Friday, February 27, 2009

Don't worry

Given my fragile emotional state this week (Hyperbole Alert: I'm just bitchy, is all) I figured it would take something just right to coax myself into a Fridays Rock! state of mind.

As usual, I need, and my favorite radio station provides.

Don't Worry Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin

The Czech subtitles certainly don't hurt.

I remember being powerfully sick of this tune at one point, but today, somehow, it seems just right. Can't say it's magically lifted my mood, but it might just stop me from throwing things and/or eating the entire sleeve of Fig Newtons* in my desk drawer.

Hope it works for you, too.

* Don't judge me! They're whole wheat Fig Newtons. So there.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

An exercise in...

Well, I can't think of a single entertaining thing to write about other than my bad mood, but I'm feeling merciful so I'll spare you that. Instead, I'll post this week's writing exercise for your perusal.

The goal was to describe the main character from the point of view of someone who doesn't know him/her.
Gary stood in the coffee shop, gingerly shifting the scalding cup from hand to hand, scanning the room for a place to sit. He hated being there when the place was full. He generally avoided the lunchtime crowd, but it was raining like the end of days outside and his truck was in the shop. He was going nowhere for at least an hour.

As usual, most of the seats were occupied by kids from the college, clustered around tables littered with books, papers, and snacks. The noise level was high; too high.

Irritated, he scoured the tables for someone near his own age, another lone grown-up who wouldn't mind sharing a table for a bit. If he was lucky it would be another introvert and he wouldn't have to pay for his seat with awkward conversation.

He peered around the corner of the counter. Way in the back, a woman sat alone, hunched over the teeny table crammed in between the restroom doors. Not the most elegant spot, but there was an open seat across from her. He headed for the table, assessing the risk of chit-chat.

Like himself, she appeared to be middle-aged, of unremarkable height or weight, with pale skin indicative of northern European ancestry. She was dressed in what he recognized as 'absent-minded-professor casual'; an awkwardly-fitting gray skirt and white, oddly-ruffled blouse with a gigantic fuzzy cardigan over her shoulders. A glance under the table revealed beat-up clogs with colorful socks just visible out the back. Surprised, he chuckled. He wasn't the only one who didn't dress for success today.

Her straight, shoulder-length, salt-and-pepper hair was pulled back haphazardly into a sloppy ponytail. He couldn't get a good look at her face, but she was wearing glasses, and thick ones at that. She hunched over her book with the posture of someone who often hunched over books. She seemed to be the sort who counted on being mostly invisible in social settings.

Just like him.

Pleased by the prospect of a quiet hour, he slowly approached.

Not sure if Gary the dairy farmer will make the cut, but it was a fun exercise. I'm half tempted to keep him as a potential romantic interest, as long as I don't have to write any of those scenes, IYKWIM.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Monday? What Monday?

I tried pretending Monday didn't exist in hopes it would pass more easily (rather like a large stool) but it didn't. Instead I just felt bad that I didn't post*.

Why the shitty attitude? Because I don't do change well and there's been quite a lot of it recently. I'm a fairly tough old bird under stress but once the crisis has passed, I'm prone to collapsing to the floor and curling up in a ball or the equivalent, which either involves laying on the couch clutching my TiVo remote (hard to do at work) or sitting at my desk reading other people's blogs all day instead of taking care of business.

As sloppy and inconvenient as it is, this particular slog through the swamp should be pretty short-lived. I mean, even though it's still February, there are many nice things going on; the crocuses are up, my blog-pal Susan just got engaged, and yesterday marked two years since I first spied an old friend on and sent him an harassing email**.

And that last thing? A very good thing, indeed.

* See? I do feel guilty when I blow you off.

** What? You don't know that story? Well then, hie thyself on back to Parts I, and II, and III. What? Want more? OK, here's IV, V, and VI.

Friday, February 20, 2009

One more time

This isn't my video, but this is where I was Wednesday night, pretending I was Rockin' my Friday.

It was so much cooler in person, believe me. The sound was overwhelming! This happened about 3/4 of the way through the show and it got me up on my feet and dancing. We were up a level, on the left side in a box. Our seats were amazing.

Can't tell it from this clip, but those dancers worked their asses off. Backup singers, too.

Great show!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Now that's entertainment

Saw David Byrne in concert last night. I only recognized a few of the songs but it still was an amazing show. Backup singers, raging percussion, dancers, quirky David Byrne stuff... yes, yes, yes, and yes, please. People spanning several decades of age were up and dancing for a good portion of the show, in the fancy symphony hall, of all places! I managed to contain myself until Once in a Lifetime, then I lost all control and joined the melee. In a restrained, age-appropriate, middle-aged-white-female sort of way, of course.

The only downside was that the show didn't start until 8:30. I'm usually in my jammies at 8:30. It being a weeknight and all, we had to leave before the encore to catch the earlier ferry. Managed to make it home by 11:30, whereupon we fell, exhausted, into bed.

See? We elders can rock, as long as we're in bed by midnight.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

PT cruiser

Let the games begin! PT is underway in earnest now and boy, is that a fun way to spend an hour or what. Let's see, how can I describe it? It's like having someone move your arm at an awkward angle, as far as you can possibly stand, then have him move it further, an inch at a time. And when you think it can't possibly go any further without YOUR BRAIN EXPLODING, he moves it an inch further. And then your brain explodes all over his shirt* and ruins his day. And then you begin again. Lather, rinse, repeat for the better part of an hour, after which you are immobilized rewarded by having a giant icepack chilled to approximately seven degrees Kelvin strapped to your shoulder for precisely 15 minutes. Then you get to go to work.

Yeah, it's just like that.

So that's what I will be doing two to three mornings a week for the foreseeable future. I'm sensing that there will be ample quantities of comfort food consumed along the way. I already have a pack of Starbuck's dark chocolate covered grahams loaded and waiting in my desk drawer, just waiting for me to pull the trigger.

This PT thing had better work. I'm just sayin', is all.

* OK, slight exaggeration, but it sounds much more dramatic that way, don't you think?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Recovery mode

Wow - I was actually relieved to be able to come to work today. And that's not something you'll hear me say very often.

We... enjoyed The Move: Phase I this weekend. Bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, and electronics have all been relocated. However, there is that one junk drawer in the kitchen that I forgot about, plus all that crap in my bedroom from my last move that I have to sort through. But otherwise, those rooms are picked clean as a plate of ribs on the 4th of July in Wisconsin.

Curiously, Mr. B's house got a whole lot smaller this weekend. Kitchen and bathroom storage is going to be particularly problematic. We have about 67 pots and pans, a box of kitchen utensils that weighs about 20 pounds, and four generous boxes of I-don't-know-the-hell-what that needs to be stowed in a single bathroom with one medicine cabinet and one wall cabinet.

I thought I'd purged. Apparently I don't know from purged.

I was surprised at how much unpacking I got done this weekend. I can only make so many decisions per day and populating a kitchen usually burns through my quota in a few short, agonizing hours. But by Monday evening we actually were able to cook a meal with only a few trips out to the sun porch to rummage through the utensils box.

Phase II, furniture and books and (gulp) the garage, should happen before April 1st. But don't hold your breath because I'd hate to be responsible for your loss of consciousness.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Dancing days, two ways

**Updated 2/19: I found another video to embed. The first few seconds are silent, but stick with it.**

G'morning, girls and boys! Are you ready to Rock your Friday blind? I certainly hope so. It's always best to come to these things prepared.

Heard this one on the radio yesterday and realized that it's probably my most favoritest Led Zeppelin song ever. And it's sorta romantical, isn't it?

A note for service: Like most Zeppelin, it's best served loud, so shut the office door and crank dat!

Dancing Days, Led Zeppelin

For you youngsters, I found this tasty cover by the Stone Temple Pilots. I thought it might be a little easier for you to handle. (smirk!)

So go off and have yourselves a Happy Valentine's Day, Happy President's Day, or whatever excuse you need to whoop it up this weekend. Mr. B and I will be moving boxes. Now that's romantic!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


This is the only exercise I've been getting recently: this writing exercise from an online novel-writing class I'm taking.

It's an exercise in POV (point of view). I also wrote it in third person but thought posting both versions might be way too much.

The premise: A female math professor suddenly finds herself able to see and interact with magical beings.

I shut my eyes, tried not to clench the arms of the chair, and willed the nascent bowel spasm welling up from the depths of my gut to recede. I absolutely dreaded 'chatting' with Martha; so much so that my body had permanently associated Martha with intestinal discomfort. But when the department head wants to chat, you chat, no matter how excruciating it promises to be.

It seemed like I had been waiting forever, but my watch said Martha was a mere five minutes late. I was ready to allow myself to feel irritated when I heard Martha's hearty, booming voice in the hall outside. I tried to steel myself for the onslaught. Martha was just so.... much, on every level.

The door banged open, and even though I knew it was coming, I couldn't stop myself from flinching.

"Jana! Hello, my dear, so good to see you!" Martha swept into the room like a silver-helmet-haired torpedo and settled her squat frame into her chair behind the desk. I'd heard people described as being as big around as they were tall and always thought it hyperbole before I met Martha. It was kind of fascinating, in a dead-possum-in-the yard kind of way.

I opened my mouth to respond but simply nodded and smiled instead. No use in saying anything; Martha never left a moment's pause. The older woman was built like a tank, moved like a tank, and spoke like a tank, if that was even possible. Inexorable.

"Well, it's annual review time already, eh? Let's see what we've got here..."

I knew what was coming but that didn't make it any easier. This last semester had not gone well. There had just been so many distractions, and dragging reluctant groups of clueless students through Business Calculus just didn't seem as important as it had last year. I heard Martha's almost-basso drone on and on about plummeting student evaluations and blah blah blah... but I couldn't bring myself to listen.

Oh no. Not now! Nol's head appeared from under Martha's desk. He couldn't actually be climbing into her lap!

Oh, yes he could. Cold sweat broke out on my forehead as my magical pal, my guide, my tormentor, clambered up into the department head's lap. He looked up at Martha, who was babbling about my lack of participation in departmental social events, then he slowly turned his head, looked me square in the eyes, and smiled his infuriating, captivating grin. He raised his hands slowly to cup Martha's gigantic bosom, never taking his eyes from mine. He gave her a little squeeze and giggled. Martha stopped talked for a moment and coughed. I thought I might soil myself.

He was going to do it. Martha wouldn't see it, but she would feel it. I had to stop him -- the thought of Martha sexually aroused was more than I could deal with.

I found myself leaning forward slightly, every muscle straining against the urge to leap up and shout at Nol. That would mark the end of my credibility in the department -- Martha would be convinced I had completely lost it -- but there was no other way. Any less of a gesture and Nol would insist he had mis-interpreted it.

I had just reached the breaking point when it all became too much; Martha, the students, Nol, struggling to gain control of this new life and maintain the status quo in the real world. All of the weariness of the last eight months fell over me like a lead blanket. I slumped back into the chair, resigned. Nol continued to stare at me, tittering, baiting me.

Screw it! Besides, Martha might even enjoy it; who knows how long it had been since anyone had buried their face in the granite bulwark that was her bosom. Hysterical laughter threatened to burst from my throat but I managed to transform it into the faintest of smiles. Praying Martha wouldn't notice, I slowly winked at Nol.

What do you think? It's the only scene I've written for this story so far. I had no idea what was going to happen when I started but thought it came out kind of fun.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What it is

I met with the physical therapist today for the evaluation of my shoulder, and I finally learned exactly what 'adhesive capsulitis' is, in terms I can understand. I'm a big enough geek to find it fascinating and just self-absorbed enough to share it all with you.

Apparently, the sheath covering the shoulder is like a deflated beach ball -- lots of wrinkles and folds. As long as the shoulder is moving around, everything stays nice and supple. But if, for some reason, the shoulder doesn't get moved around (like because it HURTS), the folds can get stuck together and the sheath gets all stiff, like a deflated beach ball that lays in the trunk under the spare tire all winter. And then you can't raise your arm high enough to shave your right armpit. (Wait... maybe that's just me.)

Once that happens, adhesions (scar tissue) form, sticking the folds together but good. (Note: This doesn't usually happen to beach balls.)

The goal of PT is to break up the adhesions and get the folds unstuck. Imagine what fun that's going to be!

The coolest thing of the day was this iontophresis patch* he put on my shoulder to deliver the cortisone, instead of an injection. It has a little watch battery in it and everything! I didn't even know such things existed.

I'm thinking this whole PT business is going to consume a fair amount of my mental energy for the near future, not to mention a large portion of my sick time. And I'm guessing there will be large amounts of whining involved, as well.

Fair warning.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I noticed this morning that the motion sensor for the driveway light didn't go off while I was out there brushing the snow off the car. And it was even cloudy! So we're getting there, bit by painful bit.

Now, about that whole 'snow' thing....

Monday, February 9, 2009

A week to remember

This is turning out to be a Very Significant Week, with every iota of stress that implies.

Firstly, Mr B's birthday is this week. To celebrate, Young Son & I are taking him to the big Chinese buffet restaurant. Young Son decided a few years back that this is the perfect place to celebrate the birthdays of all of the adults in his life, so there we go. I'm fine with it -- the food's surprisingly OK and I love the crispy green beans and coconut jello. We're going to have a proper grown-up celebration next week when we go out to eat at a fancy-pants restaurant in the Big City before the David Byrne concert. Not so stressful, really, except I wish I had planned something... more for the actual day. More guilt than stress, really.

Secondly, did I mention that Young Son and I are moving in with Mr. B this weekend? Oh yeah. I did. OK, there's a fair amount of stress there.

Thirdly, this week marks what would have been my 30th wedding anniversary. That has got me thinking a lot about thirty years ago. If you haven't tried it, it's a good way to make you feel very, very old.

Let's step into the Way-Back Machine, shall we?
This Week, Thirty Years Ago:

We had been living together for over a year and decided we had the whole relationship thing figured out*, so why not get married? Heck, I was 19, he was 20; we were adults, and adults got jobs (check!) and got married. That weekend in February happened to be the first one after the holidays that was open at the reception place, and it was kind of close to Valentine's Day, so why not? We took out a signature loan for $500 and started a-plannin'.

So months passed and finally it was February. Did I mention we were in Wisconsin? That was the winter we had 200" of snow. There was so much snow on the ground that people were sticking tennis balls on their car antennae so that they could be seen at intersections. No, I am not even kidding.

My memory is crap, but I do I remember bits and pieces of that day. I remember my dad** (who had, that very morning, taken the groom out for a four-martini breakfast) offering me $500 and his car keys -- in case I wanted to bail -- right before he walked me down the aisle. I remember the organist, who happened to be a midget little person. Looking back at the photos, it did lend kind of a festive, carnival-like atmosphere to the whole affair. Fortunately for us, he was very talented. I remember the stained glass in the beautiful Olympia Brown UU Church.

I remember I hated my hair. I had made an appointment at a salon because that's what people did. I went alone that morning, with no photos and no idea what I wanted; it just had to be "fancy". I do not recommend that approach. I spent a frantic hour in the bathroom at the church trying to turn it into something not stupid. Fail!

I remember my co-worker at the bank offered to sing at the wedding as her gift to us, because she "did it all the time". She lied and it was torture. I remember the wedding cake made by my new husband's cousin as her gift to us, because she "did it all the time". The result was about what you'd expect, a true Cake Wreck. The fact that there are no surviving photos is a good indicator of its beauty.
Most of the rest of the details are lost; one of the blessings of aging, I suppose.

All in all, it was about what you'd expect from two clueless kids with a budget of $500 dependent on the good intentions of friends and family, none of whom took it very seriously, I'm guessing. I do remember being very, very glad it was over. And I decided shortly thereafter that if I had it to do over again, I would have insisted we elope to Vegas.

Just reminiscing about it stresses me out.

I am mostly grateful that Mr. B had the good grace not to be born the same day as my former anniversary. As Young Son is fond of saying, 'That would be awkward!' The day before is plenty close.

You know, in the future I think I should never, ever be allowed to plan anything more complicated than a trip to the Chinese buffet for the second week of February.

* It's funny how I've gotten more and more stupid over the last 30 years. I don't know a tenth of what I knew back in 1979.

** Remind me sometime to tell you the heartwarming tale of how my dad introduced me and the Ex. Good, clean family fun. (snort!)

Friday, February 6, 2009


Here's some good, old-fashioned 80s alt-rock to Rock your Friday!

I Still Believe, The Call

I don't remember being too attached to this song back in the day, but it's been in regular rotation on my favorite radio station for awhile now and I've come to just plain dig it. I mean, c'mon! The soaring bass, intense vocals, and downright perky keyboards? How could one possibly not believe?

Thursday, February 5, 2009


The Ex, a civil service employee, sends this in to be filed under the heading of "You have got to be friggin' kidding me!"

He received this e-mail, somewhat redacted for your protection, in the course of government business:

I have received the fax.

Thank you,

Ms xxxxxxx
Payroll Customer Service Rep.
Code: xxxxx
Bld: xxxxx
Phone: xxxxx xxx xxxx
Fax: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Email: xxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx

or unauthorized disclosure (blah blah blah...)
(Now, wait for it...
wa-a-a-ait for it....
"A woman's heart should be so hidden in Christ
that a man should have to seek Him first to find her."
Uh... well, OK then.

The Ex (who, BTW, is much closer to being a christian that I ever was) writes:
Jes$# H. Chr#$t what is this? Who would put something like this at the end of a work email? What is she, a payroll clerk or Mother Theresa?

To all you folks out there that put little ditties like this on your e-mail: Be advised someone like me is making fun of you on a grand scale, on the you tubes and world wide webs and such.

And that's a no-shitter - he totally is.

I wonder if she dates much?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ready or not

Stage I of the Big Move - the Panties, Legos, and Frozen Peas segment - is scheduled for President's Day weekend. That's ten days away.

Ten. Days.

I have done nothing at my house to prepare, except to pull out a few more pieces of clothing from my closet and toss them onto the large charity-bound mound on my bedroom floor. It's been there for eight months. There are now more clothes in the pile than in my closet.

Wait! I did get something done last night. Young Son and I finally finished sorting the copier-paper box full of Legos and Bionicle parts back into their component bins. It has taken us approximately five hours total over the last two weeks to do this.

I know. It's just so me. Let's see... should I spend five hours cleaning out the kitchen cabinets, fridge, and freezer? Maybe the bathroom cabinets? No, no, no! That's certainly not nearly as important as sorting out a million little plastic toy pieces into two piles.

Hey, don't judge me. I can't help it. I'm a P, not an J.

This being my fourth move in 2½ years*, I think I can give you a pretty accurate forecast for the next ten days.

This week, look for increasing stress and agitation about what I think has to be done. Lots of random things (see above) will be accomplished, but very little actual progress will be made.

At some point this weekend, Mr. B will have to talk me down off the ledge, and I will regroup and prioritize what really does have to be done. Some of it may actually get done.

The first part of next week will be full of prolonged procrastination accompanied by guilt, until possibly Thursday, when the light will dawn. The pace will then increase rapidly. At first packing will occur in a rational and orderly fashion, until I run out of time and begin throwing shit into boxes at random. This storm will last all weekend, increasing in intensity through Monday.

By the end of President's Day, most of the panties, Legos, and frozen peas will end up at Mr B's house, although I won't be able to figure out what's in which box. I will be exhausted and completely drained, just in time to go back to work.

But it's going to be worth it. So-o-o-o very worth it! Mr B best be prepared - I ain't going nowhere for a long, long time.


* Just figured out it's my 17th move in 30 years, give or take. Can that be right? You've got to be fucking kidding me.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What not to wear

I'm going to do it. I'm going to get rid of all the jeans I shouldn't be wearing. You ladies know what I'm talking about -- the jeans that are a little too tight the first day out of the wash but usually loosen up the second day. The ones that are a little too short, but you solve that by not looking down.

As a middle-aged white female, supposedly an adult, I probably shouldn't be wearing jeans all the time anyway. Unfortunately, I really can't help it. Firstly, I'm a geek in a job that does sometimes include crawling around of the floor under desks. Secondly, I am, um, fashion disabled and can't really imagine (or remember) wearing anything else. Thirdly, wearing jeans negates the need for certain figure supporting/enhancing products which I surely would need to get familiar with if I chose a fabric any less... supportive than denim.

Complicating this is that when it comes to clothing, I am cheap. Really cheap. I get bowel spasms if I have to pay more than $30 for a pair of jeans. So... I buy my jeans at a certain unnamed discount mega-retailer I will call 'WMart'. And can I say convenient? I toss 'em in the cart right along with the peanut butter and Prilosec during my lunch-hour-grocery-shopping runs.

Now many of the jeans at WMart include some percentage of Spandex. Spandex is a wonderfully forgiving miracle fabric, to be sure. Hell, one might even think the more Spandex, the better! I certainly did, until I discovered that as you gain weight, those ever-accommodating stretchy jeans obligingly grow along with you, until you end up wearing pants that you should never, ever be wearing, even if they still 'fit', technically.

And then there's the bane of every women over the age of 40: Mom jeans. I don't want pants with a waistband up around my ribcage and tapered legs, but when one is built a... certain way and shops at a certain store, these days often the only alternative is to buy pants with a rise barely adequate to cover the lady parts, resulting in spillage of generous quantities of under-toned and over-fed middle-aged flesh.


Throwing out those last few pairs of "Oh no she di'nt" jeans will leave me with only two (!) pairs of jeans suitable for work, three if I keep the black ones that just plain fit weird. But, for the sake of my co-workers and humanity in general, it's got to be done. Trust me, it's for the best.

This might even call for a shopping trip to a real live department store. Did I mention that I hate shopping? I recommend you stay away from the mall for the next few weeks.

Monday, February 2, 2009

How come?

Why can I think of all kinds of things to write about until I actually sit down at the computer? I know I had at least four things to babble on about today, but now that I'm in my chair staring at the screen, I have absolutely no idea what they are.

Back in Ye Olden Tymes -- when we actually had to drive to the video store to pick out a movie -- I'd come up with all sorts of of movies I wanted to see, but as soon as I walked into the video store and my eyes fell upon the rows and rows of movies and shows available for my viewing pleasure my brain would completely overload and I would be rendered instantly clueless. Every single movie looked unfamiliar and strange, and somehow vaguely threatening. Sometimes I'd manage to pull myself together and grab something that didn't totally suck. Sometimes it was so bad I would walk out empty-handed.

Yep, I got it bad. A textbook case of Blockbuster Syndrome. And today I'm walking out empty-handed.

C'mon, Spring!