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April 2006

Oh, the things I worry about

I read a lot of mommy blogs. I have nothing in common with these women, but I want to have kids soon and they fascinate me. They have given me great insight into the amazing, wonderful and frightening thing that is motherhood. One of the first things I learned is that there are more than a handful of taboo topics- topics the good mommy bloggers always write about, because no one wants to read a boring blog and everyone loves controversy. I don't know how many times I've read the same post about homebirthing, daycare, cry-it-out, breastfeeding- the opposing sides come out, they attack, they make it absolutely impossible to know you are doing the right thing for your baby. Someone remind me: why I'm so eager to jump into this whole baby thing?

But sometimes the mommies are just writing about their days. Or their nights. It's the posts about nighttime that make me nervous, even more than the debates over formula and c-sections and naps. It's the being awake all night, the hyper-sensitivity to every sound, the baby needing things at all hours. I am going to be royally screwed.

And it's not even the sleep training that terrifies me. I have no final opinion on the best way to make your kid stay asleep all night in his own bed. I say whatever works! No, it's the fact that babies don't sleep.

I have spent the last several years in grand pursuit of sleep. I'm the kind of person who needs 10 hours, preferably 14, in order to keep my sunny disposition. I go to bed earlier than most school children and wake up when all the old people are putting on their bathrobes and heading outside for the paper. And when I can't fall asleep until two in the morning, there is never any hope of me sleeping past seven or eight. When I'm anxious and it's dark, I start to worry about not being able to sleep. Worrying about lack of sleep makes it even harder to fall asleep. The trick is to convince yourself that it doesn't matter, that you'll still be able to function the next day, but it's exhausting getting to that point- exhaustion that doesn't always put your body into a much-needed eight-hour coma. I once went a week without sleeping at night (I'd fall alseep for a few hours in the early morning) and it was, hands down, the worst week of my life. I'm over it, mostly, but I've kept a well-past-the-expiration-date bottle of tranquilizers in my medicine cabinet in case that week ever makes a hint of another entrance.

So having a baby that doesn't sleep? MY baby? Oh dear God.

I used to worry about passing my crappy eyesight onto my baby. Or my stringy hair or my crooked teeth. But now I worry that I will pass my questionable mental health to my baby. When my baby cries at night, how will I know she's just hungry and not anxious? Doesn't that sound ridiculous? All babies cry at night! No baby sleeps through the night! But I'm so scared. When my three-year-old has a bad dream and can't go back to sleep, when my eight-year-old wakes up at one asking for a glass of water- how will I know that it's not anxiety making that happen? When my baby is awake all night because neither of us know how to help her sleep, I am so afraid of how I will feel. I think I will know my baby isn't anxious, but I will remember the week I couldn't sleep. I will feel awful, because I never ever want my baby to know what that is like.

When my baby is twenty-two and neurotic and crazy and silly and dramatic like her mother, what if she gets nervous about something and can't make it stop? It will be my fault. I gave that to her. It's not unfortunate, like bad teeth, it's not annoying, like stringy flat hair. It's unbearable.

It's past midnight right now. I lose most of my brain functionality after two in the afternoon, so this is admittedly the dumbest post ever. But it's something I think about, and something I'm thinking about right now. I'm not anxious at 12:14 pm. I'm tired, but I'm restless and a little bored, and Phillip is still working downstairs. I'm okay with all of that, which goes to show how far I've come.

Pedicure weather

Oh dear. I just wrote the most boring post in the world. It was all about my garden, how I love it so, and how I finally dug and ripped and stomped and dumped enough this weekend to get it to look the way I want. I waxed rhapsodic over my just-about-to-bloom hydrangea and peony plants, the tree I transplanted, the camellia in the corner, the pink azalea and the tiny rows of zucchini and cucumber and lettuce and snap peas. All in a patch of dirt the size of my queen-sized mattress. I may have whined a bit about the slivers in my palms and my incredibly sore legs, and declared it will all be worth it once I start to see my little vegetable seedlings. But I will just say this:

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
Margaret Atwood

We are having glorious weather in my part of the world. To celebrate the onset of true spring and the magical disappearance of my personal brand of Seasonal Affective Disorder, I treated myself to a glorious weekend, involving copious amounts of shopping, pretending to be a tourist, movies and live music and Bombay Sapphire gin and tonics. I even went to bed after midnight, on Friday and Saturday! It was like having a life! It was very cool.

Saturday night my friend the Pharmacist took me to see a band in Ballard. I used to do things like see bands. Then I got old and married and had to earn an actual living. But Saturday night I left my husband to play in his office and went out with the Pharmacist and her roommate to see the Clumsy Lovers who are, if nothing else, in possession of an excellent band name. I knew nothing about this band, even though the Pharmacist swears she's been following them for ten whole years. I didn't even check out their website. When I asked the Pharmacist what kind of music we were going to hear, she said, "Oh, kind of a Celtic, rock, folky band with a little bit of bluegrass and a lot of covers thrown in." I think a better choice for a band with a guitarist, a drummer, a bassist, a banjo/mandolin/everything else player and a fiddler is: no musical restrictions. Also, lots of clapping. It was awesome. After the first set we hung out outside with the smokers and talked smack about people who are too drunk to dance, let alone stand up, and I got the lowdown on the personal lives of the entire band. Then we headed back in for another hour of covers and foot stomping and the fiddler playing on the bar in her totally awesome red cowboy boots. (The opening band, The Town Pants, was the same kind of deal, except 100% more Celtic, complete with Irish toasts every three or four songs. Very awesome.) In my next life I am going to be a super-hot blond fiddler wearing miniskirts and red cowboy boots.

And then I woke up at 7 Sunday morning. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

I also saw 'Friends With Money' (interesting and fun until the very very end when you're all "WHAT?") and discussed what will happen to atheists in airplanes when the Christian airplane pilots are taken up mid-flight in the rapture. Either the atheists are going to need to make sure the airlines schedule pilots and co-pilots in believer/atheist combinations, or they're going to have to get Rapture Insurance. And now you are all "WHAT?" Don't ask me, ask my friend's friend, who is dealing with more than the average set of neuroses.

Happy beautiful sunny bright seventy-degree Monday everyone!

The lucky one

Here is a post my husband certainly won't want me to publish on the Internet. Heh!

Last week after suffering through the horrid interview and subsequent realization that I'd locked myself out of my beloved automobile, my in-laws helped me kill time before the traffic died down to a bearable level to drive home. (Good God, can you imagine my mental state had I driven home directly after the interview? Who knows how many drivers-who-refuse-to-use-their-turn-signals would have lost life and limb?) My father-in-law fed me a snack and listened to me kvetch and we watched the news until my mother-in-law came home. Then my mother-in-law made me feel better by telling me all sorts of awful stories about ThisCompany and then announced that we were going to Olive Garden for dinner and TOO BAD for Phillip not wanting to drive to the suburbs to join us because BOY was he going to MISS OUT.

I love my in-laws. They are so nice to me. They bring me fake Prada bags from Hong Kong and remember what kind of cake I like from the Chinese bakeries in Richmond, BC. They gave me my beloved automobile and they helped us buy our house and in return I try my best not to gag on that jellyfish appetizer and to present myself as a decent substitute for a nice Chinese wife in front of all their friends who don't speak English. It is obvious who has the better end of this deal.

When I am alone with my mother-in-law, she will invariably ask me about Phillip. How is he doing, what is he doing right now, is he happy, are we happy, are we worried about anything, does Phillip like his job, does he always work this much, do we need anything? This time she was worried about Phillip being the youngest/only child. Is he spoiled? Is he nice to me? Is he hard to live with? Does he help around the house? Does he pick up his socks?

NO, I said emphatically. He does NOT pick up his socks.

Actually, I found this line of questioning to be no end of hilarious. As MY family will certainly tell you, there is only room for one spoiled person in this relationship and that person is definitely me. I couldn't help myself from giggling over his mom's worries because seriously, there is no one more laid back, more willing to give in over stupid things, more unconcerned with getting his way than my husband. In fact, whenever he DOES request doing things HIS way, he does so in the nicest most non-confrontational way imaginable, complete with rational logic, all of which is so utterly foreign to me that I am speechless and capable of nothing except going along with him. (Except for the times when I am horrified that he would even THINK of not doing it my way and find this as reason to promptly start World War Three.)

Phillip's only sibling is eight years older than he is. I am the oldest of five, all one year apart. We've talked about this at length. How much does birth order factor into our personalities? Because we fit the stereotypes pretty well. Phillip is used to taking direction and I am used to giving it. Phillip is content to let his brother be the crazy overachiever and I am constantly feeling guilty about not being the overachiever I know I'm supposed to be. Phillip comes home and relaxes and I am upstairs furiously writing blog posts about the meaning of the word "relax" and how I have yet to figure out HOW to relax.

All that to say: I am the one who is difficult to live with! I'm sure this comes as no surprise to you readers o' mine, but it's good for me to remind myself of this fact now and again. We had an argument the other night, not even a real argument, just a misunderstanding, and I spent the rest of the evening going through my catalog of Marital Grievances, picking out just the right ones to support my case. But really, all that happened was that one of us was tired and one of us was (okay, IS) hyper-sensitive. And the tired one decided to bring the hyper-sensitive irrational harpy a giant bunch of flowers the next night, and really, there is nothing like a handsome man giving you a bazillion pink tulips to make everything right with the world. (Seriously boys, that is ALL YOU HAVE TO DO.)

So now I feel terrible about my list of Marital Grievances, especially since some of them happened way before we were married and therefore can't possibly be filed under "Marital". I feel bad for Phillip. He should have some sweet even-tempered girl who stays up late and can drive stick and is rightly afraid of the word "mortage", but instead he has me. I am a grouch. I start laundry at seven in the morning on Saturdays. I use him for absolutely all of my exhausting external processing. I cry about stupid things and refuse to go to any restaurant where the entrees are all carbohydrates. I make fun of his shaving schedule and the way he folds the plastic grocery store bags into little squares before he stores them in the closet. I complain about TiVo cutting off the last five minutes of Veronica Mars when I wouldn't even have a world with TiVo (the only kind worth having) if it weren't for my husband. And my mother-in-law thinks HE'S the difficult one?

But I guess that's the way I want it. Better to have everyone think they've got the better end of the deal, yes?

No amount of whiskey, no amount of wine

I have a new favorite song. It's called 'Gotta Have You' by The Weepies. It's like I have the troubador from Gilmore Girls following me around with his guitar, only he's joined by Deb Talan and they're singing the chorus over and over and over. And over.

It's not a bad song to have in your head. It's a happy one.

This morning I received a red exclamation point email informing me that my friend Fellow Bridesmaid was in the hospital. Apparently her baby decided to make his entrance seven weeks early. Now, last time I saw Fellow Bridesmaid she was getting a little uncomfortable and feeling rather over the whole pregnant thing, but I don't think she was THIS ready. I don't think she was REALLY minding having to be pregnant for another month. I mean, the new baby has totally disrupted the shower we were going to throw for her on Sunday! Obviously the baby and I are going to have to discuss things.

It appears I have passed from Wedding Season into Baby Season. I know it happens at different times for different people, but for me it's the last half of twenty-six. Not everyone is married, but they probably will be soon. And the ones who've been married a while are buying houses and having babies.

Maybe it's just who you end up with. My brother the Lieutenant happens to live and work with people who are just like him. I don't know how many of you are familiar with the military, but the same-ness of everyone is sometimes startling. The Lieutenant was even in a 'married' flight when he first started out- a bunch of guys his age, fresh out of college, all married or getting married that summer. On one hand it sort of creeps me out. On the other, how crazy lucky are my brother and sister-in-law to be surrounded by so many insta-friends, so many people going through the same stuff? He's twenty-four and the baby stage arrived long ago.

The people I know who are having babies are people I hope I know my whole life. It's likely I will be sending these babies high school graduation gifts and going to their weddings. I hope they will be friends with my babies. They are all going to have one white and one Asian-American parent and they might look more like each other than they will look like their own moms and dads. The whole thing just makes me sniffly and watery-eyed.

I just didn't know this was what it was going to be like. When I was seventeen and writing my college essays, I was writing about me and all the things I was going to do. I worried about a boyfriend screwing up my plans. Eventually I figured that out, but now? there are so many people. It's not even just me and my husband and our family- I am already in love with babies I've only seen in sonogram pictures and over a webcam. Is this even normal? Are my friends going to swoon over my kids? I just get so caught up in the hugeness of everything. This baby? His mother is nearly the first person I met when I moved back to the states. We plan to be friends for a long time. I can't believe I'm going to watch someone grow up.

Whiny and petulant v2.0

This post originally contained unbelievably mopey dreck and was titled 'Whiny and Petulant'. Because that pretty much encapsulates my day. That and a good dose of BLAH.

But it was ONLY whiny and petulant and NOT entertaining, not even in the way that my brother out in the godforsaken undisclosed Middle Eastern country would read it, snort to himself and say "Sucka!" It was a rather large dollop of miserable on low-carb bread and who wants any of that!

So here we are, edited to add: Things? Not so bad!

Well, here are the bad things, in short order, just so we can get them out of the way:

  • It's that time of year again. When people stop reading directions, when they are oblivious to deadlines, when they feel entitled to favors, when they call asking for information they could find on the same piece of paper where they found my phone number. It's the time of year where my dislike of the General Public slips even further into the murky misanthropic swamp of stinkeye.
  • It is sunny and I am not at home being "sick".
  • I had to go to a meeting about 401k plans this morning and not only was it the boringest thing in the universe, there was a giant box of doughnuts sitting in front of me the whole time.
  • I feel as though I went through an entire week of high school basketball practice last night, but all I did was weed and pull out a 3-foot-high bush in my postage stamp-sized yard. Am getting old.

But here are the good things!

  • In a desperate attempt to save my sanity re: the general public and their determination to ignore the words "no" and "deadline", I've begun accepting bribes. People just do not understand a simple "I could have helped you if you'd turned this in TWO WEEKS AGO when you were SUPPOSED TO." They do understand a vague "Well, I'm not sure what I can do..."  As of mid-Monday morning I've traded a well-situated table for free cocktails from 6 to 7 p.m. the night of the event and I'm ready to schedule the rest of the evening. At this rate I'll be hurling in the fancy hotel bathroom by ten. Excellent.
  • It is sunny and I have flowers to plant when I get home. Yay!
  • I amused myself during the 401k meeting by dredging up my giant database of Friends quotes and laughing inside my own head whenever Phoebe says "Four oh wunk."
  • All the yard work probably prevented a 400-pound weight gain from Easter brunch. At the very least, I am now a smidgen less embarrassed about my shabby little yard.

There. This is MUCH happier than the original.

Oh, and on a TOTALLY unrelated note, I wanted to say something about Easter.

For the second year in a row we attended the Triduum, which, in case you are not Catholic, just means a LOT of Mass. By 8:45 pm when we had to leave for the Easter Vigil, I was tired and crabby and crampy and gloomy and NOT looking forward to sitting in a dark church on a hard pew. And it was bad. I was falling asleep. I was cold. I was uncomfortable. What important thinker person said that it's hard to be all spiritual and holy when you're trapped inside a needy body? But eventually they turned the lights on and they baptized the elect and we sang "Jesus Christ is Risen Today" and it was EASTER. And then afterwards we went to the little party for the new Catholics, even though it was midnight, because there was some GOOD food and the priest sat with us and told super funny yet terribly embarrassing stories about all the old people who went on the Italy pilgrimage. Like one lady who complained to the hotel staff about how the microwave in her room wasn't working. And then the hotel staff explained that the microwave was not working because it was actually a SAFE.

But that's not what I wanted to tell you about. I wanted to tell you about the altar servers. We have girl altar servers at my church, but I've noticed that on Important Days, there are only boys. At the Easter Vigil there were four older men, two teenage boys and two younger ones, maybe eleven or twelve. I sometimes wish I was more indignant about this, more enlightened about women being priests and all that, but it doesn't really bother me. I actually LOVE seeing those men up there. I love seeing the adults wearing the same server robes as the little ones. I love how somber and dilligent the older men are about the altar cloth and the gifts and reminding the little ones when to do their chores. But the teenagers are my favorites. We've got a handful of them at my church. They press their palms together, they sing the hymns, their shoelaces are tied. They're reverent. And the best part is when one of them takes the incense from the priest, goes to the front of the altar and bows. He bows to US! And we bow back and he flings incense at us and bows again. I love the bowing. I love the ceremony and the ritual and I am so pleased to see it conducted by two teenage boys. I'm a little young to be Proud of our Youth, but I'm old enough to remember that the boys I knew at 16 and 17 were far from the kind who could take the Easter Vigil seriously, much less participate in the liturgy.

Maybe I will write more about this later. I'm thinking about one of these altar server boys in particular, and also this show I found while channel-surfing last night. It's called God or the Girl and it was RIDICULOUS, but also sort of fascinating. It reminded me of the seminary student I met when I was in high school, who kept a picture of his ex-girlfriend near his bed to remind him why he chose celibacy. Heh.

Fashion Friday

Good morning good people of the Internet! It is SPRING, something Seattle has yet to figure out, but that's not going to keep me from spring shopping. Whee!

(Also, must get this out of my system now so I can be properly pious and somber for Good Friday tonight. This is doubly important because last night, the last song on the radio before we parked for the Holy Thursday Service was 'Low Rider' and the whole time we're sitting and waiting for the procession I'm in the pew singing, "Low. Ri. Der." to myself. 'Low Rider', as you are well aware, is not the kind of song to have in your head at church. And every time I hear it I think of my friend's wedding. ANYWAY.)

The first thing I would like to have for spring are wedges. The Manolo has been recommending them left and right, but I am not super fantastic enough to spend $400 on shoes. Myshoes_1I'm also a pretty plain jane girl, not so much for the three-inch heels and pointy toes. The shoes I am wearing right now look very much like these, only without the scary tassels and mine are sort of slip-on-ish. Actually, the only thing my shoes have in common with these is the color and brand.  However! A swift browse through Zappo's reveals some interesting possibilities.


What do you think about these? These are cute, yes?  (And I am warning you people now, I am no fashion maven. If you think my shoe choices are fugly, remember that I've already got a Carrie Bradshaw-type sister to knock some sense into me.) 

UnisasandalsI like these too. These are cute. Unfortunately, they would cut off circulation around my elephant ankles and I'd probably fall over on every third or fourth step, but I can dream.

NicoleslingbacksOooh, and these! People, are these ugly? I can't tell. I like the slingback. Slingbacks work for me. The cork heels make me think of the shoes my mom is wearing in my baby pictures, but wedges! Wedges are in! I want so desperately to be IN. 

Spring also means skirts. I had an office job my sophomore year of college and once it started to get warm, I started to get tired of pants. I only had three pairs of suitable office pants anyway, and one pair of Sensible Black Shoes. I worked downtown in a fancy building and even stupid me knew that shorts were a major no-no. Sometime in June in dawned on me that I was a GIRL and girls could wear SKIRTS. Seriously, this was a new realization to me. I think I'd always been afraid of my shocking white ten-kinds-of-hideous elephant legs, but I decided not to care and bought myself a couple of Old Navy skirts. So comfortable! So refreshing! It was the most liberating thing ever. Isn't that sad? But THIS spring I am two sizes smaller. Two! Obviously I need to buy new skirts!

Nordstromskirt_2 Anthropologie_2 Jcrew_1 Bluefly1_1

Know what else is fun? Makeup! Okay, I know I know, I hardly even WEAR makeup, but that doesn't mean I don't love spending hours and hours in Sephora getting all sparklefied. Makeup costs a lot, and I just can't justify spending $18 on lipstick I will only wear when I have an early morning meeting and have to blow dry my hair and wear heels. But that doesn't mean I don't WANT to spend $18 on lipstick. And perfect excuse to blow the mortgage money at Sephora? SPRING!

I'm sort of in love with everything from BeneFit because I am a sucker for packaging. I love packaging. If it comes in a darling little box with a ribbon or fabric or a "retro" print with a "sassy" description, I will buy it. Well, I will buy it before I buy the fancy look-at-me-I'm-THAT-expensive brand name movie star makeup. Who wouldn't want a concealer named You're Bluffing! Or an eyes/lip/cheek palette called Heels Low Hair High? I love you, BeneFit. I especially love your LemonAid which makes me look fourteen hours more awake all on its own. (Did I say I don't wear makeup? I wear LemonAid every freaking day.)

But you know what I need? Some good mascara. The kind that does not turn to dust underneath my eyes. The Maybelline stuff in the pink bottle with the green top does NOT do it for me, no matter how many extra famous makeup know it alls say it will. I'm thinking this stuff is good, but I don't know if I want to be a BADgal at work. Urban Decay has the best product names out there, but I don't know if BigFatty mascara is the kind of look I'm going for either. I may just have to go down to the drugstore because if I'm going to spend money trying stuff out, I may as well spend less and get more. In the meantime, I think I need some of this stuff because I like that whole dewy lit up look and, must I remind you, it's SPRING! And look! Gloss for your eyelids! How cool is that! I've heard good things about Bare Escentuals too and this stuff might be just the thing for my vampire-like skin tone.

Oh no. I'm starting to feel disappointed about the lack of weddings I've been invited to this summer because now I have no reason to post pictures of potential Summer Evening Wear. Bummer. (On the other hand, free June weekends! Whoo hoo!)

In the meantime, it is Spring! and it is Friday! and I am in charge of bringing the meat products to Easter brunch! I am also bringing one of these. Shh, it's a surprise.

Some random lady wished me "Happy Holidays" on the phone today and you have NO IDEA how warm and fuzzy that felt. So try not to have inappropriate songs in your head tonight at Mass and have a happy Easter!

All of the words in all of my life

I recently signed up for a local writers' mailing list so I am now inundated with legal issues, ads for writing classes, requests for agent recommendations and response group notices on a daily basis. Most of it I delete without reading (I can barely call myself a writer anyway, do I really need an agent or advice on how to self-publish?), but I save all the calls for submissions. Who knows? I might actually, you know, submit something.

Tonight I was trying to find some appropriate writing samples to send to my interviewers (because I would like the opportunity to turn the job down), but decided to make myself feel better by being Proactive and starting a revision of one of my submission possibilities. This, I told myself, is what REAL writers do. Revise revise revise!

Ha. Five minutes later I was surfing iTunes.

People, I love iTunes. That thirty second song blip is genius. I have a fancy shmantzy iPod that I do not use because I don't exercise and Phillip keeps forgetting to give me the thingy to make it play in the car. Also, it is full of the entire Sting discography, whiny crybaby Coldplay and a horrifying amount of nonsensical jazz, the kind that makes my eyes glaze over and roll slowly to the back of my skull. Must our iTunes library be shared? Really?

But I can sit at my computer all night long reading blogs and news sites and message boards and listening to my carefully crafted playlists. Let's skip how this qualifies me as nine kinds of nerd who should thank her lucky stars that she found someone oblivious enough to marry her anyway, and move directly to the handful of fantabulous songs I recently downloaded for my listening pleasure.

You all know I like country, right? I am not from the part of the world that does not make fun of you for listening to country music, so I put up with a bit of derision for this. (Also for the way I use double negatives, but that's besides the point. And how I wish I could have used 'Y'all!' at the beginning of this paragraph!) Even my friend who likes country doesn't listen to country anymore. (What a dork!) I'm just telling you this because I don't care if you think country is the purest form of dreck, Rascal Flatt's new song 'What Hurts The Most' is gorgeous. (And if you think a song that's got banjo in the background can't be gorgeous, you have never listened to Bela Fleck's 'Big Country'. In fact, you are not allowed back until you have listened to that song, in its entirety, and imagined yourself on a road trip through Our Great And Beautiful Country. Shoo.) So anyway, 'What Hurts The Most' is my new favorite country song, hands down. So what if Rascal Flatts is the country equivalent of the Backstreet Boys? If that fiddle doesn't make you want to sob, you have a heart of stone.

But okay, I actually have another favorite country song. I am horrified to report that it's Faith Hill's new one: 'The Lucky One'. People, I may love my country music and, at one time, may have considered joining the Kenny Chesney fan club, but I'm not big on the big female stars. Shania is annoying. Faith's songs are dumb. Ok, wait. Maybe just them. ANYWAY. I've never really liked any of Faith Hill's popular songs and I've never held it against Tim McGraw for marrying her because dude, if you look like Faith Hill you can totally get away with the dorkiest songs ever. However! Her new one is the perfect combination of fun, meaningful, catchy and awesome. Love it! The girl you see driving the '92 Ford Explorer with the windows down and shrieking along to her country music is me with Faith Hill on my radio. Although, pretty much any song about "I thought I'd be farther along, but it's all good because I have you yeah yeah yeah!" makes my heart go all aquiver.

The next one I heard while I was watching last week's Everwood. (Do you watch this show? What? Seriously? Okay. Go listen to 'Big Country', THEN watch the episode of Everwood where Amy Abbott goes all "Okay, you know what, I'm gonna take a second and wait for you to provide some type of explanation as to why this HOOKER THONG is in your couch cushion" on Ephram. (It's a family show, really!) Done? Excellent.) So Andy and Ephram are sitting in the living room at the end of the show, all significant and father-son-like, and there's this piano in the background and a very earnest-voiced man singing that he is the luckiest. Lucky! It's a theme! As soon as the significance and earnestness tapered off into "Produced by Greg Berlanti", I ran upstairs to Google Everwood soundtracks and AHA! 'The Luckiest' by Ben Folds. Recently I've discovered that I am not a Ben Folds Five fan, but an emerging and enthusiastic Ben Folds By Himself fan. Love this song! Again, any song where a guy is singing about how much he loves someone is sure to turn me into a puddle (see: "What Hurts The Most"), but STILL. So earnest! So significant! So... dripping with MEANINGFULNESS. People, I am nothing if not a sentimental drip.

And speaking of TV shows, I found my next song on a recent episode of Scrubs. (And if you haven't seen Scrubs, you are officially not allowed to read my website. SERIOUSLY? WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING WITH YOUR FREE TIME?) So at the end Carla and Turk are celebrating getting pregnant and a song is playing and everyone is hugging and Phillip and I look at each other and say: "Is that a CHRISTIAN song? On Scrubs?!" We are not used to our secular and spiritual worlds colliding in any way. But what other kind of song uses the phrase "I lift up my hands and I worship"? But it was kind of a cool song so I rushed upstairs to consult Google and now I have 'All The Words' by Kutless on my new playlist. I have never heard of Kutless. If you ask me, that's a pretty dumb band name. (I just checked them out on iTunes. Apparently? Very popular. Oops.) I'm fairly clueless when it comes to Christian music anyway, seeing as how I find most of it unlistenable. That's not very nice, is it, especially as that is also how I would characterize most of what plays on MTV's countdown show. Which I totally don't watch, of course. And this song isn't that special. It sounds a lot like one of the other Christian songs I like, 'Spoken For' by MercyMe. Power chords, a boy with a clear voice, words that make me happy. But I just like it. I like how Scrubs used it. I like what it's about. It made me actually look up the Christian station on my radio in the car. I promptly switched to the country station, but the point is, I TRIED. 

So if you have discovered any awesome songs via a television show lately, or came across them the way normal people do, let me know. It's been a long time since I heard anything new. I've forgotten that I used to be someone who spent half her rent money at the used CD store.

It's YOUR LOSS, ThisCompany

The bad news: the data server is down in my office which pretty much FORCES me to surf the internet all day.

The worse news: Bloglines is down too! NOW what am I supposed to do? Actually TYPE IN blog addresses? YEAH RIGHT.

Instead I am going to tell you about my interview. Let's call this entry: How Not To Conduct An Interview In Such A Manner That Your Interviewee Will Lambaste You On Her Personal Website. (With special thanks to the much more famous Maggie Cheung who prevents potential employers from ever finding this website.)

1. Be on time.
I got to my interview a whole hour and a half early, THAT is the scope of my anal retentivity. (Is that a word?) I drove around and sat in a nearby parking lot reading the publications I hoped to be working for in the near future. I prayed. I thought about how this was a tiny little job that could lead to better things. I thought about how terribly cool it would be to work for ThisCompany, an amazing organization doing good works all over the globe. How fantastic it would be to say "I, Maggie, am a small cog in the many gears of ThisCompany's wonderful do-gooder machine." I reminded myself not to go overboard with the idealism, but shoot. ThisCompany is an AWESOME organization!

The HR lady found me in the lobby and led me to two or three conference rooms before she remembered which one she scheduled. My interviewers weren't there. "Oh!" she giggled. "I had to reschedule and I probably forgot to give them the new room number!" So she made about fourteen different phone calls trying to find my interviewers. She left me alone in the conference room while she hunted them down. My 4 p.m. interview started at about 4:15.

My response: Awesome! Less time for them to ask me questions!

2. Have some idea of the questions you will ask your interviewee.
You'd think this is a fairly basic concept, but we wasted another 5 minutes while the Senior In-Chief Executive Something Or Others looked expectantly at the HR lady, waiting for HER to ask me questions. Eventually they got a move on, pulling items out of my online application and throwing out a few Standard Interview Questions here and there. We talked a lot about how we love apostrophes in the correct places and how great it is to be doing a job like this for a company like ThisCompany.

My response: These people are WAY COOL. I could learn so much from them! They love punctuation! I love punctuation!

3. Present your interviewee with a basic job description.

I must admit that I do not have tons of interview experience and I'm not so much interested in the jobs that require hard core high stress interviews anyway. But it SEEMS, I mean, it just makes SENSE, that you would want your interviewee to have a basic idea of the duties and responsibilities for which she would be responsible. Right? Is it just me who thinks this? After chatting about what I can do, what I want to do, what I might not be so good at, what I haven't had experience with, we finally got around to the part where I could ask a question or two. And it only occurred to me then, that they had not mentioned anything about the actual job. So I asked them to tell me more about it. AND THEY COULDN'T. "Well," they stalled, "well, we need someone to back up In-Chief with that thing. And then we'll need someone to pick up the slack on Executive's stuff because she just has too much going on. As for Senior, well, she is just swamped and we're thinking the new person could be helping with that as well." "So kind of a catch-all position?" I said. And they looked at me gratefully, nodding their heads.

My response: Uh...

4. Your interviewee probably wants to ask more than one question.
After I asked what the job actually entailed and received my non-answer, the HR lady made motions to get up and leave. I asked when I might hear from her and she gave me another non-answer. Then they started saying it was great to meet me, and I said, "Wait! I have another question!"

My response: Wait a second here...

5. Do not misrepresent the job when you advertise.
I asked what part-time meant. "Oh," said the Senior Something or Other, "at least... 32 hours a week?" The HR lady looked confused. Then she looked at me and said that part-time meant anywhere from 20 to 39 hours a week, but (and she looked at the Senior Something or Other) she thought the job was about 20 hours. "Oh no," said the Senior Something or Other, "we're looking at the upper end of part-time." And no, they both told me, it's definitely not something you can do from home.

My response: Disappointment is beginning to set in...

6. It is only good manners to shake hands with your interviewee and see her out.
After it was over (only later did I realize it was 5 pm and they were ready to go home), we all shuffled out of the interview room. The Senior In-Chief Executive Something Or Others called over their shoulders that it sure was nice to meet me and disappeared. The HR lady rode the elevator down to the second floor and said, "You can find your way out, right?" And I rode down to the first floor, turned in my name badge and went out to the parking lot to discover that I'd locked my keys in the car.

My response: SUPER.

After some rather in-depth analyzation, I think that if I am not offered the job, it will be because I don't have certain kinds of experience, NOT because I had a crappy interview. In fact, I think the me-answering-questions part of the interview went pretty well. HOWEVER! The fact that I interviewed for a job requiring certain kinds of experience I don't have was completely news to me, as the job advertised had NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT THEY ACTUALLY WANT.

Internet, I am so disappointed. I really wanted to work for ThisCompany, but I don't want this job. At all. Even more disappointing, ThisCompany did not live up to the amazingness I believed it to be. At ALL. Internet, I could conduct a better interview than that!

I didn't really figure this out until I was wandering around the parking lot waiting for my [fabulous!] [wonderful!] [lifesaver!] father-in-law to bring me the extra key to my beloved automobile. I had a bad feeling, but I didn't know why. And the more I think about it, the more indignant I get. First they start late, then they can't tell me what the job is about, then they don't even give me a chance to ask questions because they're ready to leave the office. I'm not sure I would have even applied for the job had I known what they really wanted.

So whatever. My in-laws took me out to dinner, told me they were glad I didn't want the job because so-and-so's daughter works for ThisCompany and they send her to AFRICA to write STORIES and the travel arrangements are ALWAYS A MESS and the stories aren't even GOOD. Then I went home, cried to Phillip, watched 2 episodes of 24 and went to bed. No harm done, I guess.

Are you thinking happy thoughts for me? Right NOW?

Yesterday I went to church. We went to Costco. We watched another four episodes of 24. I spent nearly the entire afternoon baking bunny-shaped sugar cookies, frosting them with white buttercream and piping on pink smiles and pink centers on the ears. I went through about fifteen busted zip lock bags because I don't own a proper pastry bag. I only broke two cookies.

This is what I do when I am Not Thinking About That Interview.

I have an interview today. Ack.

I am not a good interview, people. I clean up well on paper; the problems start when I have to actually use my voice.  I basically didn't get the last job I actually interviewed for because (dum dum dum!) I had a crappy interview! "She wasn't... chatty enough," they told my old boss, who was angling for me to get that job and QUITE disappointed that my standoffish uber-somber-professional behavior screwed things over. "You've gotta watch that," he told me. "People like people who are friendly." 

(Crushed though I was, I have now offered up plenty of slaughtered lambs as overwhelming thanks that I did NOT get that job. Can you see me in pointy heels, bossing people around hotel banquet rooms all the while yammering on my cell phone? I mean, people who are not my siblings? Um, no.)

Anyway, here I am gearing up for another interview, but this time, I don't think chattiness is really going to matter. It's a part-time contract job that mostly involves (or so it appears) crouching behind a computer and muttering incoherently about people who use forty words when three will do? That is the perfect job for the standoffish and unfriendly! There is even a teeny part of me that actually wants to be chatty. See, when I tell you this job is COOL, I am not telling you AND myself in a desperate attempt to believe I am actually interviewing for something cool. No, I think this job actually IS cool. I do not have to drum up any "excitement" for this job because I think it actually IS exciting. (Exciting for someone who likes sitting in her corner and hammering at her keyboard and pretending she has no coworkers.)

It will be even more exciting if they say, "Oh yes, you can DEFINITELY telecommute!"

On the other hand, I am being interviewed by three (three!) senior in-chief executive something-or-others which makes me think it might not be the loosey goosey job I kind of want it to be.

That is another post entirely: Why I Want A Part-Time Loosey Goosey Work-From-Home Type Job Instead Of Putting That College Degree To Good Use.

Eeeeeeeeeeeeee! I'm nervous.

Confessions of an uptight basketcase

I went to confession last night. Oh, excuse me. Penance service. Where everyone sits together examining their conscience and then stands in line to give a speed-confession to the priest of his or her choice. In Italy I used to go to the Italian priest because I had doubts as to whether he'd understand me. Last night I went to the priest I knew. I said, "Hi, Fr. So and So." And he said, "Hi, Maggie." And then my big list of sins to confess completely flew out of my head and I stood there blankly. I dredged up one or two things to say. I finally blurted the third thing which made me cry. In front of the priest I knew. In front of the church. With fourteen people waiting behind me. Must I always be so dramatic?

Lent? It's been all right. I wish I behaved myself better. I wish I could sit in church and actually listen to the sermons, or go to bible study and participate without my mind wandering off on innumerable tangents. It's expected. After all, I've been nominated for one of the councils. One of the church ladies called me the other night to see if I could help out with one of their events. It appears, finally, that we are Involved.

Why has it been so difficult? At the end of May Phillip and I are going to "help" with one of the pre-marriage classes. We were given a calendar that showed what the topic was going to be each week. We picked "separate pasts/family of origin" because we thought we had the most to say about that. But when I finally got my act together and let them know we were willing to talk, the organizers told us that they'd saved 'Spirituality' for us. I know why this is. We are young and childless and we go to church. She used the "role model" speech which I haven't heard since high school (and only then because the one and only time I ever skipped class, the guidance counselor caught me and read me the You Are Supposed To Be A Good Role Model! Act in the middle of the senior hallway. This, after skipping class with my mother's PERMISSION. ANYWAY.)

My. Someone's not quite over that, is she?

So I've been thinking about what we are going to say. Yeah, I don't know. On one hand: yes, we are young people who go to church and think church is important and participated in RCIA and bible studies and this new 'youth' thing. On the other hand: it is SO HARD. It's not that I don't feel 'qualified' to tell people about spirituality being important, but when it comes to the church community, which is something the organizer specifically asked us to talk about, I just don't know how gung ho I can be. It is something about which I have quite a lot of Angst, even with the steps we've made. It's taken us nearly six years to feel like we are part of the church community. Granted a lot of that is our own misanthropic half-hearted faults, but honestly, it wasn't for lack of trying.

On the third hand, I have Angst about everything and why would this be any different? Another gin & tonic please!

Speaking of "Angst" and "everything", I believe that accounts for half the reason I have lost five pounds in the last week. That and the determination to Phase One myself into a new dress for a work event at the end of the month. But I have lost my appetite more times in the last week than probably all the ones that came before. I'm a stressball, and it doesn't look like it's going to get better until, oh, July? Maybe in July my heart rate will go back to normal and I'll have time to plant those poor flowers that are wilting in their little plastic containers on my front porch.