Monday, May 31, 2004

"Tell Me That's Not Cat Puke"

Any conversation that begins with that one isn't headed anywhere good.

Got home from a weekend away and found the bedroom door open.  This was somewhat disappointing as the cat is generally not allowed in the bedroom when I'm not home, but, hey, I'm not going to freak out over a pillow out of place or a little...

Tell me that's not cat puke.

In a big pile, right in the middle of my comforter.  (The green and lilac comforter I just redecorated my room around.  That comforter.)  Big puddle of cat puke.  I'm not up to carbon dating the stuff, but it has a consistency that suggests it isn't exactly fresh.

Oddly, I do not freak out about this.  I have two thoughts:  (1)  Hey, at least it wasn't the brand new carpet; and (2)  Why am I not freaking out about this?  I don't want to give my mother any ideas or anything, but I think I'm starting to understand one (small, tiny little) thing about parenting -- there's this sort of calm that takes over when someone you dearly love accidentally does something that, if anyone else did it, would really piss you off.  I mean, here I am with cat puke all over my comforter, and when I see the kitten, my first thought is to get down on the floor with her, pet her little body, and say, "Aw, poor baby has an upset tummy?"

Yeah, well, if she did it on purpose, that'd be a different story.  But my Purry Little Princess gets the benefit of the doubt.  Poor widdle thing.

So, after application of Cat Mess Wipes (which don't do much good for the stain in the middle of the comforter), I take off the comforter cover planning to put it in the washing machine.  I see the puke has gone clear through the comforter as well, and think maybe I ought to wash that, too.  I stick the comforter in the washer, and go the kitchen to grab a Coke.

The fridge is open.  Not a lot, but a little.  The Coke is warm.  I have no idea how long the fridge has been open, but I'm sure my electric bill will have something to say about it.  I am seriously ticked about my house/cat sitters -- I mean, really, bedroom door open, puke on comforter, refrigerator open ... these are the sort of things that I have a friend watching my place to AVOID.

I sit down at the computer and try to find that calm I had a few minutes before. 

The doorbell rings.  I half-expect the neighbor/cat sitter, saying something like, "sorry about the cat vomit, but I couldn't find the wipes." 

It is my downstairs neighbor.  My washing machine, stuffed to the gills with my comforter, has managed to do something to my neighbor's pipes, and is sending water out their air conditioning vent.  This can't be good.

Normally, I'm all about postponing the laundry until the problem is under control, but, you know, did I mention the cat puke on my comforter?

Neighbor asked me to give him a few minutes to try to shut down the water at his end or something.  I, of course, oblige -- turning off the washer.  It's been about a half hour and he hasn't come back up yet.  Which means that, even if I get it restarted now, I'm not going to be able to go to sleep till around 1:00 a.m.


Where did that nice, even, peaceful mood go?

Friday, May 28, 2004

Homework: Vacation!

This week, Scalzi (we're on a last name basis, right?) asks,

"Weekend Assignment #7: Share the vacation you most want to take -- but haven't taken yet. (Extra Credit: Show off some recent vacation photos.)"

Is that a weekened assignment tailor made for me or what?

I mean, really.  The whole raison d'etre [imagine appropriate accent marks] of this journal was for me to document getting my act together and taking it to New Zealand.  (Hence the screen name.) 

It wasn't just about going to New Zealand, it was really experimenting with a whole new philosophy.  A more adventurey philosophy.  One that involved jumping into canyons, hiking on glaciers, whitewater rafting, black water rafting, and (of course), bouncing down a hill in a big plastic ball.

And it worked out great (excepting, perhaps, for the glacier thing).  The travelogue (in a billion tiny entries) starts here and the recap in photos is here.

I here re-post my favorite photo from the whole trip:

You just don't get scenery like that around these parts.

And so ... (to the first part of the homework assignment) ... you may ask where I really want to go next.  And I've finally figured it out:  Alaska.

More precisely, I want to go on a cruise with these people.  I mean, get a load of this cruise:  small boat through the Inside Passage, lots of kayaking and checking out the wildlife, and the boat even spends a night in Glacier Bay National Park.  I am so drooling.

There is, of course, the small matter of the, er, price.  Which is why this vacation is the "vacation I most want to take -- but haven't taken yet," as opposed to "the vacation I'm going on next month.  See you.  Bye."  And, of course, if I'm going to be in shape for all that hiking and kayaking, I'd better go back to the gym.  At least I'll have something cool to motivate me.

Random Thought for the Day

The one problem with taking the kitten in your arms and kissing her to bits and hugging her and burying your face in her coat...

... fur up your nose.


Thursday, May 27, 2004

"In Praise of Base Coat" or "You Get What You Pay For"

I usually get my nails done (when I get them done at all) at a neighborhood salon/day spa.  This sets me back about $20.  Base coat, two coats of color, and top coat, all meticulously applied -- plus all that cuticle trimming, oil dripping and lotion rubbing that makes a manicure an experience.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the procedure -- but I think the bulk of it is just for show -- all that really matters is that they put the paint on your nails.  And anyone can do that, right?

The other day, I was going someplace and thought painted nails might be nice.  My local place didn't have any available appointments, so I went to the Cheapo Nail Place in the shopping mall.  $8.  For what appeared to be the same full-service manicure.

Oh sure, corners were cut -- they were a little stingier with the oil, and the "hand and lower arm massage" that usually comes with the manicure stopped at my wrist -- but, basically, they covered all the bases.

Except for the base coat.  Rather than actually PAINT the base coat on my nails, the lady just dabbed a spot on each nail.  She then went on and did the standard two coats of color followed by a top coat.

While my $20 manicure normally lasts three days without showing the slightest signs of wear -- and can generally make it a whole week without looking worn to a casual observer -- this $8 version started peeling the very next day.  A lot. By day three, it was totally useless.

Conclusion:  Base coat is not a rip-off, but an $8 manicure is.

Tiny Rant at AOL

Is there any way to STOP with the broadband content?  I log on, and I try to open my mail.  Every time I click on the little mailbox, it ignores me.  Why?  Because it is too busy streaming The Day After Tomorrow at me.  It is only after I hit "pause" on the little player that AOL will recognize my request to open my mailbox.

Jeepers, people -- watching that same promo every time I sign on AOL (with each of six different screen names) is worse than pop-ups.  I wish there was a way to tell AOL, "Just because I have broadband doesn't mean I want all that content."


I am so stressed over this whole home improvement thing...

(How stressed are you?)

I am so stressed over this whole home improvement thing, I got ZITS.

Big ugly zits on my forehead and chin.

I'm thirty-five!  I understand getting zits when you're stressed about the prom, or stressed about taking finals, or stressed about getting into college.  

You would think that, by the time I'm 35, my physical manifestations of stress would take on a more grown-up form, but apparently this is not presently the case.


Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Hibernation, Round Two

Here I sit, in the guest bedroom/office, with Jasmine (who isn't taking it quite as good-naturedly as last time), while the next round of Home Improvement Professionals (a.k.a. "the carpet guys") install carpet in my bedroom.

Jasmine was meowing a lot when I put her in here, so much so that I gave the carpet guys the keys and just locked myself in here with her.  Apparently confinement isn't so bad when you're enduring it with someone.  Explains the whole "solitary as punishment" thing in prisons.

I heard the carpet guys leave (temporarily), so I took a peek out the door.  My dresser is in the hall.  My bed is broken down into two rather large chunks; my mattress and box spring are standing up in the middle of the living room.  My TV has moved into the bathroom, as has the curio cabinet.

The old carpet in my bedroom is gone.  The old mat is gone.  All that's left is a cement floor and that tack strip around the edges (you know, the thing that looks like a ruler with nails pointing upward at regular intervals).  The room (although freshly painted and with a lovely new shutter) is looking somewhat naked.

I think your unfinished floor is something you're not supposed to see -- like, say, your own intestines, or how they make sausages.  They're things that you know exist -- and you probably know in your heart that they're pretty ugly -- but you prefer not to think about them.

So, I'll just sit here with the cat for the duration -- until they lay the new carpet and tell me it's safe to return.

I should also add the following note, for anyone who might be contemplating installing carpet in their closet.  The original estimator (who came out and measured my room) said I should just get the low-hanging things out of the way for the carpet installers, rather than emptying the entire closet.  I thought this a good idea, since emptying the entire closet would be a huge pain in the butt.  I even confirmed it with the guy on the phone this morning -- "I just have to clear the low-hanging stuff, right?"  "Right."  But nobody warned me about the massive quantities of DUST that tearing up one's old carpet and mat generate.  I have a feeling that I'm going to have to take all my freshly-laundered high-hanging clothes back to the cleaner when this is all done, as they are all lightly coated with the dust of twenty-some-odd-years of crappy old carpet.  Word to wise.

And, just so you know -- the crown molding likely won't be installed until early June, and it's very possible my laundry room door will remain on my balcony until that time.  (Please don't rain; please don't rain.)  The painter had recommended a carpenter to deal with both of these tasks, but has gone incommunicado on me ever since Sunday morning's promise to call me Sunday night with the carpenter's schedule.  I left a final message on his voice mail yesterday, and then just made another appointment with Handyman Network to send me a carpenter.  First available appointment:  June 3rd.  I really, really, really would have liked to have the crown molding installed before the carpet came (and I am getting mighty sick of moving my breakables in and out of the bedroom) but it can't be helped.  Sigh.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Observe My Peevedness

OK, last year, this was a show on Broadway that was incredibly, phenomenally good.  It was a revival of the musical Big River.  The revival was originally mounted by Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles, and the production was notable because it used Deaf and hearing actors together, and put the songs across with a combination of voice, sign, and dance.  There's never been anything on Broadway like it.

It was wonderful.

It started off at Deaf West in Los Angeles, transferred a mid-size theatre here and then opened on Broadway.

It got nominated for a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical.  It is about to embark on a national tour a few days after the Tony Awards.  (Go see it.  Really.)

Traditionally, shows that get nominated for Best Revival are given an opportunity to perform on the Tony telecast.  CBS has decided, in its infinite stupidity, that Big River will not be given a performance slot.  They say this is because the show is no longer running on Broadway, but that's a load of horse hooey, as shows that have closed are often featured on the Tonys.  And this show is about to go on tour, so the nationwide viewing audience would be much more interested in learning about it than some musical that will open and close on Broadway and never be heard from again -- but which has the good fortune to happen to be running now.

I know there is a long and unfortunate history of ineffectual letter-writing campaigns to television networks.  Yet I am so phenomenally peeved about this decision -- which feels like a slap in the face to not only the Deaf community, but the community of people who happen to love inventive, entertaining theatre -- I felt a strongly worded email was in order. 

There is a little "feedback" button at  I'm just saying.  Should you be so inclined.

Not the Last You'll Hear About Redecorating

I was hoping to just finish everything and throw you a nice "after" picture, but Anna asked some questions and I just hate to keep you in suspense.  Here, then, is what I've learned from the experience so far:

1.  Installing crown moulding is a pain in the butt.  Actually, I should have seen this one coming.  I was standing there in the first of three home improvement stores looking to buy some crown molding, and I asked some random other customer his advice.  He said to me, "You're not thinking of installing this yourself are you?  It's kind of tricky."  Big red sirens should have gone off at that point.  I mean, for me, anything the other side of hanging a picture is "kind of tricky."  When I'm looking at something that is "kind of tricky" for a guy who actually owns his own mitre saw, it's time to seek professional assistance.  I had, however, underestimated the level of professional assistance I needed.  The "handyman" I'd hired (who, as it happens, does have his own mitre saw) said it was beyond him; what I needed was a carpenter.  I do not yet have a carpenter.  The crown moulding is therefore ... sitting in the middle of my floor. 

2.  Lighting Makes All The Difference.  The shutter arrived!  Happy dance!  And the nice men installed it lightning quick.  (Stick frame in window.  Stick shutter in frame.  Use nail gun.  Use little stick to fill in holes in shutter caused by nail gun.  Leave.)  And it looked terrific.  I'd been all afraid that the "off white" color I'd ordered would look brown and icky against my pretty new mint green walls, but it didn't.  It looked very nearly white.  I was really relieved.  Until night time.  When there's sunlight all around, the shutter looks nice and white -- at night, it turns almond.

3.  There's Always Something Else To Fix.  I've figured out the perfect gift.  I'm serious.  If you ever need a present for someone, buy them four hours of handyman time.  The handyman arrived at my door prepared to paint (and, unfortunately, not to install crown molding).  But, once he took down the light fixture to paint the ceiling, I thoughtI might as well replace that... and, of course, the laundry closet door had come off its track again ... and we decided to do that sponge thing on the living room wall.  Next thing I knew I was at Home Depot buying a new light fixture, a new bi-fold door kit, and a gallon of glaze.  And I had to stop myself before I asked him to fix that problem with the vertical blinds, and that one kitchen cabinet door that always scrapes the ceiling, and and and..

4.  Bestest Kitten Ever.  Back when I first got the kitten, she had a broken leg.  The vet fashioned a splint for it (popsicle stick + electrical tape), and told me to keep her in a confined space.  I put the cat in the guest bedroom, opened the pass-through door to the bathroom, and left her there with food, water and litter.  She meowed her face off.  She meowed so loud I was afraid the ASPCA would hear.  So I opened the door and she scampered (or, as near as she could scamper with a broken leg) off down the hall.  Fine.  No confined space for you.  But, because of this experience, I'd thought there'd be no way she'd put up with being confined in the exact same space for a few hours while someone painted.  It turned out to be a lot more than a few hours.  It was very nearly three days.  And she was wonderful.  For most of the time, she was very happy to be in there, as she didn't want anything to do with the man who made the loud banging noises and carried the smelly paint.  But even when she meowed a bit, a little attention calmed her right down.  She was terrific.  I never would have agreed to do the rest of the job were it not for the fact she was, at the time, cheerfully hiding under the fold-out bed in the guest room, acting like a little kid playing "fort" or something.

Carpet on Wednesday.  Crown moulding and re-hanging of laundry room door at a time yet to be determined.  Ugh.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Showing Off

Yeah, ok, bedroom still has a ways to go.  But lookit the pretty artistic wall in the living room.

Obviously, my photography skills leave something to be desired (as does my light source), but still, be impressed by the spongy dusty roseness of it all.

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The Most Depressing Thing About Painting

No, not the first scratch on the new paint -- although I just did that.  (I remember when I last got the place painted.  Every time I scratched something, I dug out the touch-up paint and fixed it.  That must have lasted for three weeks.  This time I scratched the paint, thought, "Heh, maybe we'll touch it up tomorrow....  or not.")

No, the most depressing thing about repainting is putting all your stuff back.

In my case, the videotapes.

Remember when videotapes were cool?  An exciting new piece of amazing technology -- not something big and clunky filling up six times the shelf space of a DVD.  I remember that time.  I have tapes from that time.  I remember when we had "OnTV" and we paid some astonishing amount of money to see "Purple Rain" on the precursor to Pay-Per-View.  And I made a tape so I could watch the movie whenever I wanted.)  I still have that videotape.  Not like I've watched it since ... oh, since I made the tape, most likely.  But I made the tape.  And, apparently, couldn't bear to ever throw it out because, y'know, someday I might want to watch Prince back when we thought he was weird for calling himself "Prince."

I can't just toss these tapes.  (Well, ok, maybe that one.)  But I've found that, when you tape a lot of anything, it will turn out to have something that will be of interest to you years later.  I taped the 1987 Tony Awards because there was a performance from Les Miserables -- but fifteen years later, I found the real treasure to be a scene from the play "Coastal Disturbances" starring a very young Tim Daly and Annette Bening.  I taped all of "Twin Peaks" because, at the time, I needed it for reference to follow the damn show.  But, some years later, when "X-Files" was a big hit, I was able to call up the few episodes featuring David Duchovny as a transvestite.  And all those old figure skating competition tapes are great -- to see the early performances of people who have since hit it big.

Since I have a history of finding the stray treasure in these tapes, I am loathe to throw them out -- because I'm sure that a few weeks after I do, I'll have the overwhelming desire to revisit something in an old Dr. Who tape or something.  Even though I've gone at least ten years without even thinking about the fact I own it.

And because of this, the tapes have been happily sitting on my shelves untouched,  partially unindexed (like I'll ever have time for that project), and generally not causing any trouble.  But now that my shelves are nice and clean and freshly painted, it seems wrong to waste their space by just putting decades-old videos on them.

Dammit.  If I hadn't painted, I would have remained in blissful ignorance and/or denial of my Videotape Problem -- but now that I'm actively required to pick up the tapes and put them back on the shelf (or someplace else), I'm face to face with the fact that ... I've got an awful lot of big, clunky, out-of-date videotapes.  That I can't bear to get rid of.

Help me.  Please.

(And don't say I should get a box and put them in my closet.  Because that would mean ... no, no, it's too hideous to even contemplate ... cleaning out my closet.)

Friday, May 21, 2004

Ten ... and still counting

That's how many of them little toy mice we have found while moving various pieces of furniture in order to paint.  That's 2 under the sofabed, and a whopping 8 (lined up in the cutest little diagonal battern) under the couch in the living room.  And that's not counting the other gushy balls and feather-topped things that were excavated as well.  (One of the mice was missing its eyes, nose, and ears.  I was oddly proud of Jasmine's work.)

You may ask, "Gosh, NZ, why was all this stuff found under the couch?  I thought you were only painting the bedroom."  And you would be correct, as that's what the plan was.  But, y'know, you have a competent-and-reasonably-priced painter in your house with some extra time on his hands, the cat is already hibernating behind a closed door (and seemingly taking to her confinement remarkably well), and you think, "What the heck."  It isn't like it didn't need painting. 

Of course, there have been issues.  I wanted to get one of the living room walls done in dusty rose (which would look quite nice against the burgundy carpet I've been toying with).  I bought two quarts of the stuff, he slathered it on the wall and it looks ... like bubble gum.

I did not buy the wrong color.  I walked into another room and found a piece of dusty rose ribbon.  You'd all look at that ribbon and go, "Yep, that's dusty rose."  I held the ribbon up to the wall and the ribbon was the EXACT SAME COLOR as the paint on the wall.  It's just that it looks like dusty rose on the ribbon and looks like bubble gum on the wall.  Words to live by, kids -- dusty rose goes Bazooka on you in large quantities.

I have two alternatives here -- I can go back and buy a different color paint (ka-ching) or buy some glaze and the painter will do the wall in a rag-finish, which will tone done the overwhelming pinkness of the color (ka-ching, ka-ching).  I think I'll go with the latter, although the idea of me living in a home with an actual faux finish on a wall is too Martha Stewart for words.  I mean, part of me is still amazed I have matching bedroom furniture.  The idea of anything affirmatively decorative on my walls is mind-boggling.



Thursday, May 20, 2004

Homework -- Old Friends

I did this week's assignment early because I'm excited about it.  Our fearless leader asks:

Tell us about your best friend in second grade (or the grade closest to that in which you remember having a "best friend"). Where is he or she now? Do you still keep in touch?

Can do.

I lived in Maryland until fourth grade.  Growing up, my best friend was Jinny.  She lived down the street from me.

I loved going over to Jinny's house.  Her mother always had a pot of rice slow-cooking  which I thought was the coolest thing ever.  Especially because of all the things you could do with the sticky rice.  It made fairly serviceable paste, for instance.  (And you could eat it.  And it was OK!   Edible paste.  If that isn't the envy of second grade.)  And Jinny's dad would get these big piles of paper from work -- computer paper, that had white and green stripes on it and holes down the sides -- and we'd make all sorts of art projects with the rice-paste and the computer paper.

And Jinny was going to be a gymnast, so her father built her some gymnastics equipment in the basement.  There were uneven bars and a balance beam, and a "practice" balance beam that was just a piece of wood sitting right on the ground, so you didn't have very far to fall.  She let me try that out once or twice.  But I was just so impressed watching Jinny on the gymnastics equipment.  I didn't have a really neat-o talent at that age.  I think I'd just started taking piano lessons.

Like I said, I moved away after third grade.  We kept in touch by mail for awhile, but, as far as I remember, the last time I wrote her I must have been around 12.  We drifted apart, as kids do.

Spurred on by our homework assignment, I googled her name and found her instantly.  (And I knew it was her because she conveniently put up a web page that mentions the city where she grew up.)  She got a PhD in mechanical engineering and is now teaching at a university.  (Ironically, we did our undergraduate education at "rival" schools without ever knowing we were in the same area.)  Married.  Has two kids. 

I emailed her.  She wrote me back in less than a hour -- with a current phone number and a picture of her family!  (Is that cool or what?)  She also said she represented her school at the World University Games (in gymnastics), so it's nice to know big things came from the little gym her dad built in the basement. 

I didn't ask if she's still eating the paste.

The Spelling Nazi is Out

It's a little late.  I saw a show this evening and, putting on my theatre critic hat, wrote up the review immediately afterward. 

I normally do not do this.  For two reasons.

First, I generally like to think about the show for a day or so.  Let my initial impressions swirl around, let thoughts percolate to the surface, let sentences start writing themselves in my subconscious -- that sort of thing. 

Second, I find it difficult to write after midnight. 

The key word in that sentence is "write."  I don't find it difficult to think after midnight or to work after midnight.  In fact, it's kind of nice.  It's quiet and peaceful -- and there's something oddly comforting about the clicking of my keyboard being the only sound.  But the actual act of writing is a different story.  For some reason, the connection between the part of my brain in charge of spelling and my fingers just turns itself off at midnight.  Ditto Proofreading Central.  It is a wonder that anything resembling a complete sentence can make its way from my head to this screen after the clock strikes twelve.

For this reason, I've developed a simple rule when IMing friends:  There is no grading for spelling or punctuation after midnight.  If you stick an unnecessary apostrophe in "its" at 11:59, I'll mock you mercilessly -- but if you wait a minute, I won't touch it.  Heck, you can send me a softball like accidentally calling that Disney movie with Simba "The Loin King," and, if it's 12:01, I'll just assume you meant "Lion" and act like nothing happened.  After midnight, it's a free pass!

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

This is Why I Have a Cat

I am SO pissed off.  You know how I've been planning on repainting/recarpeting my bedroom, right? 

I figured out the colors I wanted, and tried to hire a painter.  (This because I am incompetent with a paintbrush.  I know my limits.  In college, my roommate and I repainted our bathroom.  Well, she repainted it.  At first, we were going to share the job.  Shortly thereafter, she decided she'd do all the walls and I could do the detail work -- corners, light switches and so forth.  About a half hour later, she said she'd do all the painting and my job was to go get her a Coke.)

Anyway:  Tried to hire a painter.  Here, in short outline form, is what happened:
- Tried calling the contractor who remodelled my kitchen to see if he could recommend someone.  He has sold the business to someone else.
- Called a painter I had previously used.  His phone just rang and rang.

- Asked friends for recommendations.
- Peggy recommended a guy but he was way far away.
- Gina recommended someone local.  I called Gina's painter.  I left a message.  A week went by and she didn't call me back.
- In the meantime (last Friday), I got a call that the carpet was in and they're ready to install.  They want to wait a week after I finish painting.  I make an appointment for next Wednesday.  I need to get painted by this Wednesday. 
- More friends recommend the Handyman Network.  I call them (last Friday).  I make an appointment.  They don't take appointments less than two business days in advance, so I take the next available appointment -- this Tuesday.
- Monday morning, Gina's painter calls me back.  I tell her thanks, but I've hired someone else.
- Monday morning, Jane comes to work with the recommendation of a great painter.  I say thanks, but I've hired someone else.
- Monday at 6:10 p.m., I call home to check my messages, and find a message from Handyman Network cancelling my painter for Tuesday, and asking me to call back to reschedule during business hours (which, of course, ended at 6:00.)

I hit all kinds of ceilings.  Since it's after 6:00, I can't get them on the phone.  (They left the message at ten to six -- and never bothered calling me on my cell.)  I have no idea when I'll be able to reschedule -- and whether I'll have to reschedule the carpet installers (not to mention the people who will install my new window shutter on Saturday).  I'm oozing fury.  Not satisfied with the ticked-off message I left on their answering machine, I followed up with a ticked-off email.

This morning, they called me back, apologized, and then told me the cheerful news that their soonest available appointment is Friday.  Eagle-eyed readers might note that this is ONE WEEK after I had originally called them.  I suggest that Friday is absolutely unacceptable (since the shutter is being installed the next day).  They said they'd try to get someone for Thursday, and would call me back later today.

I was Ms. Grumpypants all morning.  People walked into my office, took one look at me, and backed away slowly.  My boss invited me to lunch on condition I "don't talk about painters."

A friend called me on the phone.  He politely asked how I was doing.  I said, dangerously, "Go ahead.  Ask me about the guy who is supposed to be painting my bedroom right now.  Go on, ask."  He said, instead, "How's Jasmine?  How's her cute little furry paws?"

And I said, "She so cuuuuuuuute," and just melted.

And this is why I have a cat.

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Monday, May 17, 2004

Two Degrees of Brushes With Fame

Yes, I know, we've finished with the whole Brushes With Fame thing.  And yet, I heard a story today that was the most perfect Brush With Fame, I just have to share it.

I was at a "celebration of life/memorial service" for a theatre critic who had recently passed away.  People were taking turns at the microphone telling stories (some sad, most funny) about the deceased.  One told a story about how, about a zillion years ago, Tom walked into a bathroom and heard the sounds of someone not, er, feeling very well.  Tom called out to the man and asked if he was ok and if there was anything he (Tom) could do to help.  The man asked if Tom would hold his hair while he threw up.  Tom, of course, agreed.  The man?  Errol Flynn.

Beat that.

Happy Equal Protection Day!

Massachusetts starts allowing homosexual marriages on the 50th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education.  Call me a sentimental fool, but I find something particularly charming about the whole thing.  Let’s see … fifty years to the day after a court says, “separate but equal” doesn’t work when you’re talking about education, we’ve got a State giving effect to its own court decision that “separate but equal” doesn’t work when you’re talking about marriage, either.  Score one for Equal Protection.


I also note that, although news sometimes travels a little slow to California, I do believe that life as we know it has not come to an end in Massachusetts, nor have the married heterosexuals in that State experienced a sudden devaluing of their own unions.  Nope.  Looks like things are pretty much proceeding business as usual, despite the dire warnings of protesters.  Much like how desegregation did not bring an end to education,  come to think of it.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Homework: Brushes With Fame

This week, John Scalzi asks us:

>>Recount your most memorable encounter with celebrity. If you haven't met anyone famous and don't know anyone who has, here's an alternate assignment: Reveal your first celebrity crush (and of course, for extra credit, do both).<<

I could have sworn I'd already written about my brushes with greatness -- but I skimmed my older entries and couldn't find it, so I'll write it up (perhaps for the second time). 

As I mentioned in the entry just below, I am something of a theatre person.  Because of that, I've had a lot of encounters with theatre-type celebrities.  It's the nature of the beast -- you can see a movie thousands of miles away from anyone associated with it, but when you see a play, you're breathing the same air as the cast and crew.  I've been joked with by actors onstage during plays; I've taken part in talk-backs; I've gotten autographs at stage doors; I've done interviews for fan clubs; and I was engaged in popcorn fight as part of a show.  In addition: I've gotten a music recommendation from ice dancer Christopher Dean; my dad got me Mr. T's autograph (twice in the same day); and Larry Gatlin called me beautiful (and I beamed for hours).

That said, my most memorable celebrity encounter has nothing to do with that.  I had just moved to Philadelphia.  I had a small apartment and was walking the three blocks away to a nearby shopping mall to buy some basics I'd need for my first night (I believe "lamp" was on the top of the list).  Across the street, some guy had set up a keyboard and was playing music on the corner.  He was good, but I didn't really pay much attention to him.  While I was waiting for the light to change, a stranger who was waiting with me said, "Do you know who that is?"  "No," I replied.  "That's BeBe Winans!" he said.  He added, "I'm sorry to bother you.  I was just so excited, I had to share it with someone."

It was the first encounter I'd had with a Philadelphia local, and it made me think that maybe there was something to the whole "City of Brotherly Love" thing.  Living in the center of a city, I'd expected to be accosted by strangers asking for money -- I'd never expected the first stranger I'd met to just want to share a moment of joy with me.  So, thanks, BeBe, for indirectly welcoming me to Philadelphia.

Extra Credit:  First celebrity crush -- Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock.  Brains is sexy, people.

It didn't suck!

Gave in and saw Van Helsing today.  Given how badly it was reviewed (check out rottentomatoes), I expected a serious dog.

So, why did I go?  Well, mostly because I'm a "theatre person," and -- although it isn't considered a huge selling point -- this movie is chock full of theatre people.  (Sure, there's Jackman himself, who is currently on Broadway in The Boy From Oz.  But there's also Shuler Hensley, who was in Oklahoma in London opposite Jackman.  And Will Kemp, an amazingly dancer over whose performances I have repeatedly drooled.)  So, yeah, I would be all over this thing like white on rice no matter how bad the reviews. 

The reviews did, however, succeed in lowering my expectations.  I was expecting this to be League of Extraordinary Gentlemen bad, and it wasn't even in the same ... well ... league.  Since I was expecting so little, I genuinely enjoyed how much more I got.

Well, up until the ending.  Could someone please send a memo to Hollywood that having two obviously-CGI characters battle each other is not something an audience can get involved in.  AND the battle took rather longer than it was allowed to -- if it was going to be true to the script.  AND the final, final scene was ... well, it didn't work in [the old movie it made me think of] and it didn't work here either.

Although, I gotta give the shot credit for making me think of the earlier picture.  One of the most fun things about Van Helsing was how much it quoted/paid tribute to earlier movies.  It wasn't like I was sitting there playing "spot the reference" or anything -- it's just that the references were so clear, I would see an image and immediately the other picture would pop immediately into my head.  And not just old Universal Horror films.  I certainly had an Alien moment, as well as a Matrix one.  There was something adorably entertaining about the way this movie brought to mind so many others.

And, yes, there was a lot about the (and I use the word loosely) "plot" that I really didn't approve of.  I mean, there are certain rules for how one disposes of a vampire -- and the way this movie answered the question was not only somewhat non-traditional, but downright ridiculous.  It is a silly concept to which I am totally opposed.  And yet, I forgave it because of the places it allowed the movie to go.  So, yes, it was a stupid idea -- but, ultimately, I think the good things it enabled them to put in the movie were worth the price.

All things considered, I thought it was a totally acceptable way to open the summer movie season.

And besides -- Hugh Jackman and Will Kemp shirtless.  :::sigh:::

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The Word of the Day is ...


OK, so this morning, the stupid new morning show DJ decided to focus on this bill pending in the California Legislature.  The idea of the bill is that teenagers should be able to vote, too.  The bill would allow anyone 14 or older to vote -- but voters aged 14 and 15 would only get 1/4 of a vote, and voters 16 and 17 would only get 1/2 of a vote.  The sponsoring Senator called it "training wheels for citizenship."

I don't think it's a completely ludicrous idea.  At least the bit about 16- and 17-year-olds.  I remember being 16 during an election year and getting all riled up about it.  I pored over my mother's sample ballot and decided how I would have voted if I'd had the opportunity.  By the time I was actually able to vote in a Presidential election, I was 20 and the whole thing seemed sort of anti-climactic.  The idea of getting kids in the voting booth when they're still excited about taking part in the political process is a good one to me.

Not so for New Morning DJ and his callers.  One after another, they called in and said that 14-year-olds are too young and stupid to be able to vote.  One woman called in and said she worked with 14- to 18-year-olds and none of them have the brains to justify giving them the vote.  (Um, newsflash for you, ma'am: the 18-year-olds can vote already.)  And then she went on to say, "They don't even know the first thing about California government.  They don't know the difference between the Senators and the ... " and there's this uncomfortable pause, during which the entire radio audience realizes that this bozo (who gets a full vote, same as the rest of us) doesn't know the other chamber of the state legislature is the Assembly

This is a test. I'm trying to update my journal from my new cell phone. The typing on this thing isn't convenient for long messages, but if this works I will be SO geeked out.
This is a test. I'm trying to update my journal from my new cell phone. The typing on this thing isn't convenient for long messages, but if this works I will be SO geeked out.

EDITED (from a PC) to add:  Ah.  I think I have to very careful with that "Back" button.  :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Somewhat Less Entertaining

I don't want to make light of a serious situation, or make a light one seem more significant -- but, given recent events, I'm finding the current plotline on 24 to be, well, not very entertaining.

Let's review:  There's this Bad Guy.  Who has an evil bio-engineered virus that kills people really quickly.  It's an ugly, painful death -- and there's apparently no known antidote for the virus.  (But if you ask nice, maybe someone will give you a suicide pill to save on the suffering.)  So, the Bad Guy releases the virus in a hotel, killing hundreds of people.

Now there's the Good Guy (played by Kiefer Sutherland).  Kiefer works for some anti-terrorist government agency.  (Of our government.)  He wants to stop the Bad Guy.

Many satellite searches, phone traces and botched capture attempts later, Kiefer figures he'll force the Bad Guy to do what he wants by threatening to hurt the Bad Guy's daughter.  He captures her, convinces her that her dad is evil incarnate, and generally gets her to go along with his plan.

I am, at this point, somewhat opposed to Kiefer's behavior -- as I don't really think chloroforming the Bad Guy's daughter and holding her against her will is something the constitution approves of.  But, y'know, this is TV, so they're entitled to a little suspension of disbelief.  Besides, Kiefer does, eventually, convince the daughter to go along with him of her own free will, which makes me feel a little better about the whole scenario.

Of course, I am less happy every time Kiefer gets on the phone with Bad Guy and says, "I'll kill her; you know I will." 

Now, at the end of last night's episode, Kiefer arrests the Bad Guy.  (Hooray!)  But the game isn't over yet, because the Bad Guy refuses to tell Kiefer where the rest of his little Virus Bombs are -- and those puppies can go off and infect lots and lots of people.

So, they show a preview of the scenes from the next episode.  Kiefer is trying really hard to get the Bad Guy to tell him where the rest of the Virus Bombs are.  Really hard.  We see a clip of a scene where Kiefer has his men push Bad Guy's daughter toward the door of the infected hotel.  The girl is screaming in terror and fighting to get away from them -- meantime, Kiefer is all, "C'mon, Bad Guy, you're out of time -- tell me what I want to know."

I feel a little ill watching this.  Not the same degree of ill I feel when watching pictures of American soldiers torture Iraqi prisoners -- because this is just television and that's real.  But because of the latter, I do feel a level of disquiet at the former.  I mean, am I supposed to be cheering for Kiefer -- a character who, in order to obtain information necessary to save American lives from an anticipated terror attack -- kidnaps someone's completely innocent daughter and threatens her with a gruesome death?  Am I supposed to think this is an acceptable interrogation technique?  That, given the necessity of obtaining immediate information from Bad Guy, all ethical and legal rules go out the window just this once?

And then I start to think there might be a little truth in the argument that the soldiers implicated in the Abu Ghraib abuse might really have believed that what they were doing was OK -- because it seems that, time and time again, our Hollywood versions of law enforcement heroes are always willing to bend the rules a little, in service of a good cause.  When we constantly celebrate "end justifies the means" behavior, how can we seriously expect to convince people that inappropriate means are inappropriate, no matter what?

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

My Favorite Things

Was playing with Jasmine today and realized, with all due respect to Rodgers & Hammerstein, that it is not, in fact, the whiskers on kittens that I find so adorable.  It is, instead, the little pink paws.

And then I realized that the whole song could do with a little ... update.  (I kid.)  So, this is what I sang to Jasmine tonight:

"New breeds of roses
And pink paws on kittens
Calphalon kettles
And thinsulate mittens
Overnight parcels the FedEx guy brings
These are a few of my favorite things"

Monday, May 10, 2004

In the Gym Parking Lot

Went to the gym today.  Must be my fourth Monday in a row.  I think I like going to gym on Mondays.  I need to schedule it or I won't go -- and Monday is a good "get it out of the way before enjoying the rest of the week" day.

There's a large parking lot in front of the gym.  Lots of spaces.  There's actually a small little wing of the lot DIRECTLY in front of the gym, but since the gym is in an office building of some sort, they prefer that we don't park there and instead leave that area for people using the office building.

People break this rule all the time.  I don't, but I don't really mind that they do.

Tonight, while I was walking to the gym from my spot (not particularly far away at all), I saw a car driving into the area in front of the gym.  There weren't any available spaces in that section, so the driver was just waiting there.  Then, out of nowhere, this other car comes screeching by, goes around the waiting car, and slams on into a Disabled Parking Space.

The car has no Disabled plates.  As the (apparently) able-bodied driver leaps out of the car and jogs into the gym, I check for a Disabled placard.  None of them either.

I am really ticked.   

Now, let me be really clear here.  I've driven with friends who use wheelchairs.  And, once, when my passenger forgot to bring the placard, I didn't park in the disabled spot.  (Even when it would have been clear to everyone that my passenger, y'know, had a right to be using that spot.)  Because it would have been illegal to do so.  And, knowing my luck, I'd get towed or ticketed or something.  So when someone without an apparent disability uses the spot, and has no plates or placard, it really roasts my cookies.

What was this dude thinking?  Clearly the threat of being ticketed or towed didn't deter him.  Clearly the thought he was doing something illegal didn't bother him.  Clearly he didn't seem to care that he might have been keeping the spot from someone who genuinely needed it.  (Did he think nobody in a wheelchair would want to use the gym anyway?  Um, no.  Disability isn't restricted to wheelchairs.  I'm sure there's plenty of folks who might have a mobility impairment but might do a little treadmill time for physical therapy.  Not to mention wheelchair athletes who can pump iron with the best of them.) 

And when you think about it, Mr. Able Bodied is here going to the gym for cryin' out loud.  You'd think walking a hundred feet or so from the car to the door would be, y'know, a bonus workout.  A warm-up, as it were. 

I go in the gym.  I do my workout.  I leave.  On the way out, I decide to take a closer look at his dashboard -- maybe I missed a hiding placard.

The car is gone.  In its place -- still in the disabled spot -- another vehicle.  No plates, no placard.


Sunday, May 9, 2004

Hypocrite, Table for One

Yeah, OK, I watch Survivor.

(Insert certain people laughing at the understatement in that sentence.)

I mean, I really watch Survivor.  Talk about it on message boards.  Try to predict who is going to win.  Was fairly disappointed nobody called me on my cell phone at 7:00 Pacific Time to tell me who won.  (My East Coast Survivor Homies apparently let me down.  And yes, that's probably the first and last time I've used the word "homies.")

So, I watched the Great Big Finale with the Great Big Reveal and it turns out America gets to vote for who gets a (second) million bucks.  Nice.  Not exactly the reveal I was hoping for, but mildly entertaining nonetheless.

(In case you're curious, the reveal I was hoping for is that Boston Rob would drop the Robfather accent, start instead talking like Charles Emerson Winchester the Third, and tell us it was all an act.)

So, OK, I'm happy to exercise my right to vote and see in whose favor I'd like to toss a cool mill.  I do, actually, consider all 18 of them, and come up with various reasons to disregard most of them.  (They might not be particularly good reasons, but they're reasons nonetheless.)  And now, let me run through some of them.  Let's see if you can spot the flaw in my reasoning process:

- Amber -- No.  She's already got a million.
- Rob -- No.  He was unnecessarily nasty in confessionals and he'll already have a million (via community property).
- Sue -- No.  Quit.
- Jenna M. -- No.  Quit, and has a million anyhow.
- Jerri -- No.  Quit the reunion show.
- Rupert -- No.  He blew it in the first episode, by aligning with Jenna & Jerri rather than Tina and Ethan
- Shii Ann -- No.  She promised us "She-Devil" behavior but ended up wussing out at Tribal Council.
- Alicia -- No.  She was offered a chance to boot Rob/Amber and refused it.
- Lex -- No.  Still doesn't see what a hypocrite he was.
- Kathy -- No.  After all that anger, she gave in and voted for Rob anyway for "friendship."
- Jenna L. -- No.  She pissed me off when she said at the start she wouldn't vote to give the million to any previous winner, regardless of how they played the ga--




Friday, May 7, 2004

Homework -- Memorable Birthday Presents

I don't know about you guys, but I like that Scalzi posts the weekend homework on Thursdays.  Gives me a day or so to think about it in advance.  Maybe the rest of you have memories at your fingertips or something, but I had to cull through a lot of gift memories before I settled on these.

Weekend Assignment #4: Share the most memorable birthday present you've ever gotten -- or given (extra credit for both).

Most memorable present I've ever gotten was a gift from an online friend (who does not read this journal).  She sent me a coffee mug and some gourmet coffee.  She didn't know I don't drink coffee.  Hate the smell of the stuff.  None of my friends ever offer me coffee and most ask if I mind if they're going to drink it -- like I'm gonna get sick from second-hand-java or something.  So, anyway, this very sweet internet friend knows nothing about this and sends me coffee.  And she's very young, and very unemployed, and I'm really touched that she went to the effort and expense, even though the coffee itself was, um, destined to be regifted at the soonest opportunity.  I've met her in person several times since, and every time, I've always made sure my family members or friends with me pretended I didn't hate coffee, so as not to let her know I didn't actually use the gift.  So, yeah, the gift that spawned a five-year lie -- it's pretty memorable.

Most memorable gift I've given was actually a Mother's Day gift rather than a birthday gift, but since it is Mother's Day weekend, I'll tell it anyway.  Rewind to me being about 12 years old.  My parents had tickets to see a musical -- they were going with some other couple.  I thought this was totally unfair -- my dad didn't like musicals at all (he was quoted as saying the highest praise he could show a musical was staying awake through it) whereas I loved them.  There didn't seem to be much of a point in him seeing a musical with mom rather than me seeing it with her.  (I, of course, ignored the fact that, being 12, I probably wasn't an ideal companion from their friends' point of view.)  So, the day of the show rolls around and mom gets sick -- guess which 12 year old ends up going as dad's date.  Right.  I went, I saw the show, I had a blast (dad even stayed awake).  And when I got home, I felt a little guilty about it.  'cause, I mean, I had really wanted to go see the show, and the Fates arranged it so I could, but mom had to miss it (and deal with getting the flu, besides) so the whole thing seemed not quite right.  Mother's Day was coming up, and the show was still running, so I counted up all my babysitting money and bought a pair of tickets.  (I had to enlist one of mom's friends to help, so that she could order the tickets on her credit card.)  I gave 'em to mom -- requesting, of course, to be her date.  So she and I ended up seeing the show together after all (like we were supposed to) and it began a tradition of us buying theatre tickets for each other that continued (as it happens) to this day.

Thursday, May 6, 2004

It's a Great Time to Be Alive

Is it just me, or does anyone else think it's too cute for words that the internet archive (at is called the Wayback Machine?  Or that Altavista's translator is called Babel Fish?

It warms my heart to see real technologies approximating the silly, comic science fiction inventions of my youth.

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

But It's *My* Money

If there's anything that twists my panties it's when I have to pay to use my own money.

Once upon a time I opened checking and savings accounts with Big National Bank.  I had a really nice relationship with Big National Bank -- I sent them my paycheck via direct deposit and they didn't charge me any fees.  The one downside to Big National Bank was that they didn't have a whole lot of branches.  So, to get my money, I'd frequently have to use ATMs from other banks.  This was not a problem as nobody charged me for it.

The building where I work has a bank in the lobby.  I'd make all my withdrawals from the ATM belonging to this bank.  (Not to give away the story or anything, but we'll call them Moneygrubbing Bank.)  All went well until Moneygrubbing Bank decided to impose a $1.50 service charge every time you made a withdrawal from the ATM with a card belonging to some other bank. 

So, I went to Moneygrubbing Bank and opened an account.  Not a huge account or anything.  Just a little savings account.  My plan was to deposit the occasional check in there (so there'd be, y'know, funds) and just use it for ATM withdrawals for those few bucks you need to get through the day.  All went well.  For years, I had access to my money without paying for it.

Great big surprise, then, when I got my statement from Moneygrubbing Bank with a whopping $7 ATM fee on it.

I called the bank and inquired.  This is, I was a told, a new monthly fee for the privilege of using an ATM card.  "Do you use the ATM card?" they asked.  Why yes, yes I do.  That's why I opened the account, you know.  To use the ATM in the lobby without getting charged.  "Is there any way," I asked, "to keep the ATM card without paying for it?"  (I wasn't averse, for instance, to the idea of closing my accounts at Big National Bank and bringing all my banking business to Moneygrubbing Bank -- if they wanted me to have direct deposit or something in order to waive the fee.)

"Well," they said, "You can open up a checking account.  Then we'd give you a Visa Check Card which you can also use as an ATM card."

Hmmm.  I don't want a checking account.  I certainly don't want a Visa Check Card (indeed, when Big National Bank had tried to "upgrade" my ATM card to a Check Card, I refused, and they politely cancelled it and kept me with an ATM card -- I do not WANT things that can debit money out of my account hanging around if I will never use them).  So this seemed like an awful lot of hoops to jump through just to keep free ATM access.  (Not to mention that I'm sure checks didn't come free.)  I explained this to the nice lady on the phone.  She said that was the only alternative.  I said I would be coming down today to close my account.

I mean really.  I could put all my money back in Big National Bank, use Big National Bank's ATM card in Moneygrubbing Bank's ATM once a week, and still end up paying less than the $7 fee.  There was absolutely no point in keeping this account open if I was going to be charged $84 a year for the privilege of using the freakin' ATM.

There's a bank across the street from my office -- in the same building that houses my parking garage.  We'll call them Across the Street Bank.  I went online to and looked up whether they had a savings account with a free ATM card.  Why yes, they did.  They had about six different such accounts.  The simplest one required a minimum balance of $300.  This I could handle.

I went downstairs to Moneygrubbing Bank, stood in line, and asked to close my account.  The teller asked why -- I said the ATM fee.  She said (I love this) that I could just stop using the ATM and conduct all my business inside the branch (or one of their many other branches in the Los Angeles area).  "And wait in line every time I want forty bucks?" says I.  "But it won't be a long wait now that we have four tellers," she replies.  I look to each side.  Sure enough, four teller windows.  (Only two had tellers at them, though, so I'm not really sure of the point she was making.)  "Yes," I retort, "but the lines will be longer now that nobody's going to be using the ATM anymore."

She then tells me that no banks are issuing ATM cards anymore -- that everyone is switching to the debit cards -- and that they hadto impose the fee if you're going to just have an ATM card.  She added that all other financial institutions are doing it.  (Oh really?)  I said, "Yeah, but they'll waive the fee if you have a minimum balance."  Silence.  I repeat that I'd like to close my account.  She gives me the account closure form. 

I fill out the form ("Why are you closing the account?" "$7 ATM FEE!!!!"), receive the balance of my savings account in a nice pretty check, take it to Across the Street Bank, and open up a new savings account.  With no fees at all.  And a brand new ATM card.  And (as the nice lady who opened my account gleefully pointed out) an interest rate more than twice what Moneygrubbing Bank was paying me.


Tuesday, May 4, 2004

What's my game?

Jack (new computer) came with Spider Solitaire.  I started playing it sometime last week.  I really sucked at first, but I'm getting better -- to the point where I'm winning games at the "medium" level more often than not.

Thing is, it's wreaking havoc with my FreeCell abilities -- which used to rock, if I do say so myself. 

What's funny about my Spider Solitaire playing is that I can't really say how or why it is getting better.  I'm not sure what game playing techniques I've figured out that I hadn't known before.  Only that I'm getting rather better at getting into the zen of the game, and sort of feeling which cards go where.

And since Spider Solitaire zen is rather different from FreeCell zen, I'm finding myself having trouble with FreeCell.  The other day, I opened a game of FreeCell and just stared at the screen, instead of having my usual instant feeling as to which opening strategy would best defeat the game. 

Troubling.  I'd like to master Spider without losing FreeCell, but it seems I've only got room in my head to store one solitaire card game's strategy.

I'm trying to switch off -- playing a hand or two of each game each day, in the hopes of retaining skill at both.  Maybe I can expand the "Solitaire Card Game Strategy Storage Section" of my brain.  Then again, perhaps I should be concerned at what that expansion might be at the expense of.  Maybe next week, I'll find I have a total inability to play Monopoly or something.

How Hot Is It?

It was so hot yesterday I couldn't get in my front door.

I'm serious. 

I'm sure this has something to do with things expanding in the heat or some such other thing I should've been paying more attention to in Physics class -- but the bottom line is:  when it gets particularly toasty, the deadbolt freezes (ironic choice of word) in the locked position.

Yesterday, the deadbolt was so enthusiastic about staying in the locked position, I had to set down everything I was carrying so I could use both hands to apply force to the key.  And I was pushing so hard on that thing, I thought it fairly likely that the key would snap in two.

(It works in reverse, too.  Once I got inside, I couldn't then lock the door without throwing the full weight of my body against it.)

This isn't normal, is it?

Monday, May 3, 2004

Spring Cleaning!

Last night, I decided to clean out my closet.

(I really ought to make these decisions before 11:30 p.m. in the future.)

But hey, I was motivated, and you don't want to let that rare closet-cleaning motivation get away when it happens to strike.

(Because USUALLY what happens is I'll want to clean something, and then realize that to clean that, I'll just be moving stuff from there to someplace ELSE, so the other place has to get cleaned, and I'll come up with this whole domino list of things that have to be cleaned, and I'll end up deciding I'd rather pop some popcorn and watch a DVD and start on the cleaning bright and early NEXT weekend.)

So, last night:  closet.  I did the dresser too, for good measure, since it was all about the clothes.

I finished with the throwing out, but not so much the reorganizing.  (I have 3/4 of my T-shirts in the closet and 1/4 in the dresser.  I need to make a decision on where the T-shirt Department ought to be.)  But seeing as it was around 2:00 a.m., it didn't seem like time to embark on that final step.  I can do that tonight.  (Although I'm sure I'll procrastinate about it till at least midnight.)

ANYWAY, what was notable about this particular closet cleaning out was that, unlike most earlier cleanings, this one was fairly ruthless in terms of FASHION.

Most -- if not all -- of my prior closet cleanings have focussed on whether the clothes were too worn to actually be placed on a human body in public or (sadly) whether my particular human body had outgrown said clothes in some important dimension (generally speaking:  the hips).

But last night, it was all about looks.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still the sort of person who is likely to get cited by the Fashion Police.  It isn't like I'm looking at my wardrobe and tossing things because they are "like SO last year."  No, no, no.  I was tossing stuff because I'd been watching Nick-at-Nite, and saw Vanessa wearing the same thing in a Cosby Show rerun.  Seriously, I threw out some clothes that I bought in college.  (If anyone is keeping score, I graduated college in 1988.)  The guiding principle was this:  Yesterday it was about 100 degrees outside, so I could safely say winter was over.  Given that, if there were any "winter" wardrobe items in my closet that I didn't wear even ONCE over the past season (or thought about wearing but said, "Oh no!  Anything but THAT"), it was time to send said items off to Tax Deduction Land (i.e. Goodwill).

It was hard -- particularly the stuff that was still in dry cleaner bags. (Why?  Why did I pay to have that cleaned if I was never ever going to wear it again?)  But it had to be done, and now I have three Tall Kitchen Garbage Bags full of clothes that were just taking up space.

(Taking up VALUABLE space.  One of the nice things about cleaning the closet was I found a sweater I liked which I'd thought had gone AWOL on me.  So it was good to get rid of the old 80s relics that had been blocking my view of the rather nicer turn-of-the-millenium relics.)  There was one item I very nearly kept, thinking that someday I might know a kid who needs to dress up for "80s Day" at school and would be the envy of all her friends if she wore this dress.  Complete with little white socks with lace around the ankles (to be worn over tights, of course.  With heels.  Just like in the ZZ-Top video.)  But I eventually tossed it.  No kid is gonna mock my generation wearing clothes I actually WORE.

The good news is:  I won't be wearing them anymore either.

Sunday, May 2, 2004

50 questions! Ack!

Anna has one of those get-to-know-you surveys up at her journal (which might have gone private now, in which case, best of luck with that link)

ANYWAY, she asks that we answer these questions.  Like I can just DASH off 50 answers at 1:10 in the morning.  Well, let's give it a go, eh?

1. What year was the best year of your life?  I can't give you a best year.  I can probably give you a best summer, which was 19..eighty-something.  Remember back at the second-favorites thing when I said I liked being asked my second-favorite play 'cause my first favorite is so much better than everything else, there's just no point?  Well, there was one summer when I sorta saw my favorite play, um, four times.  I don't think I'll ever forget that.

2. One animal or insect that Noah should have left off the ark?  I was gonna say spiders, but they dispose of other insects.  And I have a problem with bees, but they make with the pollenation and all that.  Um, is any useful purpose served by snakes?  I could probably get along well without them.

3. Do you make a wish before blowing out your birthday candles?  Yes.  Although it is generally for something small that is likely to come true.  I wouldn't want to make it difficult for the Birthday Fates.

4. Do you generally open your bills on the day that you receive them?  The credit card and cell phone bills, yes.  I do a quick "fraud check" to make sure there aren't any charges that shouldn't be there.

5. How many pillows are on your bed?  Three.  I only use one.

6. Favorite ice cream flavor?  It varies by season.  It's summer(ish) now, so generally something berry.  Raspberry, if they've got it.  (Just had sweet cream with raspberries mixed in.  YUM.)

7. What is the most dominant color in your wardrobe?   Probably black.  Most of my trousers are black, certainly.  Unless denim counts.  Denim might be ahead of black.

8. Have you ever seen a ghost?   Not to my knowledge.

9. Would you rather go to a carnival or circus?  Circus.  Especially them arty Cirque du Soleil types.

10. Favorite meal: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?  Dinner.

11. Your favorite fictional animal?  I loved unicorns when I was a kid.  (Wasn't it mandatory in junior high?  To love unicorns and rainbows and write big hearts all over your notebooks?)

12. Have you ever flown first-class?  Yes.  Cool.

13. Would you go on a reality show?  No.  Not out of any fundamental opposition to them -- just that I wouldn't be any good at them.  And I wouldn't want to take the time off work.

14. Are you more optimistic or pessimistic about the future?   Optimistic.  But I knock on wood when I say that.

15. Pancakes or waffles?   Pancakes for breakfast.  Waffles (with ice cream and strawberries) for dessert.

16. If you could own a home anywhere in the world, where would it be?  I wouldn't mind a flat in London. 

17. Your favorite Soup of the Day?  Chicken noodle.

18. What site is a must see for all visitors to your city?  Dude, I live in Pasadena.  Dropby on January 1 -- we have a little shindig.

19. Can you recommend a good restaurant in your city?  Probably, if really pressed, and you tell me the sort of food you want.

20. You go to the zoo; What is the one animal that you want to see?  The koala marsupials.  I love the koalas.

21. Potatoes, rice, or pasta; Which is your favorite?  Po-ta-toes.  [/Sean Astin]

22. What is the best movie that you've seen this year?  This year?  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

23. One of your favorite books when you were a child?   Peppermint.  It was about this kitten, and an unfortunate (but ultimately harmless) laundry accident.  Come to think of it, it was probably also about accepting people who might look different -- but I just thought it was a great story about a blue kitten.

24. What in your life are you most grateful for?  Everything.  I can't itemize. 

25. You are home alone and use the bathroom; do you close the door?   No.  Well, due to the architecture of my condo, you can see straight into the bathroom (from outside) if I have the window open in my bedroom.  So if that window is open, I will close the bathroom door.

26. What is your favorite small appliance?  Does the computer count?

27. Salty snacks or sweet treats?   Salty snacks!

28. Are you usually a little early, a little late, or right on time?   Late.

29. What is the most daring thing that you have ever done?   Canyon Swing.

30. Have you ever met someone famous?  Yes.  And I'm not that good at it.  I've had some opportunities to interview theatre actors -- and no matter how hard I try to be all professional interviewer on the outside, inside I'm just a giggling fangirl.

31. What was one of your favorite games as a child?  Hmmm.  Dunno.  All I can think of are games I didn't like.  Hated Candyland.  Hated Chutes & Ladders.  Oh, I liked "Payday."  'cause it had that plastic version of the credit card machine and you got to run it back and forth over cards -- that was neato.

32. At what age have you looked your best?  It's not an AGE thing -- it varies more ... daily. 

33. One person that never fails to make you laugh?  My friend Mary.  That girl.

34. What was the first music that you ever bought?  We used to buy 45s at Waxie Maxie's.  I'm not sure the actual first one I bought, but I know "The Entertainer" was one of my earliest purchases.  (Can't say I've been a big listener of piano rags since, but still.)

35. If you could change one thing about your family life when you were a child, what would it be?  Mom, I love you, but I really hated the yellow bedroom walls.

36. What is the one thing that you cook that always receives compliments?  Fruit salad.  Weird, I know.  But I'm not much of a cook and everyone knows it.  So when a friend was having a potluck dinner, I volunteered to do a fruit salad, figuring that chopping fruit with a big knife was something I could handle.  I've done it three or four times now, and it actually has something of a reputation -- probably because I spenda bit of money on getting the best fruit, and I chop it up real good so you don't have any seeds or rinds.  Takes hours, but it does get compliments.

37. From what news source do you receive the bulk of your news?  The internet and the radio.

38. In the last calendar year, how many people have you told that you love them?   Probably under a dozen.  I don't throw around the L-word lightly.

39. Who received your first kiss?  Alan -- the boy next door.  (Well, two houses up.)

40. The single most important quality in a mate?  Honesty.

41. What do you value most in a relationship?   Partnership.

42. Do you believe that you have a soulmate?  Jasmine!  Um, seriously, dunno.  It'd be nice.

43. Do you consider yourself well organized?   I am, sure.  My house is another story.

44. On average, how many times a day do you look at yourself in the mirror?  Gotta be 5 or 6, what with all those mirrors in the bathrooms.

45. Did you ever make a prank phone call?   Not a very good one.  I tried one once, and it was kinda stupid, and the woman we called just hung up.

46. What one quality do you seek in a friend?  Probably brains.  I'm not good with stupid people.

47. Have you ever killed an animal?  Only insects, I think.  Well, I never did find out what happened to the rat; I hope he's dead. 

48. When you were twelve years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?  By 12, I'm fairly sure I knew I was going to be a lawyer.  I did, however, want to be a prosecutor.

49. Do you believe in an afterlife?  No.  Yes.  Maybe. 

50. What would you like to accomplish with the remaining years of your life?  More of the same, I expect.  I don't feel like I have any unfinished business that I need to accomplish in order for my life to be complete.  Sure, there are opportunities that present themselves along the way, and I hope to meet them and accomplish all sorts of stuff between now and when I check out.  But I don't have a great big To-Do list with lots of unchecked items.

And... 1:46.  43.2 seconds per question.  Whew.