings, the lights, the Space Needle every day. Then my aunt moved to Magnolia, and driving to her house meant driving on the viaduct. It was always nighttime when she took me home with her. I would sit in the back seat, trying to get a glimpse of every brightly lit street hiding in between the skyscrapers, all going downhill to the waterfront.

I felt that way again this morning. It was still dark out, so the lit up skyscrapers really stood out. And since I was driving south, I could see the outline of the giant orange cranes at the port, the lights on the West Seattle bridge, the ferries slowly swimming across Elliott Bay. The tires made a rhythmic "harrumph! harrumph! harrumph!" as I drove over the seams in the highway and I thought to myself, "Seattle? You're not all bad."

When I moved into my dorm room at the University of Washington, I thought there would never come a day when I'd be able to find my way around you. I never thought I'd be brave enough to drive a car through your traffic- I still remember when my friends made me drive to the Spaghetti Factory. I had to take Denny Way and it was terrifying. I remember when I used to work on the waterfront, how I walked through the Pike Place Market every day whether I had money or not. I remember thinking that I even if I lived all around the world, I could always call you home.

That made itself very real to me a few years later, when I realized at the very last moment that I had no interest in moving to China- I had no interest in moving anywhere- because I loved you so much. I had you and Phillip and my little apartment and my six-month-old marriage and I had only started to feel that I belonged somewhere.

Harbor Island was pretty deserted when I got there fifteen minutes early for my meeting. I've never found the maritime industry terribly exciting, but this morning I felt proud to be a part of it, driving past the giant cargo ship in drydock, the cranes, sitting in the parking lot of a locally-owned tugboat company. I sat there till it was a good time to go inside. I parked facing north so I could see the buildings, the Space Needle, the viaduct, the traffic. I listened to a local band on the radio and it was warm and dry and peaceful.

I got lost on the way back to my office. I still don't have those exits memorized and I missed mine. I took the U-turn route on Aurora and got lost on Queen Anne, looking at all the houses. I wondered if we'd have enough money to buy a house on Queen Anne some day. I wonder where we'll live, because we won't fit in our townhouse forever. I wonder if we'll have to get a house on the Eastside, out on I-90 in Issaquah or on 405 near Newcastle, where the houses are new and huge and the schools are good and the yards are big and the commute downtown is wretched. Or maybe somewhere south of you, close to Phillip's parents and probably mine and that would be good, because houses are cheaper and grandparents are default babysitters. It never occurs to me thatwe might move further than the suburbs, to another city let alone another state. "What if Phillip gets a good job?" my mother-in-law asked me once, but that job would have to be... I don't know. The only job left.

I won't say "never" because you should never say never, but I really really don't want to leave you. Maybe it's silly, to be so attached to where you live, but I actually feel like the luckiest girl. Do you know how many American high school students are living on military bases overseas, resenting their parents for moving them away from their own country, from what's familiar? Do you know how many of them can't deal with the separation and the culture and the fact that everyone has to buy their clothes from the same base store? Or how many of them decide to be angry at everything and everyone for the entire two-year tour? I told myself I would never be like them. I worried I would never find a place to be from. And now? I have you.  I hate this weather, Seattle, but Scottsdale doesn't have a viaduct.

A lot of people hate the city. Traffic, crime, pollution, crowds. But I think of little Craftsman houses packed together on tree-lined streets. Neighborhood restaurants, coffee shops, Christmas decorations in the department stores, the water, the mountains, the hundreds of joggers and dogwalkers circling Green Lake on a Saturday afternoon. I would appreciate it, please, if you would snap out of this damp and colorless mess we're in right now, and go back to your bright and vigorous (and yes, occasionally wet) self. I miss you.

love,
maggie


There's a bottle of wine waiting for me at home.

I am in a funk. Wait, I think that should be capitalized. Funk. FUNK.

Gah.

For starters, this weather is miserable. There was a time when I was totally unaware of the effects of lack of daylight and incessant rainfall on my physical wellbeing (and, for that matter: caffeine, sugar, stress and any number of icky Girl Things) but I am now one of Those People. I track all sorts of things normal people try not to think about. I am painfully cognizant of things I'll call External Stressors. And if something feels off, upsetting, out of whack, I will sit there and process everything I did or consumed in the preceding hours until I figure out why, WHY, I feel like warmed over ass on toast.

But sometimes? I think I would like to go back to waking up without assuming that my day will be crap because it is DAY 22 OF MEASURABLE RAINFALL.

(Disclaimer: YES, it rains in Seattle. YES, it rains a lot. But this? This is NOT NORMAL. The usual rain is a wet misty general blah-ness, not this stuff that makes me think my house is going to cave in. My little postage-stamp sized yard is a swimming pool and if my lone hydrangea doesn't come back this spring, someone is going to pay.)

I'm pretty tired. Too much to think about lately. Add the weather, the millionth person to ask me to explain the nuances of mail merge, homework, the electrical outlets that don't work, split ends, pants that don't fit, all the sugar I've eaten in the past month and hit Pulverize. There you go.

In hopes of decreasing the increasing amount of blah around here, I emailed (yes, emailed) a cutesy little salon in Wallingford today, and requested an obscenely expensive haircut and a brow wax to boot (fancy!) I want to sit around and feel pretty while someone else does all the work. If only they served cocktails.



Liveblogging (sort of) an awards show no one cares about

I am making chocolate chip cookies. At nine-thirty at night. You guys just don't understand the raw magnetic power of the cherry-red stand mixer.  You know those commercials for Axe, the smelly man perfume stuff, where the dude recycles his can and later on you see a woman rubbing up against a lamp post or a toaster? It's like that.

I usually make the recipe on the back of the chocolate chips bag, but this time I'm trying out the basic chocolate chip cookie recipe in Joy of Cooking. So far I like the way they look, kind of all wrinkly around the sides like one of those wrinkly little dogs (what are those called? ETA: My boss just told me my cookies resemble a shar pei. Mystery solved.) and it's about half the yield of the Nestle recipe which means I don't start to hate baking cookies before I'm halfway done. Have yet to taste one though.

(Good thing I haven't bought any smaller pants yet, huh?!)

I'm also watching the Critics' Choice Awards on TiVo. I will watch any televised event that begins with a feisty announcer guy rattling off a long laundry list of celebrities, but I refuse to watch them in real time. That way I don't have to sit through any potentially cringe-worthy acceptance speeches (Dakota Fanning) or any actor who wants to spout his politics (George Clooney, Dennis Miller) or anything boring (any categories not involving someone famous or movies I've never heard of.) It is, I believe, the only way to watch awards shows.

That Kung Fu Hustle won for the best foreign language film. Have they SEEN this movie?

(I haven't seen this movie. But it is about Kung Fu. And soccer. Need I say more?)

Movies I really want to see: Junebug. I actually tried to see this the other night but it has already left theaters in my area. Bummer! Brokeback Mountain. I wanna know what everyone's talking about. Crash. I've had lots of opportunities to see this one, but I have to find an evening when I don't mind actually thinking about my entertainment. This is more difficult than it sounds; remember, I have seen every episode of "The Newlyweds."

(Ever since I read Eats, Shoots and Leaves, I am paranoid about where I put my "full stop"- inside or outside the "inverted commas"????) (And Lynne Truss will probably hunt me down and shoot me for quadruple question marks.)

Moves I don't want to see: Syriana. The Squid and the Whale. Narnia. (Oops, I was already coerced into this one and except for cute little Georgie Henley, the whole thing is a big boring Blah. Oh, Georgie Henley and the White Witch's costumes, because dreadlocks and sculptured gowns are awesome.) Memoirs of a Geisha. My dad got me this book for Christmas and I got about a fourth into it before I decided that I did not have to feel sick to my stomach every evening before I went to bed. I can't handle stories about little girls who get shipped off to abusive strangers who treat them like servants. Sorry Dad!

Colin Hanks needs to get rid of those glasses, stat. He also needs to stop slurping up his spit, take his hands out of his pockets and practice with the Teleprompter BEFORE the show. Honestly. Didn't he grow up in this business? And he was so cute in Orange County.

(How should I be punctuating movie titles? I am too lazy to find out.)

Movies you couldn't pay me to see: Good Night, and Good Luck. Gaaaag. King Kong. I DON'T CARE IF HE HAS FEELINGS.

Andy Serkis arriving on stage to discuss King Kong? Made for television movie category? Ryan Seacrest? Excellent time to use the fast forward feature, don't you think? (Oh, that was not Ryan Seacrest at all, but that other kid on that one WB show, the one who isn't Rory Gilmore's married boyfriend. If you followed that, you are one of my people. Email me and we'll do lunch.)

I'm a little disappointed at the lack of revolting dresses. But can I please have Reese Witherspoon's hair? Pretty please?