Friday, July 29, 2011

Dear America

First, let me say this: I am American, and I love my country.

(I felt like I had to get that out of the way before I said anything else. Which means: It's probably going to get a little ugly up in here, y'all.)

Now, having said that: Dear America, could we please stop the freaking insanity?

Could we act in the best interest of ALL of the people here? Please? And when I say "ALL of the people" I mean -- ALL OF THE PEOPLE. Not the loudest people. Not the craziest people. Not small splinter groups. Not one single religious group. Not Industry. Not Corporations. PEOPLE. The people who live here and who need basic, small things like: jobs. Places to live. Health care.

I think the people part of "We, the people" has been forgotten for "Us, some of the people."

I don't want to hear about any Tea Party anymore, unless someone's actually serving a hot beverage made from brewing dried leaves in hot water and serving it with delicious slices of cake. I don't want to hear about Republicans or Democrats or the Right or the Left and I definitely don't want to hear any other polarizing idiocy from Fox News, if that's all right.

I DO want to hear about elected officials comporting themselves with dignity and class, and digging themselves out of the mindset that their allegiance is to industrial or corporate interests and remembering that they are SUPPOSED to work in the best interests of the citizens that voted them in.

Those citizens -- I, me, you -- need some stuff. Like clean air and water. Like jobs.Like not favoring one at the expense of the other. Like food that is safe to eat and the money to buy it..

Enough with the ridiculousness. Enough with the "He said/She said" and the finger pointing and the BS that wouldn't be allowed or tolerated in ANY other kind of business. (Honestly, if anyone I worked with was as ineffective as the majority of our politicians, I would let them go.) Also, enough of bad mouthing your boss in public. It's disrespectful, it's rude, and it's beneath you. I don't CARE if you didn't vote for the President. I don't give a damn if he's not from your party. He won the election. So hush your mush and cut the crap and work with him. And in the next election, if the other party wins, I expect the same thing from whoever loses.


You know what I think? I think that when we show the world that we're about infighting and failing to work together, that when we're so into being considered right that we can't be respectful and responsible, and that when we put dogma ahead of people?

I think the terrorists laugh. I think it shows them that we're weak. I think it makes them feel justified.

I want it to stop. Now would be good.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

On The Road. Again.

Or at the very least, I'm about to be. I'm leaving next week for NC to see my youngest cousin get married (how is this possible? Wasn't he just born, like, yesterday? Egad!) and I'm trying to get my act together so that the stress levels can be as low as possible.

Please note that I said "trying".

My act is currently allllll apart.

I mean, I did sort of pack. I'm packed-ish. I know that some of you are thinking: Seriously? You're leaving next Wednesday and you're already packed and you're complaining that you're not prepared? Do you know that they make medication for that? To which I can only reply: Yes, sort of, and yes, I am aware of that, thanks.

I have to pack early because of the laundry situation. Is there anything worse than trying to pack, realizing that you need to wash some of the items you need to pack, and finding that you don't have the time to do it? Talk about throwing everything into a complete kerfluffle. (And there's nothing I hate like a kerfluffle, unless it's a snafu.) So I pack early. I have packed. I'm just ... I'm not sure I have actual outfits in there (if you're a man, your brain probably disengaged. That's cool. Skip down to the part where I start talking about gadgets, and you'll be fine.) Just random shirts and skirts. And some stuff to wear when I play golf (please, Lord, let there be golf). And -- oh yeah a dress for the wedding --but ... I'm probably going to need shoes, right? Something tells me shoes will be important. And maybe some kind of purse action. (And as I write this I'm thinking, Dammit, I'm also going to need socks to wear when I play golf and oh crap, I need to take everything out of the suitcase and figure out what I even put in there because seriously? This won't do at all -- but I can't do it tonight because my housesitter friend is coming over and I'm pretty sure that he already thinks I'm mildly psychotic and if he comes in and my clothes are all over the place and I'm sitting in the middle of the floor making lists he's REALLY going to wish he reconsidered agreeing to Beansie sit -- except I think that he reads my blog and now he'll have a mental picture of that scene and oh hell with it, I need to stop now. BREATHING. Okay.)

So yeah, also? Housesitter. Coming today to get keys. I've never actually had a housesitter before and it mildly weirds me out. Do I need to make lists? (Like, where stuff lives?) What's the protocol for basically hiring a temporary nanny for a differently abled cat? Anyone? (I actually think he's got this down. I think the only person who's crazily obsessing is me. Big surprise.)

I also need to figure out what gadgets are coming with me. Do I want to bring my netbook? I definitely want to bring my kindle. And my ipod. And my phone. (Yet another reason to wish I had an iphone ... it would eliminate the need for the last three gadgets, because it would essentially be all of them. Oh iphone, how I long for you ...). And then I need to find the chargers for all of those things, which could be a challenge because -- well, because chargers  like to escape and hide, don't they? (Oh, and headphones. Do I bring my awesome but bulky headphones which are super comfy, or do I suck it up on a short flight and use my earbuds, which I sort of hate but which take up no space?)

I love to travel. I really do. It's going to be a great trip. If, you know, I survive the planning bit.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What About Bob?

Several people have asked me about the current status of the stray (and very fancy) Himalayan cat that I tried (and failed) to rescue earlier this summer.


I don't know the gender of said swanky breed cat, but I have named it Bob. (And so, in an effort to be equal opportunity genderriffic, I will further confuse the issue by referring to Bob as a "she". Why? Why not?)

Bob is still hanging around. She won't let me get too close to her -- I think that she is still a little bitter about the humans trying to nab her in the parking lot incident. (Well, "bitter" might be an understatement. "Exceptionally pissed" might be a more accurate way to say it.) I have not found her in the dumpster again, but instead see her laying in the shade by the river that runs behind my house.

Bob is not super skinny, but she is VERY dirty and matted. It makes me sad.

Last weekend, when it was RIDICULOUSLY hot in the Northeast, I saw Bob trying to find someplace cool to curl up, and decided to leave some food and water in the shade near my building for her. So I did, and continue to do so (because now that I've started, I feel like stopping would just be mean... I don't want Bob to be counting on the food and then have it disappear on her. I think her life is hard enough already, you know?) and someone -- hopefully Bob -- is eating the food.

I'd like to say that I have some kind of great plan for Bob, that I'm going to eventually lure her in and that she'll realize I'm her friend and then I can get her to the shelter and it will all end happily, like a Disney movie. (Well, maybe not "Bambi" -- a different Disney movie.)

The truth is, though, that this is one of those times where all I can do is wing it and keep trying. Every morning I go out and hope that I'll see Bob staring at me from the patch of ferns where she likes to nap. I don't try to get too close to her, because if I do, she gets stressed and takes off. Instead, I talk to her and shake the food dish gently. "Hey, Bob, hey, pretty girl, are you hungry today? Here you go," I say, and put the dish down. The neighbors look at me like I'm crazy. Bob kind of looks at me like I'm crazy.

But not doing the best you can? That strikes me as being the crazy thing. So I keep feeding Bob, and hoping for that happy ending.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Your Own Personal Severus (Snape, that is ...)

I'm having a bit of a difficult time at the moment, because I'm having the experience of someone thinking that I did the absolutely, completely wrong thing and, frankly, really loathing me for it.

Part of me is okay with this, because a) this person loathes me nearly all of the time (think Harry Potter and his relationship to Snape) and b) I am 95% sure that I did not do the wrong thing. In fact, I was very careful to check in and ask questions and make sure that I was doing the right thing because I really wanted to avoid this whole situation. (Clearly, I have failed.)

Also, the person who most matters here seems to believe that I didn't do anything wrong, which is important.

The other 5% of my brain, however, is going completely nuts, wondering if I should have done something better, or differently, or stepped back and let other people take over. I could have. It would have been simple, and then there would be no discord or unhappiness, I don't think.

Well, actually, I might have been made slightly unhappy. But I could have lived with it.

The problem with this -- with anything like this, I think -- is that, as time travel is not widely available at this juncture, it's not like I can go back and change or fix the situation. This is how life is: we muck it up. We do things and other people get angry. We laugh and we cry and we fall down (some of us more often than others) and we stand up and we do things. Some of them are good. Some of them are not. We're imperfectly human and we do imperfect things. Sometimes they're well intended. Sometimes, they're not.

And sometimes, we can't get out of our own way long enough to see the difference. I've spent a lot of time sitting with this particular mess, and I think -- no, I know -- that the role I played in this most recent messy drama was not the one that my personal Snape thinks I played.  I also realize that she does not believe it, and that there's a solid chance that she never will.

So I have to learn to be okay with that.

Because unlike time travel, love is widely available, isn't it? And since we can't use time travel to go back and change things, maybe we have to use love to move forward and change them in the now and in the future, so that what is currently a bunged up mess can become something better. So that while you move forward, you do it with the certainty that you're still doing the best you can because you're allowing your actions to be dictated by love and not spite or anger. You put your grudges down because they're a burden, and because carrying them means that your hands are too full to reach out to other people, which is all we can really do, isn't it? Reach out.

Even Snape did it at the end.

Monday, July 25, 2011


I had to run to the grocery store last week for peanut butter, orange soda, and blueberry muffins (yes, I know, random). I went in, found my items, paid for them, and headed out the door with time to spare on my "I have stuff to do and going to the store is a chafe" schedule. All was well.

In theory, anyway, all was well.

In reality, all was not even close to well.

Here's why: after I paid, I found myself walking behind an older couple. He was pushing their grocery carriage, and she was walking beside him. She had a really cool purse and I was about to compliment her when I realized that she wouldn't hear me because she was too busy being berated for having forgotten to pick up granola bars during their shopping.

Perhaps "berated" isn't a strong enough word.

Perhaps "verbally assaulted" is a better word.

As though she was the only one in charge of knowing what food to buy. As if he was only there to push the cart. As if they weren't still in the store and couldn't just turn around and get some. They weren't even out the door yet.

And also, as if she was a child in need of correction -- although, even though I don't have children, I don't believe that anything that he said would be remotely close to appropriate for correcting a child. "I can't believe you're so fucking stupid," he said. He didn't bother to keep his voice down. "We walked right by them and you couldn't just pick them up? Didn't I ASK you if we had everything? DIDN'T I?"

She said nothing, but I had a good idea of what she was doing. She was answering him furiously, but only in her head, where it would be safe.

That's what I used to do.

It made me feel ill. I wanted to be anywhere else in the world but right there. Unfortunately, because of the way that the store is set up, I couldn't go around them until we got outside. I finally passed them and could still hear him all the way to my car. When I finally got there, I sat down, put my head on the steering wheel, and cried for a few minutes.

I wept for her, because she deserved more than that. Everyone -- every single person on this planet -- deserves more than that.

I also cried for him, because he doesn't know -- or maybe just doesn't care -- that you CANNOT under any circumstances treat someone so horribly.

And finally, I cried some selfish tears for me, because I wanted to help her and didn't have any idea how. I wanted to say something but I also didn't want to make it worse for her. She looked so tired and defeated, and he was so ... revved, as though taking his rage out on her made his day even as it ruined hers.

I wish I had said something, anything, that could have helped her.

Even if it had been something as stupid as "I really like your purse."

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sleepy, Dopey, and Grumpy

I  think I'm becoming nocturnal, which, having typed that, should surprise me not at all given the insomnia and the "so pale I sparkle like a Twilight vampire"* tendencies that I've been known to exhibit.

The thing is, I used to be a morning person. One of those annoying sorts who would leap out of bed at the crack of dawn and be raring to go, wide awake and alert. These days, I don't leap. I stumble. And neither "wide awake" or "alert" would be words used to describe the zombie shuffle I do from my bedroom into the kitchen, where I hope against hope that the smell of coffee will somehow activate the portion of my brain that is responsible for things like "functioning" and "earning a living".

It's sort of like this: Ever turn the key in a car ignition and have the engine not turn over but instead make that "I'm so on this ... any minute now ... oh screw it I quit" noise? That's the aural version of how I feel in the morning.

The problem with gradually becoming a night loving person is this: I HAVE to work during the day. If blogging and writing were my job, it wouldn't matter because I could write at any time but, sadly, blogging and writing are not my primary source of income, so the brains need to WORK during the daylight hours. (And they also need to learn how to REST in the evening ones!)

It's a problem. I realized it was a problem last night when the cat was giving me looks that could only be interpreted as "The fact that you're awake and up right now is SUPER ANNOYING PLEASE GO TO SLEEP AAAGHHH". (Or something like that.)

What to do?

Maybe I'll get it sorted out during my mini vacation. I'll let you know.

*I actually have a bit of a tan right now. Which I didn't even think was POSSIBLE, y'all. It's FUN not to look like the undead!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Second Chances

Sometimes you meet someone and totally get off on the wrong foot. And sometimes, you meet someone and get off on the right foot, but then because you're a completely graceless klutz you trip over the right foot and then find that all of a sudden you are on the wrong foot and all you've got, to quote Erin Brockovitch, are two wrong feet in fucking ugly shoes.

It's happened to me. Perhaps it has also happened to you.

Being wrong-footed is a surefire way to have a bad junior high flashback because it makes you feel completely awkward (like a platypus. As my friend Sarah says "Fur AND fins? For real?") and as though you're standing against the wall in a gymnasium while "When I See You Smile" plays through a set of poorly rigged speakers and everyone else is dancing (assuming, of course, that you attended junior high in the late eighties. If not, insert the appropriate "makes you feel like a loser, arbitrary slow dance song" there and the feeling will be similar).  Once you're on the wrong foot -- for whatever reason -- it's nearly impossible to stop with the awkward, too. That's the worst part, I think. You can't lose it. Whatever caused the moment of "Oh crap, did that just happen?" is going to stick to and try to ruin any further interaction with the person with whom, up until that point,  you were doing quite well.

Obviously, I am familiar with this phenomenon.   I'm actually so familar with it that I have learned -- finally -- to be a little more forgiving when someone says something that puts them into "perhaps this is wrong foot territory" with me.  Lord knows, being the Queen of All Blunders has very few perks, but one of them is this: I have learned to put things in a bubble and blow them away. Which, of course, means that I have learned that no one should be condemned to a lifetime of wrong feet and bad shoes.

I have learned to give second chances. I have also learned to take them when they're offered to me. And let me tell you, when someone has the grace to acknowledge that it's time you stood on BOTH your feet, the wrong one and the right one too, and that they can accept who you are and you can accept who they are and you can both then be cool with the fabulousness that you both possess?

There's not much better than that.

Monday, July 18, 2011

She's a Maniac (Yet Another Episode of Find The Stench ... sort of)

My friend Shilo and I walked into my apartment and both stopped in the kitchen and sniffed the air.

"It smells like clean laundry in here," Shilo said.

I did not agree. I don't know what it smelled like. It wasn't clean laundry to me. It wasn't something mutating somewhere within the depths of my kitchen. I didn't know what it was... but it was wrong. The only way I can explain it is this: you know how, when you walk into your house, it smells like home?

My kitchen smelled like someone else's house. The rest of the house was fine. The kitchen was wrong.

However, since I was tired, I decided to let it go for the evening. I grabbed my book and retreated into the bedroom to read, and eventually fell asleep.

In the morning, I got up early and was out of the house by 7:30 to hit the beach. If the kitchen smelled wrong, it didn't register as I went out the door.


When I came home, it was like being smacked in the face with a boxing glove full of incorrect.

I febreezed. I went outside and took the trash out, and then went downstairs and put in a load of laundry. I walked back into my house.

Still wrong.

I wish I could tell you what the smell was. It wasn't a bad smell. It wasn't a chemical smell (it was a little chemically, I guess) and it wasn't a citrus smell and it wasn't a fruity smell. It wasn't stinky like cheese or sour or sweet. It was ... off. And somehow wrong enough that every time I went out and came back in I was startled by the smell.

Being exceptionally laid back, I decided to let it go. Whatever, right?

(You didn't fall for that, did you?)

The Smell was making me CRAZY. What WAS it? Where was it COMING from? WHY was it only in the kitchen? ARGGGGHHHHHH!

I was hot and sweaty and tired and a little bit toasted from being in the sun in the excessive heat at the beach. I was anticipating a nap in the air conditioned glory of my living room. But I couldn't. Because of The Smell.

And thus the cleaning began.

First, the fridge. Everyone out. Some things were tossed. The shelves were cleaned and the plastic sparkled. (Please note: I checked my new cleaners to see if they were the source of The Smell. They were not. They were distinctly different from The Smell.)

I breathed in the scent of lemons. Happiness. I took the prisoners of the Refrigerator War out to the dumpster, stopped in the hall, and then opened my door.

The Smell laughed at me.

I may have, at that point, cursed. Repeatedly. For about five minutes while I walked around, sniffing things. Sink ... no. Counters, no. Cupboards, no. Under sink sometimes stinky compartment, no.

Oven. No.

Oven. Hmmmmm.

Maybe I should clean the oven.

You know what's really NOT super fun on a 92 degree day in July? Cleaning your oven.

I did it anyway. It was traumatizing, but I did it.  Now my oven was clean. I ran the fan to disperse THAT smell, and then pulled all of the burners off of the TOP of the stove, and cleaned those. I used my fabulous Method stainless steel cleaner that smells of apples until the stove sparkled in clean gloriousness. I made ANOTHER trip to the dumpster and returned to my apartment, sure that The Smell would be gone.

It wasn't.

I got my Method almond wood cleaner and attacked the cupboards. Almondy goodness. I cleaned the sink with the stainless steel cleaner. Apples! I cleaned the counters. Lemons! I ran the dishwasher. Pink Grapefruit! My house smelled like a produce stand. I went outside and came back in.

The Smell. It was still there.

At that point, I started questioning my sanity. I don't know if olfactory hallucinations are possible, but I thought I might be having one. In a last ditch effort, I washed the floor. And then I laid down on it and gazed, exhausted and dehydrated, at the sparkling clean, if somehow smelly, kitchen that I now possessed.

My cat walked over to me and licked my face questioningly. (She was either checking to see if I was alive, or demonstrating that she was concerned about the fact that it looked like I had lost my mind. I'm chosing the latter.)

I got up.

"Screw you Smell," I said. "I quit. I've done all I can."

When I woke up this morning, my kitchen was gleaming quietly. The refrigerator hummed. The coffee pot twinkled.

And The Smell was gone.

This was worth a celebration. This was worth -- coffee.  Which, though another smell, is at least one I can identify.

(Hey, you! Yes, you there. Reading. I wanted to let you know that "Gone to Carolina" will be on vacation on Thursday and Friday of this week; new posts tomorrow and Wednesday, and then I'll be back on July 25th... Thank you, as always, for continuing to read!)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Randoms (and a giveaway winner!)

1. There are some people who I adore unconditionally. My friend Dan is one of them. And it's his birthday. Happy Birthday, Dan!

2. I am going to have a visitor from out of town next week. Am I the only person who is thrown into a complete cleaning frenzy by the concept of "having company"? I have been catching myself thinking: If I stand on the countertops, I bet I could dust the tops of at least MOST of the cupboards. Even though no one can see them. Even though standing on the countertops would be ridiculous and sketchy and potentially dangerous to my falling-down-prone self. Must ... clean... house. Also, must...stop... the... madness...

3. Can we talk about Harry Potter for a moment? I know that with the advent of the final film, people are beginning the stages of grief process. I'm actually okay with it, because for me? The movies were not the thing. They're okay. But I love the books, and I went through my grief-stricken "I can't believe it's over" phase after the last book came out. But of course, the beauty of books is that they're NEVER over. The story lives as long as you can crack the book open. I reread the series every summer. (In fact, I should begin the Annual Potter-Thon next week. There may be posts regarding the Potter-Thon... I'm just saying)

4. Speaking of books -- the drawback to a Kindle is that it's not bathtub friendly. I like to read in the tub. The Kindle does not like being in the tub, I don't imagine. Since I am a person who has also DROPPED a book ... or two ... in the tub, then bathtime = no kindle. However, since this is my new favorite way to purchase books ... it's a quandry. (They should make a waterproof Kindle. I'm just saying.)

5. My favorite part of the summer? Going to the beach. A morning spent at the beach is better than a week long vacation, I think. This weekend? Two perfect beach days loom before me. I'll be there with my sunscreen, a booze free mojito, my best pal Flinkie, and the Kindle. (Or Harry Potter, if I'm okay with getting the books sand crusted). Life does NOT get any better than that. I hope your weekend is equally wonderful.

AND THE WINNER IS: The winner of the first annual Blogaversary Giveaway is: Kristie! Kristie can expect a fabulous something to arrive at her house in the next few weeks! Yay! However, I would like to say -- again -- thank you for taking the time out of your day to read my scribbles. You have no idea how much I heart you for it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Om Nom Nom

I have eaten a lot of diet and prepacked, preprepared food in my day. How much? A lot.

Too much.

The other day I was at the grocery store and I was  standing in front of the frozen foods, contemplating yet another round of Lean Cuisine, when I realized: I don't want to eat like this anymore.

It was sort of like when I decided to stop eating meat, actually. Well, okay, it was perhaps slightly less traumatizing than the event which prompted me to become a vegetarian, but the idea of "I no longer have any desire to eat like that" part of it was similar.

I would like to eat food that has been prepared by humans. Not machines. Not things which are loaded up with chemicals to make them seem delightful even though they've been premade and frozen and sitting on a shelf.

So. I've rejoined the realms of people who actually cook things instead of simply nuking them.

You know what? It's kind of marvelous. Here's why:

1. It's cheaper.

2. The things I'm eating are tastier.

3. I LIKE to cook. Apparently, I had forgotten that.

So there you go. I don't know how long my resolve will last ... but heck, I've been a vegetarian for a little over a year. Once I got used to that, it became kind of easy. I suspect this will as well.

What do other people think? Is this crazy? Have I completely lost it? Am I WAAAAY overthinking it as usual? Let me know ...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's Comfort Food, Y'all

I think every family has some sort of singular foodstuff (or stuffs) -- kind of weird things that they love and other people don't necessarily get and, to be honest, don't really have any desire to eat, EVER. But if they're your dishes, from your family, you know that not only are they delicious, but they're also the most comforting thing in the world -- an edible hug.
There are a couple of those in my family, but one of my favorite things, a dish that speaks of home no matter where I am, is a rice dish my dad makes. I LOVE it. It's tomato-y and spicy and warm and delicious. I could eat it every day.  (We call it "tomato surprise". I have no idea why.)
When I was in high school, my dad taught me to make it -- sort of. He gave me a rundown of the basic ingredients and some instructions. I made it. Mine was ... okay. It wasn't delicious like his. Oh sure, it would do in a pinch, when I made it for myself in my first apartment, or when I was first married and really kind of learning how to cook. It was all right. But it wasn't as good as my dad's.
My friend Annie told me that of COURSE mine wouldn't taste as wonderful as the dish my dad made... because it needed to be made by my dad to be special. Which, yeah, okay. I thought. Annie's fond of saying that the secret ingredient to any special food is Love. Which, again, probably.
I was recently watching Paula Deen cook, and she announced to the camera, slyly, "And the thing that makes EVERTHING more delicious is butter, y'all," when it hit me.
Love might be a powerful secret ingredient.
But so is butter.
I called my mom: "How much butter does Dad put in the tomato surprise?" I asked suspiciously, since he had told me a half a stick.
"A TON," she said. "Stick? Stick and a half? I don't know ... it's a LOT."
It's been a rough week. So I went to the market and bought the ingredients. Despite my misgivings, I added a stick and a half of butter.  I took a bite, and there it was: my dad's tomato surprise (a vegetarian version, with sauteed mushrooms instead of the ham he favours), including the secret ingredient that I expect now that he didn't tell me about because he knew that I might be freaked out by the idea of eating ridiculous amounts of butter -- which makes it about love after all, right?

Love is, after all, the best ingredient.
And it turns out butter doesn't hurt, either.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ages 5 and Up

I like gadgets. And toys. And gadgets that are also toys... and toys that are also gadgets.

I also like to have gadgets and toys handy to play with while I'm working. (Which makes me realize that what my desk REALLY needs is a Rubick's cube. How fun would that be? While I'm mentally problem solving I could also be puzzle solving! Oh man. I need to get one. But I digress.) As a result of my need to fidget while working, I have toys and gadgets on my desk.  No big.

A couple of weeks ago I saw the new Transformers movie and let me just say this: loved it. One of the (many) things I enjoyed about it? There were NASCAR vehicles that were ALSO Autobots. It's like the movie gods thought, "How can we make Danielle really love this movie? Let's see. Massive explosions, check. Josh Duhamel and Patrick Dempsey, check. Giant killer robots, check. Linkin Park soundtrack, check ... we need something else... Oh I know! NASCAR!" And there it was, Dale Jr's car, all Transformer'ed out. I believe I may have uttered a small shriek of joy. (To be perfectly honest, the only thing that could have made it any better would have been the involvement of Mark Harmon and/ or 30 Seconds to Mars. However, that level of awesome may have caused my head to explode. I'm just saying.)

(Also, I know that my confession of love for Michael Bay movies and the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing has probably lowered me in the opinions of some readers. To which I can only say: listen up, Mayor McJudgie of Judgertown. I don't demand that you love what I love, so I'd like to be allowed a little space for the low brow. Plus, watching stuff explode on screen is fun, as is watching people turn left at really high speeds for several hours. To each her own.)


So last weekend, I was at Target and I realized that there is a TOY version of the Transformer that looks like Dale Jr's car. And then I realized that having that on my desk would bring me hours of worktime enjoyment. So I bought it.

Let me say now: I had Transformers when I was a kid. I loved them. They were awesome. (I kind of wish I still had them, to be honest.) They were fun. They were complex and gadgety and cool.

I do not remember needing to have an engineering degree to make them, well, transform.

Oh times, how they change.

The box for this little gem of a toy says "Ages 5 and up". I don't know where Hasbro is recruiting 5 year olds from, but I'm thinking ... Mensa. Because holy hell, is this thing hard to figure out. It took me well over an hour to change it from a car to a robot. And by "well over an hour" I mean to say "I'm not going to tell you because it's embarassing, but I went to bed at about 12:30 and I got home with the stupid thing at about 9ish and you can do the math". Even then, I could tell I hadn't done it properly, because my kick-ass robot looked like he needed to spend some time in a repair facility for Autobots that had perhaps been partying too hard the night before. Standing was an issue for him to the point that his posture looked sheepish, as though he was trying to apologize for failing to lay off the high test.

When I woke up the next morning, he was slouching there on my nightstand. It made me feel bad, and also? A little dumb. This is a toy for CHILDREN, I thought. I am THIRTY FIVE. Surely I can figure this out.

Surely the first thing I did was accidentally pop his head off. His tiny robotic gaze spoke to me. It said, "You are a moron."

I put his head back on and began to carefully, painstakingly once again try to follow the diagrams that came with him. Now he stands boldly on my desk, weapon in hand, ready to take on any and all who might annoy or enrage me.

It's awesome.

However, needing two days to figure out a toy designed for use by children as young as 5? Not so awesome.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Brilliant! (Or, You Know, Not)

I wouldn't be writing this post -- which makes me look a bit like an idiot (and that might be a running theme for this week's posts, you have been warned) -- if I wasn't fairly certain that I'm not alone in what I am about to confess.

So here it is: the biggest obstacle in my life? Is me.

For reals, y'all.

Here's what I mean: There are things in my life that I often look at and think, "Oh, I should change that. That's keeping me from living the most spectacular version of my life. Not that my life is bad, necessarily -- because it's totally not -- but if I changed this easily changable thing, it would be MUCH more spiffy."

And then I don't change it. Instead, I keep doing the same things that I've been doing. And now and again, when the thing -- whatever it is, it doesn't much matter -- crops up again as an impending obstacle, I think AGAIN, "Huh. I should totally do something about that."

I know that change doesn't happen through the magical power of wishing. I mean, wishes are nice, but they're nice the way fairy tales are nice. Lovely, but not practical. Nothing really amazing ever happened simply through wishing.

Amazing things happen as a result of rolling up your sleeves and getting your butt in gear.

Change is always possible. However, it requires some WORK.

If I'm not going to do the work to change the things in my life that I want to change then, honestly, don't I need to hush about it? Isn't it unbelievably stupid to want my life to be a certain way if I'm never going to rearrange events and occurances in a manner that would make that vision possible?

I'm going to go with yes, it is pretty fricking stupid.   As feeling stupid makes me sad, I am going to knock it off. Either I change what I want to change, or I learn to live with what is and shut up about it. To do otherwise is -- well, it's just ridiculous.

And ridiculous is not equal to fabulous.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday Randoms

1. I got my Red Sox tickets today. The envelope that they came in COMPLETELY looked like junk mail. My Sox tickets very nearly went right into the trash.  Fortunately, my spidey senses kicked in before I actually tossed them (or the voice of reason) and I thought "Maybe I should open that before I shred it". Helllllooo nearly confetti-ed Sox tickets. Have I mentioned that I've never before been to a Sox game? I'm psyched. Even if they are obstructed view nosebleed seats. I do. Not. Care.

2. Am I the only person who goes on little food sprees? I will be all into one kind of food for, oh I don't know, a month or so, and then -- it's dead to me. I no longer care about it or want to eat it at all. Right now? Sandwiches. I LOVE me a sandwich. For example, right now, I would do someone significant harm if s/he stepped between me and a peanut butter and jelly sammich. (Which is extra weird because normally I don't enjoy peanut butter that much).  Sandwiches. I want to nom them. (Ability to make sandwiches currently: Let's see -- no bread. No veggies. No mustard. No mayo. Yeah. This is the sad sad land of no sandwiches. At least, until I go grocery shopping. Then it's going to be sandwich HEAVEN, I tell you!)

3. Note to anyone who is thinking about cutting his or her hair really really short (which mine now is): You have to really like your face if you're going to go crazy at the hairdresser, because suddenly, your features are ALL out there. I'm comfortable with my face, but occasionally am startled by the amount of attention it now demands.  It used to be hidden behind the hair. Now it's all out there. It's a little weird.

4. People who refuse to leave messages drive me CRAZY. If I didn't pick up it's because I'm on the other line or not available. Instead of calling 15 times in a row, with your calls separated by 15 second intervals? LEAVE ME A MESSAGE. That's why I have voice mail. Otherwise I will have to hunt you down and make you watch some kind of heinous reality television until your brain explodes.

5. Even when my job is driving me nuts? The people I work with are awesome. Completely, unabashedly awesome. I heart them.

Have a great weekend y'all!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

So I was all set to write a post about what I had for lunch (which probably doesn't sound like a great post, but it seemed funny in my head) when I realized that I've been blogging for just over a year.

I know, crazy.

To be honest, when I started, I was pretty sure that I would have two or three readers, and that one of them was going to be my mom... and I didn't know who the other two might be, but it was likely that my best friend might read it now and again. Probably. Actually, that's who I thought would read it: my mother and my best friend. The idea of three people seemed pretty far fetched.

And now?  I have, like, followers. (And there are more of you who follow via facebook, but who aren't listed as followers here. Which is lovely and totally amazing.)

I feel like I should be doing something for you follower types to thank you for wanting to read my rambles, and for forgiving me for frequently starting sentences with "and" and "so" (I KNOW that's not correct, but I can't seem to stop myself. It's a problem).

So (and there it is again!) here's what I will do: if you are a follower of the blog -- you're all set. If you are NOT listed as a follower of this here blog ON the blog -- sign on as a follower on blogger. You have ONE WEEK in which to do this. Next Friday (that would be the 15th of July) I will draw the name of one of the followers and ... send him or her an anniversary gift. From my blog to you. Because I love y'all for giving me a reason to do this every day.

So. If you're not formally following, sign on as a follower. And then think about what kind of cool gift you could be receiving from me, and my blog. With love.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Seat of Judgement

We love our court system, don't we? We love to watch it and make fun of it and announce loudly when we think justice is perverted. However, so few of us seem to want to participate. When I was called for  jury duty in 2004, it was interesting to see how many people spent a goodly portion of their time before the judge arguing why they should NOT have to serve, because they just didn't want to. They had other things to do. They'd rather not be there.

Admittedly, being on jury duty was a bit of a pain in the tochas -- it made for a very unpredictable February -- but I was willing to bet that as much as some of my fellow jurors did not want to be there, their desire to be gone was outweighed by the fact that there was someone who could NOT be present in the courtroom, because he was dead. And someone else was on trial for his involvement in that death.

I had to sit in judgement in the courtroom and decide if he was guilty based on what was presented in court.

Can we talk for a minute about the difference between court and the media? Court doesn't come with a nice remove from the defendant. He (or she) is right there, in front of you. As human as you are. With redeeming qualities and flaws and bad hair days and moments of brilliance and moments of extreme dunderheadedness. There is no overriding media commentator. Nancy Grace is not there to announce breaking news and the ONLY possible way that the evidence can and should be construed. All you have is what's there in the grave hush of the courtroom.

On one hand, you have a life that is gone. On the other, you have someone who may have taken it. And then you have to find without a doubt, without a question, that the defendant is guilty. Because at the end of it all, if you have ANY questions, if there's even a possibility that the defendant is innocent, he needs to be able to go home.

That's how it works. You can't have any questions. It has to be proved without a shadow of a doubt.

And so sometimes people walk. Not because they're innocent, but because in our system, we rely on the burden of proof to find them guilty. We ask regular people to review that proof -- or lack thereof -- and make a decision. We know it doesn't always work, because no system is perfect. We do the best we can with what we have.

I'm pretty sure that if you disagree with a verdict -- and we've all done it -- there are reasonable ways to express that. I'm also pretty sure that seeing people publicly threatening the life of an exonerated defendant makes me feel ill. Calling for the death of Casey Anthony now  hardly makes anyone look like an agent of justice.  It makes them look as though they believe all life is valuable except for the people they've decided are wrong  -- no matter what the courts say.

And while I'm on the subject of taking life, let's think about this: In death penalty cases, do you want a jury to weigh lightly or heavily? Do you want them to be satisfied with a scarcity of evidence? Or do you want them to make sure that it's all there?

Oh sure, maybe if it's a mom accused of killing her child, you might be satisfied if the jury said "She's loopy, she's a liar, we think she did it." Off to death row for her. She's a killer, right? A crazy, remorseless killer. You know. You watch CNN. You have no doubts.

But what if it was you? What if it was you .. and you were innocent? And there was a case built that couldn't actually prove that you killed anyone, but circumstances looked like you might have, and then it's your life on the line. How badly would you want that reasonable doubt? If a juror -- even one -- had a question, thought "but maybe, no" -- would you want her to say,  "Aw screw it. Guilty"?

I know I wouldn't. I bet you wouldn't either.

I don't know if Casey Anthony killed her daughter. But I know that I'm glad I didn't have to decide, and I know that the jury shouldn't be lambasted for its decision. I was on a jury that took some heat for some of the decisions we made -- ones that weren't made lightly, ones that involved shouting, some crying, and hours spent deliberating -- and it was unpleasant.

It's easy to sit in judgement until the consequences are life or death. And then it's very, very hard.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Puzzle Pieces

When you're building a puzzle, you often have a couple of pieces that look very similar in both shape and design -- so similar, in fact, that you can find yourself trying to mash a piece into a space where it looks like it should fit, seems like it should fit, but where it clearly does NOT fit, no matter how you press and wiggle and manipulate. It's just the wrong fit. That's not where it goes.

There are people for whom I am the wrong puzzle piece. While I am a part of the overall pattern of their lives -- carry the same genetic material, am part of the bigger story -- I don't fit into the space that they have reserved for me. I never have, and no amound of manuvering is ever going to make it so.

If you look at those pieces that you've tried to make fit into the wrong spot? They always look a little sad after. Bent. Maybe a little wrinkled. Kind of mashed and as though they've taken a beating.  It's not good for the puzzle piece. So maybe you set it aside, work on the puzzle without it, until it gets lost or forgotten, or you find another home for it.

It's hard to be pushed to the side, but not as hard as it is always to know that you don't fit and never will.

Until, that is, that you remember that the problem is not the puzzle piece. It is not you. The problem is that you're just being put in the wrong place. That somewhere, in the pattern, there is a perfect slot for you, where you link exactly.  Where the pieces around you mesh in harmony. Maybe it's not where anyone expected you to be, but it's where you belong.

Also remember this: that set aside or no, forgotten or not, without you, the picture will never be completed.

Friday, July 1, 2011

That's What Friends Are For

I know that I'm blessed in my friends. Really blessed.

Monday is my friend Shilo's birthday.

This is for her.

When I walked into preschool, I couldn't have guessed that you would still be my friend 31 years later. That you would still be around to make me laugh, to cry with if I needed to cry, and to make me think. That you would still be in my life to teach me how to be a better person, one who is fair and kind and optimistic when I want to be cranky and sarcastic and viewing my glass as half empty.

That you would be still be around to cheer me on when I want to quit. That you would continue to believe in me when I don't believe in myself.

On your birthday, I can't imagine what I could give to you that is half of what you've given me.

Happy birthday to one of the most fabulous people on this earth and my favorite fellow Geek.

Much, much love to you.