Friday, September 30, 2005


Ahh, a day off...mostly. I got to spend most of the day just doing what I wanted, which in this case was to sleep late, visit Borders for my breakfast mocha & conversation, and work uninterrupted on my project. The whole thing is now primed and ready for color paint, and I am covered in white primer. I learned about using primer from the last project, "Bookcase with 18 Coats of Paint". It wasn't as disastrous as "Three-legged Table" but still a pain in the neck--the paint just sort of wiped off, and it was black going over white. At least I learn something from every faulty project though; I wonder what I'll learn from this one. I hope it's just the new skills I have with the power saws, drills, sanders and things and not learning-from-mistakes like the other ones were. Sturdy? Check. Primed? Check. So far so good.

Had to go to a bank meeting tonight that was awful in its mediocrity. Our new assistant manager has the worst grammar--she actually described herself as not being the "most smartest" person. Well, no shit...
She also says "ax" for "ask", "good" for "well", "like" for "as"...It drives me nuts. Exactly what do you have to have to be an assistant manager at a banking center? I'm sure she's competent with other stuff but it can't give customers as good impression of her or of the bank in general.

I've decided that October is going to be MY month at the bank, that I'm going to overcome all previous obstacles and prove that this month wasn't just a fluke. I figure if I work my butt off (like usual) for the first few weeks but in the right directions, than I can just coast through to the end instead of being stressed about meeting quotas. Because I liked the feeling of last week--having all my numbers met and just topping things off. If my drawer balances tomorrow, it'll be a perfect score for the month.

D is bad off tonight. He had his physical therapy this morning and it hurt him a lot, more than he admits I think. We picked up dinner to go from Friday's b/c I was at the bank so late and there wasn't food in the house. It was actually really nice; we sat at the bar while we waited and it was just like old times; there's something about those stools that brings out the flirt in both of us. Back when we both worked at the Westin and went out every night with Ginna and Felicia et al., Fridays was our main place. They gave me drinks when I was just 19 and I will always like them for that. (Certainly not for their food though.) I just put D to bed with a codeine and some water...he was making suggestions about what we'll do when he's capable again. I guess that bar-stool effect lasts awhile. I so much want him to be feeling better, for his sake and for mine too. Because it's been awhile.

I just remembered, I've got Saturday off as well! I'll know I'll pay for it next week, working Monday straight through Saturday, but a whole weekend! wow. If the weather stays dry like this, then it's paintin' time. I've got the paint chips in my bag--a wonderful dark-chocolate color and a brilliant cranberry. So I see all colors in terms of food, is that so bad? The cabinet will be mostly brown, the desk-top mostly red.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Banking purgatory

How can a job be so difficult, scary, and complicated while still being so BORING? I got four referrals today (count 'em!) which brings me in one month from the worst at the branch to the best. Go figure. Getting referrals was the one thing I could never really grasp, and now I have it...I think I've out-grown my job and I haven't even finished a year yet. That's never happened before; heck, I was a barrista (Borders) for longer than that before I felt so hemmed in. Maybe that's because I was also in school then so I had that other challenge or focus in my life, and right now the bank is all I have to concentrate on. Too much mind for the task I guess; I do everything by rote.

Today was one of those hell-days when half the staff was out (sick, sick, day off, day off, day off, training) so we were down to a skeleton crew. Somehow over the summer I went from being one of the least-experienced teller to one of the most. Like a pupa/larval type transition. It only means I help other people all day, and I don't have the patience for that stuff. If I did, I'd be a teacher like my dad or something. My hope is to move to one of the areas of the bank that deals with tracking down fraudulent stuff--it's like solving little financial mysteries. My favorite thing to do at the bank is help other tellers when their drawers are out of balance; it's a game I call Find the Money. Is it in your checks? Your twenties? Your coin vault? Fraud would be like that without dealing so much with Other People. I've somehow become a misanthrope.

On a brighter side, though, I have tomorrow mostly off. Why do they always schedule the meeting for my off-day? I have to go in at 6:30 in the evening--some day off! But the rest of the day will be nice. I've had to delay work on the desk due to weather; too humid and rainy to paint. Also, I feel wierd working in the garage at night with the door up because I'm so illuminated in the dark; like I'm onstage or in a diarama or something. It makes me feel a little uncomfortable even though I'm just constructing because I can't see out but anyone can see in. Tomorrow I shall go to Borders for a mocha, Home Depot (it's my new habit) and then work on the desk all day and see where I get.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Long week

I was so tired last night that I couldn't even write my blog, much less go to the garage and work on the Project. Kept falling asleep on the sofa before 10oclock even. D, trying to be macho, decided to go a whole day with no pain meds, so last night sucked. I think he finally took a codeine around 5 but that was after getting up every other hour and waking me up too.

I got a lot done yesterday morning though--got up early and worked straight through till I had to be at work at 11. Actually I got carried away and realized at about 10:15 that I still had to shower, dress, eat, and drive to work. Ooops. The left picture is the cabinet, before priming and painting. I wanted to commemorate its naked plywood state before covering it with primer, which is what I'm going to do tonight--if it's less humid and sticky than it is now. Tomorrow is my day off (!!) and I so badly wanted to paint--with color!--and get done with it. The othr is the desktop from beneath. This is all going much slower than anticipated--TV makes it look so easy! I must go to work now and pretend to be a banker, easier some days than others. My job no longer holds any kind of challenge for me.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Dylan and drama

The dogs just stole the T-bone off the counter and D is yelling at them--drama everywhere! The fact that he was going to give that bone to them later is apparently irrelevant. Work...well, it was Monday. Is that enough? It turns out that the girl I'm not so crazy about (who's quitting/getting fired) doesn't like dogs, or any animals at all really. Can I judge character or what? In the span of 15 minutes she told me that she wanted a big SUV and a tiny tea-cup Yorkshire terrier--because it's the only dog she likes. Because she can put it in her purse. Sometimes people say things to me that I really have no answer for. (Like, WHY???)

Tonight was the first half of the PBS miniseries on Bob Dylan. That would have been such an interesting time to live though or grow up in...I kind of envy my parents that sometimes. I wonder if in retrospect this era will be just as interesting and my kids could feel the same way. I love Dylan.

My cabinet is coming along great; hit a snag tonight though b/c it needs some caulk. D said he had a caulking gun so all I bought (in my now-daily trip to Home Depot) was the special painters' latex caulk. I can remember a time in the distant past when if I was buying specialty latex products it wasn't for woodworking projects...Anyways.
Came home: no caulk gun after all! Argh. Tomorrow I don't have to be at work till 11 so I can work on it then--if I don't decide to skive off and go to Borders instead for a mocha-and-browsing session.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Home Depot Day

Oh, that time of the month best known as, "well, at least I'm not pregnant..." I think my back is giving D's a run for his money. Arrrrgh.

Had a nice breakfast out with D, followed by a trip to the Home Depot. This is becoming an every other day event now. Spent the rest of the day working on the Desk: installed drawer slides, put the back on the cabinet, started working on the desk top. It's so weird to see something actually make the jump from my graph-paper pad to reality like this is. I just wish that I had tomorrow off from work too. A whole weekend would be so nice and peaceful, plus I could get so much stuff done.

I realized today one of the wierd things about the age gap between D and me; the music. What to me is classic rock is what he grew up with, so when the radio plays some B-side song that isn't played often, I have no idea what it is but he's singing along. Because he remembers it. Wierd.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

No hurricane after all.

Yay! Finally made some table-progress: I cut the wood (with a little help) and screwed the base cabinet together. Tomorrow after breakfast the drawer-slides go in, the back goes on, and I'll start building the drawers. The only bad part was that I broke the special counter-sinking drill bit that D bought me. It just snapped in half. I told my parents about learning to use the circular saw but they were pretty negative...kept acting as though I was going to lose a limb.

"D realizes you're left-handed, doesn't he?"--as though we haven't been together five years now.
"You're not using that thing without supervision, are you?"--um, why wouldn't I?

Work wasn't too bad either; not much business b/c everyone was scared of the hurricane and we all went in on some pizzas which really made my Saturday. Usually we all starve as there are no lunch breaks Saturday.

The only bad part of today was the utter lack of a hurricane. So much hype, so little action...I was kind of hoping for a nice big storm, lots of rain and wind and darkness. Oh well.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Ben and Jerry's

Not a bad day at all, really! Got to do the Long Trek with Alice this morning, and she made friends with some of the guys at Starbucks when we got there. Got not one but three referrals at work and balanced as well, plus it wasn't as horrendously busy as I feared. Got my power-saw lesson from D--that stuff is harder than it looks, for sure! After two physical therapy sessions, he's ever so slightly better; the fear of neck surgery has him putting his all into it.

Now, there's chicken 'n'rice in the oven and Ben and Jerry's in the freezer. Is there any better ice cream than Ben and Jerry's? It's another thing I miss from Vermont (where it's from). It's because it's so chunky, and I love chunky ice cream. Why have plain chocolate if you can have chocolate with white chocolate chunks, dark chocolate chunks, and two kinds of nuts? That's New York Super Fudge Chunk.

And no, I don't feel so much guilt about getting people to get credit cards. How they use them is their own business. What I wish is that the bank offered personal-banking classes; maybe to offset ovrdraft fees the way you can take dfensive driving to get out of a ticket. People just don't get how banking really works. Thy could include credit cards in the class maybe.

I re-vamped the design for my house-quilt to include a tree-house block, a castle block, a hobbit-hole block, a house-boat's lots of kinds of houses.

Tomorrow: finish cutting my plywood; predrill holes, start cutting the quilt. Why have one project going when you can have three?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Career Aspirations

Banking really irritates me sometimes. Especially working with a bunch of half-trained newbies and hearing my name called out again and again for help or for an override..."Mara!" "Mara!" "Mara!" gets really old in that context. Oh well, with that off my chest...

The training wasn't as bad as I thought b/c a lot of it dealt with loss-prevention--i.e. not cashing bad checks--which fascinates me. If I stay in this industry I hope to move in that direction; fraud and l.p. I haven't cashed any bad ones myself yet. I know I have an end-of-quarter review coming up with my boss and I don't know what to think about it. I'm better off than I was a quarter ago, but not good enough--September's referrals don't make up for July's, but she will see the sharp upwards trend, plus I've been so helpful in training (babysitting) the newhires lately...

I realize that if I want to move up or out from where I am now, I have to make myself promotable, which I haven't been doing to date. I've been goofing off; not at work precisely b/c I work my ass off while I'm there, but in planning ahead and treating my job like the jumping-off place that it should be. Instead I've just been going to work every day as though it's all I ever want to do. The main problem for a long time was just a misalignment of goals; I thought if I took care of 150 people a day and kept my drawer in balance, then I was doing pretty well. But all the bank really cares about is the referrals. I'd be doing better to help fewer customers and talk to each one more and sell them things--which I've known all along, I guess. I don't know exactly what I want to do next, but being in high standing here means that I can apply for other positions inside and get help from my boss, I hope.

Of course another underlying problem is that a (large) part of me is hoping to be 'great with child' by this time next year, which dampens my career ardor somewhat as I'd hope to cut back to part-time if I had a baby, which makes me a teller again, I think. I don't think there are a lot of other part-time positions. The benefits I have with the bank are too good for me too quit entirely--the health care alone would be worthwhile. Well, who knows what will happen in that field? I should go along job-hunting anyways: what if I can't get pg, or if D's shoulder thing is permanent?

So, tomorrow I shall refer as though the big cheeses are standing behind me and I shall do so from now on, because I have to if I ever want to not have to.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hurricane's a-coming...

As weird as it is, I feel slightly less homesick knowing there's a huge hurricane on the way. One of the things I missed about Texas was the dramatic weather--all we got in Vermont was the occasional blizzard. Work: boring but not bad: I've actually met my monthly goal for referrals for the first time ever, and it's only the 21st. Yay! All my wood is marked up and ready to cut, I just need saw instruction and, apparently, sawhorses.


This time of year makes me feel so homesick, if that's the right word, for Vermont. I grew up here in Texas, land of heat, Republicans, trucks and Cowboys fans, but after living 2 1/2 years up there, there's this achey feeling in the fall when Texas feels too flat and boring. Stale. I miss the lake, the kids in dreadlocks, the anti-Bush protesters, the weather--why can't we do crisp and cool and windy here? There's nothing like a stripey wool sweater to keep you warm instead of just in style. I miss the produce, the pick-your-own-everything, the farmers' markets. Even the normal grocery store up there had a produce department to be proud of. I miss the "moose crossing--beware of moose" signs every 100 feet on the road, and the fact that no road had more than two lanes--coming and going. I miss the concerned enviromentalists and my Western Herbalism class, and downtown Burlington that was 15 minutes from my house walking. I miss walking everywhere, leaving my car to hibernate in the driveway. I miss Speeder and Earls coffeeshop where my friend Becca worked, and Oakledge park where I took Alice all the time to run and run and run. That's what the picture is of. The colors in the fall up there are unbelievable: Vermont has a pre-skiing tourist industry based on showing folks the leaves. Those tourists made me feel smug, but I'd go now if I had the money. I miss my friends up there, even the Borders where I worked and the university. I even miss our creaky, tiny, impossible-to-heat-or-cool little house with all it's crooked doorways and slanted floors. In the fall you can fall asleep listening to the geese overhead; on their way from Canada, stopping over for a little while to catch their breath on Lake Champlain.

It's so boring here--you never wake up to three feet of snow and wonder where your car is under the drifts. I feel so lonely--besides D, everybody I know thinks that Texas is normal, even superior. I find myself seeking out people who've lived in New England. D tries to remind me about the winters, about the lack-of-light depression that fell on me like clockwork every year, about the lack of jobs. In September though, all I remember is Autumn.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


I went to the hardware stores (Lowes) after work today and bought all my plywood and screws and things to get started. It made me feel so ballsy, not in a masculine way but there's not enough words; to spend seventy bucks on heavy wood when I haven't the faintest idea what I'm doing...adventurous and charging-ahead. I must say I get better service there when I'm alone than when D is with me. The guys refused to charge me for cutting the big hunk of plywood into manageable pieces that will fit in my car, on the grounds that they were bored anyways. Nice. I can't actually get started tonight b/c D wants me to have a lesson before using his circular saw make the rest of the cuts...I can't say I blame him as I wouldn't let him use my sewing machine sans instruction either, and that doesn't cut off your fingers.

I figured out the problem with the wood-working books at the store; they're all for serious furniture made with wood and joinery: all about cherry versus oak, mortise-and-tenon and dove-tailing. Where is the book about screwing together plywood pieces and leftover lumber? Perhaps I shall write it.

D seems to be doing a little better with the pain medicine, although he is back in bed before nine again. I'm hoping the physical therapy tomorrow helps too.

Work was really boring for the millionth day in a row; I realize that I need to move on, up, or out but I have to improve my standing with the bank before I can do that. I'm actually preforming 'below expectations' because of the the referrals, but slowly I'm getting better. Right now I think I have 14 or 15 for the month and I only need 20; that's the best I've ever done so far. I just don't like selling people stuff, especially credit cards, the root of all evil in this culture. But if selling them credit cards gets me away from being a teller and into something more challenging and interesting, than bring it on, I say. Every other area--customer service, operations, drawer-balancing--I'm on top of already.

One of the new girls I work with has been sick for two weeks now. She's trying to get her insurance stuff sorted out to go the the doctor and get antibiotics; meanwhile two other girls have gotten sick too and my throat's all scratchy and raw. It doesn't look good...

I must go and mark all my wood, so that when D is ready I can make the cuts on the lines. And also do the yoga to get the good sleep. And inventory the fish tank. You wouldn't think that you could actually lose a fish, but we have. D's theory is that the other fish ate him; mine is that he floated to the top where the cat fished him out-no pun intended. So now, I count all the fish in the tank every other day or so, just in case.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Monday, monday

Spent the first part of that day calling doctors' offices, trying to make an appt. for D, then driving him to the doctor, waiting, driving him to the pharmacy...and keep in mind that when D is in serious pain, he's a serious pain in the ass: grumpy, loud, angry. Not my usual sweetie-pie. When I hurt, I go curl up in bed or in the tub and cry. He storms around the apartment kicking walls and swearing. It's exhausting, honestly; I was happy to go to work. It's times like this that make me remember why I never became, say, a nurse. I half want to hug him and half strangle; it's so hard when there's absolutely nothing I can do. (My inner Jewish Mother is dying to make chicken soup. Again.)

The doctor said it was not so much a pinched nerve as a herniated disk, and prescibed anti-inflammatory instead of muscle relaxers, hard-core painkillers, and thrice-weekly physical therapy. He goes back to work tomorrow.

Re-reading my two blogs from yesterday made me realize that what I really needed was to be away from this for a little while. I had spent several days in virtual seclusion with D and was irritable and small. A few hours out--at a bookstore, at my parents--left me refreshed and happy, ready to be back here again. The poor guy is all out of whack; he just went to bed and asked if I was coming. I said "in a couple of hours probably" which shocked him: he thought it was after 11:00 (it's 8:30.) D is the night-owl here but his body is all confused from the pain, the medicine, and from not working.

I only worked a half-day--5 hours--at the bank, which was strange to me. I guess I've finally adjusted to being full time. It was uncomfortable because one of the new girls, A, is on final warning already for being late all the time. I personally have no sympathy here--how hard is it to be at work on time? But since we were closing together, she confided to me that she was unhappy and probably going to leave soon if she wasn't fired first. She complained about the write-ups, claiming that, you know, stuff happens. I know I'm supposed to say- yeah, I know what you mean, 2:00 just sneaks up on you- but it's hard. I'm not much good at bullshit. If you want to keep your job, show up when you should. If you don't want it, quit. Last Tuesday, her excuse was this: "I lost track of time". So she doesn't just have a bad work ethic, she's uncreative! How about: traffic, laundry mishap, pet emergency, family problem, alarm clock broke, power outage, bad hair day, forgot my schedule, thought it was Wednesday--there are a million ways to say sorry, I tried to be here, it won't happen again (soon). She just can't be bothered. You can always tell the kids who still live at home and don't have rent or mortgage to pay. I won't miss her too much when she's gone, and she'll be happier somewhere more relaxed than the bank. I mean come on: it's a bank! Where all the rules are!

Disregard Previous Post...

Had to write a new post as I'm in a completely different place than I was this afternoon. I went to a bookstore (of course) and found

1. A display table devoted to the Jewish High Holy Days-- how cool is that?
2. A great book there called The Modern Jewish Girl's Guide to Guilt (pleasing your parents, hating your therapist, not worrying enough, finding the perfect Jewish man, divorcing the perfect Jewish man, not calling your mother, enjoying eggnog lattes, loyalty to Israel, RSVPing no, dating Goyim, supplying enough grandchildren, bacon cheeseburgers, academic perfection, becoming a Jewish mother, marrying a German. )

What a great book; it's a collection of essays by Jewish women, of course. It's funny how many of the pieces I relate to so far. I went to my folks for dinner which was fun. I said a few posts ago that I was proud that they hadn't even offered to buy my car tires: I spoke too soon. Still proud of turning them down though! Mom bought me a Halloween plate (think bright purple with ghosts, pumpkins, and bats on it) that's good for cookies and things. I cleaned the fishtank when I got home, which is a rather meditative experience. The aquarium exists as a kind of microcosm, so cleaning it is like cleaning up your whole life in miniature. Out, out nasty little snails that come from nowhere! Get thee gone! The houseplants love the aquarium water because it is so nutrient-rich, which is code for filled-with-fish-poop.

Now I'm watching My Hero on PBS and am quite content.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Today's been one of those get-things-done days filled with laundry, cleaning, vacuuming, cleaning out the vaccuum (double blech.) I think I'm going to go out and do something fun now before going to Mom and Dad's for dinner.

I broke down and told D about the desk today because he kept asking about it; also because it doesn't look like he's going to New Orleans after all, at least for this week, and I want to get started on it soon so he'd see it sooner or later. He's been absolutely miserable with the pinched nerve thing, and pain doesn't make him pleasant to be around. Poor guy, I want to put him out of his misery one way or another. I'm so not looking forward to this week between working all days, going to the stupid training thing, babying D and his shoulder, etc. Here's hoping it gets better!

Friday, September 16, 2005


Work was just weird in that floaty, disconnected way that exhaustion creates. I'm just praying that nothing I did will come back to haunt me; bad checks cashed, checks unsigned, etc. It's a miracle that I balanced my drawer at all--I came out a thousand dollars over at first because another teller gave it to me but forgot to sell it--the procedure that transfers the funds in the system from her drawer to mine. Luckily this made her a thousand short, so that was easy to fix. Still: rookie mistake that I usually wouldn't be involved in. I've been quizzing D about his tools and it turns out that his saws can't make bevels, so I'm back to the drawing board...but I love the drawing board so that's ok.

D and I have been invited to a Mexican wedding reception tomorrow night. Meaning not that it will actually take place in Mexico, only that the people, food, music, drinks, etc will be of Mexican origin. The only drawbacks are that we've never actually met anybody involved except the bride's sister, one of my co-workers. She just invited the entire bank yesterday. It sounds so fun, but I don't know if D will be up for it and I have nothing appropriate to wear to a wedding! My only dress is very "springy".

KK has created an issue by trying to give money in exchange for all the dog-sitting and etc. She felt bad about coming in so late last night to pick up her puppy even though I explained that an hour later we were up again anway. D was royally offended though (because he loves that dog and because she's family) and insisted that I return the $$, which she refused to take--this was just now, after he went to bed. Yes I realize that was before nine--the guy was up all night and is now on muscle relaxers. I'm going to bed soon myself--in bed before 10 on a Friday night: have I become suddenly old? Anyway, the $$ is in my purse now. KK said I should keep it but tell D that I didn't. I would have fought harder but her dog did just destroy another pair of my shoes and I really need new ones now. (She got the boots last month.)


….the worst night in a long time. D’s shoulder has been hurting him lately, for maybe two weeks or so. I thought he’d either pulled it or had a pinched nerve or something but it was getting worse and worse, probably because he never let it rest. Last night, though, the pain was unbearable in his neck and shoulder (which for him is really saying something—he’s pretty stoic) and he woke up with his left arm numb except for shooting pains from his shoulder to his elbow. I ended up driving him to the ER at two in the mornng, thinking heart attack? At forty? Oh God. It turned out that is was “just” a pinched nerve but we were there until 5:00am. It was miserable. They did the EKG while I did all the insurance stuff so I missed it; when I got back to his room D apologized for having to go to the hospital for something so minor. What, did he think that I’d rather he have had a heart attack, to make the trip worthwhile or something? In my mind, it makes up for my trip to the ER in Vermont, when I had to go in for poison ivy. (Don’t ask—but it was the worst rash any of the triage nurses or ER doctors had ever seen, or so they claimed.)
This is the first time in four years that D has been to any kind of doctor. He’s the kind of guy who, if he wakes you up in the middle of the night and says, “We need to go to the hospital”; you just go and ask why on the drive over. I told him that I’m putting him on a diet; fish and veggies, and trips to the gym until he’s lost 10 or 15 pounds. I don’t need another scare like this—because he is forty, he did smoke most of his life, and he is a little overweight (why have a six-pack when you can get the whole half-keg, right?) and he works too hard. It’s not that hard to imagine that next time it could be something worse than a pinched nerve. I guess he agreed because he agreed to the diet.
So, a Friday at the bank (busiest day for those who can’t guess) on roughly 3 hours of sleep; extra fun! I’ve devised a new system to my strange punctuality problem. What’s strange is that I’m one of those who are always on time or early, no matter what. And when I had to be a work at 7:00 in the morning every day, it was no problem, I was there at 5 minutes till. But somehow when the powers that be changed my in-time to 9 or 10, I get mixed up and three times now have rushed in either on the dot or a minute late; not my style at all. So now, I make sure I’m dressed and ready to go, dog walked, teeth brushed, etc, before doing anything nonessential like the dishes or going online. So far it’s working.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

God and Cosmo

We got some great weather today, dark, stormy, and windy. My favorite kind of atmosphere! It caused me to abandon some of my after-noon plans and make chicken stock instead. There’s nothing like making a huge witch-brew of chicken stock during a thunderstorm…it’s an otherworldly experience. Plus, it will help with dinner tonight, which is going to be experimental. What happens if you were to make a chicken pot-pie but instead of a crust top it with mashed potatoes like a shepherd’s pie? I think it could be really good...we shall see.
I got the new Cosmo at Borders today…that magazine is one of my guilty pleasures in life. “Inside the Mysterious Male Mind”—who knew that our fellow species-members are so difference and complex? Did you know that men fall in love faster than women? Or that they have 12% fewer brain cells in the language region of their brain? I actually could have guessed on both of those, but still… “8 Sex Truths You Don’t Know About Yourself”—how didn’t I know? It turns out that women who’ve gone to college are more apt to give and receive oral sex than those who haven’t. (Sure, it’s where they teach all that stuff. I knew I went for a reason.) Plus, “The Cosmo Beauty Awards”! For products, not people.
On a different note, God’s been on my mind today, partly because I think she was messing with me earlier. I was walking back home with Alice and it was really hot and sticky out, and I was wearing jeans…so I was just thinking about how nice a shower would be when it started raining. I don’t mean like 20 minutes later or something, but right that minute, just as I had the thought. Nice one. It got me thinking about the Hurricane Katrina disaster and how 3,000 years ago it would probably have been attributed to God’s wrath similar to Sodom and Gomorrah or the Great Flood. Too many Mardi Gras beads or something. It made me wonder how religion and history would have been different if the ancients (Jews in this case) had had our access to knowledge about weather, climate, etc. If S & D were just two cities built in the wrong place at the wrong time, or if Moses’ miracle had been viewed as just a conveniently low tide, instead of everything being credited to Divine anger or aid; the constant threat of an unpredictable and vengeful deity has shaped the course of human history until perhaps the last few centuries. It seems that the more we learn (or teach ourselves) about science, the more our cultural image of God changes, until Noah’s Flood goes from being a terrible tragedy and lesson to a cute wall-paper border for a nursery, with little smiling animals. Never mind that all the people died….
The righteously angry Old Testament God, full of plagues, disasters, and sacrifices, gets replaced by the New Testament God, who seems to be much more touchy-feely, loving-kindness. (Although I’ve never read the New Testament, so I don’t know the details.) Example: angels in the OT were scary creatures: the Elect, just as likely sent down to slay you as otherwise (see Dogma for details); now they are cute little things on bumper-stickers and embroidery patterns.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

on the hamster-wheel

I’m almost delirious about the prospect of having tomorrow off from the bank; I don’t know what I’ll do with myself! Actually that’s not true. I’ll do the Long Trek with Alice, clean up the apartment some, work on the Secret Plans for the Amazing Desk and the less-secret house-quilt, go to Borders (hello, Professor Lockhart!), do a little yoga, make something great for dinner….and bemoan the fact that next week I don’t get a day off at all. Stupid bank is making us all take a four-hour training class that just happens to fall on Thursday, so I’ll have to cover in the bank while half the staff takes the course, and then take it myself from 4 till 8. They will fix it so there’s no overtime either, which would at least make it worthwhile. I wouldn’t mind so much except that it’s actually a re-training course so they’re just telling us stuff we already know, not teaching us anything new. I like learning new stuff, even if it is just for work. I was just starting to get used to this full-time, two-days-off-a-week schedule to the point where I expected to only work five days, which is funny because for the first eight months with the bank, I worked every day but Sunday every week.
I realized that to build this desk, I need to buy a 4’x8’ sheet of plywood and have it cut to dimensions in the store because it won’t fit in my car whole and also because I’m not sure D’s saws can make really big cuts like that. So I have to know the exact dimensions for each piece before I get to the store. I hope I’m not getting in over my head here—those Home Depot guys can be so patronizing. Or, I’m just extra-defensive and under-confident and they’re just being nice. Cooking is so much easier…just throw it together and if it doesn’t work out, toss it. People don’t understand that there is no difference between being a good cook and otherwise. I always hear, “oh, I tried to make _____, but it turned out awful. I can’t cook at all.” Well, I’ve ruined pretty much every recipe in the book; you just have to start over, try again, practice.
Came home tonight to find D already making dinner—burgers. Wow-two nights in a row! I suddenly realize how good men have had it for all those decades (like the fifties) when they go off to work, come home, and eat dinner. Like all they have to do is work and everything else in life (food, kids, housework, shopping, laundry) just falls into place around him. So what happens when two people share all of the above but both work? D and I need a wife!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


As I write this my sweetie is making spaghetti. Is there any better smell in the world than onions sautéing? It’s a positively primeval feeling. And garlic bread. Garlic bread is primeval too. It makes up for the whole long, boring mind-numbing day laced with random depression and melancholy, and for the vicious fight for the remote-control that I won hands-down. (Hey—they shouldn’t run the premiere of Gilmore Girls opposite Nova…it’s a recipe for disaster. Usually I like Nova but this one was about the Big Bang theory which is really boring. And I’d been waiting for this GG all summer!)
It’s been the kind of day when I’d really like a drink, a glass of wine; but there’s none in the house. I’m so bad at drinking that if I open a bottle of wine I’ll have a glass but the other three glasses will sit in the fridge in the bottle until it’s only good for vinaigrette. I like recipes that require three glasses of wine…and wines that come in single-serve. This V-8 just isn’t the same, which is probably why they don’t make tomato wine…
My finances are in an awful state. I’m not in a position yet to absorb strange four-hundred-dollar costs like the new tires. I feel very adult though, not asking Mom and Dad for help. They are changing too; they didn’t offer—or force—any money on me. I guess they might be starting to see me as a grown-up, too. How strange. J My work schedule is having weird effects on my life. In the past two weeks, I’ve only been to a bookstore twice! And not to Half-Price at all. The folks at Barnes and Noble will think I’ve died…
If I have to choose (instead of doing both) I’ll go to Borders because it’s nicer. And the staff is friendlier. Plus I used to work for Borders so I have that nostalgic fondness for it. (Meaning, I like it better now than I did at the time, naturally.) Well, I’m going to sign off because I’m so tired that I’m afraid tomorrow I’ll look at my blog and think, “What was I thinking?”

Monday, September 12, 2005

My Dog Alice: by Mara

I got to do the Long Trek with Alice (dog) this morning before work…one of the many benefits of working the closing rather than opening shift at the bank. Alice is an unusual dog (I know because people are always asking, “what is that?” and I have to say, “It’s a dog…”) So, I have compiled the following history/ fact sheet for future reference.

9 things about Alice

1. She’s from the pound, or “shelter” as we say now. You can actually “check out” dogs there, try them out and bring them back in 48 hours if they try to eat the cat or something. Alice had been returned twice already, poor baby. I have no idea why. She was the saddest-looking thing in that place, which is saying something.
2. She was clearly abused as a puppy and was terrified of men when we got her. It took months for her to realize that D is a nice guy who doesn’t beat dogs and start to trust him. She’s nuts about him now, though.
3. She won’t eat if I’m not home, which is kind of cute except when I’m out of town and she goes days without eating anything. Then it’s just sad.
4. When she feels insecure (which is often) she “hugs”: she’ll stretch her neck across the face of whoever she’s sitting with. I’ve never seen a dog do this before.
5. She’s very quiet.
6. I let her get hit by a car once. She was fine, better than the car, but it’s still one of my darkest, most guilt-ridden moments in life.
7. She seems to have more than nine lives. D and I have seen her go through stuff that would kill most dogs: Shortly after we got her, she ingested more than 1 ½ pounds of high-quality baking chocolate, which is toxic (supposedly) to dogs. She jumped out the window of my car while I was driving. She ate most of a pincushion (with pins) and plenty of other stuff. And got hit by that car. That’s just what we know about; those first 8 or 9 months are still a mystery. Thank God she’s settled down a bit in her adulthood; she’s five years now.
8. She’s pretty ugly for a dog; a mutt that doesn’t look like anything if you know what I mean…you can’t say, oh, she’s half this and half that. More like, “well, I reckon that her parents were both mutts, and all her grandparents…I don’t think there’s a breed to speak of for several generations of her lineage.”
9. She’s intensely loyal to me and has bitten D for real before thinking that I was in danger. (I wasn’t. There are some things dogs don’t understand very well.) D thought it was great though (an attack dog!), and tries to get her to do it again sometimes.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Dream liabilty

So it turns out that D is not going to be gone for just one week, but for every other week indefinitely, alternating weeks in New Orleans and weeks here with his boss. He claims that this is how he described the situation to begin with, but it’s not—he clearly said “a weekend”, which somehow became a week, which is now several individual weeks. I’m going to need to find more projects, I guess.
Last night I dreamt that he left me for some other girl and woke up mad. I think that if someone pisses you off in your dreams that you have every right to be upset with them even if in “reality” they haven’t done anything. Otherwise, what’s the subconscious for? It’s telling you stuff; in this case probably the abandonment of my being left alone in Texas again while he goes to NO. A very long time ago (well before we were dating), D and I went camping together, and I dreamt then that he cheated on me with a tall brunette. It was very vivid and I woke up pretty mad. D tried to argue that as we weren’t going out nothing he did could be considered cheating, and that it was just a dream to begin with. Like that’s any kind of logic…typical man. He even tried to argue that my unconscious possessiveness of him might indicate romantic interest. By now he’s used to it and usually knows not to misbehave in my subconscience. As an aside—never go camping with that close guy friend who wants to be going out with you but isn’t—it may sound fun but it’s just ten kinds of trouble.
We went out today and got four new tires for my car, plus an oil change. I almost cried—400 dollars on something so mundane and un-enjoyable. It had to be done though; the old ones were bald and I was a good 2,000 miles overdue for the oil. At least now it doesn’t have the mud/snow tires on it from Vermont but regular all-weathers. Better for gas mileage and I need that pretty badly. Tonight is dinner at Mom and Dad’s which is usually fun although I know they’re going to get onto us about not having set a date for the wedding. I guess we should get moving on that but I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to weddings and stuff. If only we could just show up and have it all set.
I get to work all closing shifts at the bank this week—9 till 6:30. This is great compared to getting there at seven in the morning and getting off at 2 or 3, as there’s not so much to do in the afternoons and I can sleep in a little.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Read at your own risk...

…because I think I’m ovulating now. So funny how few women realize that their cycle has this great upswing and not just the PMS part …it’s a cool feeling. Scientists have done studies on women in college that showed that girls were 2 or 3 times more likely to go out with friends; to wear brighter, more revealing clothing; to go on dates; and to have sex during this week of ovulation than at any other time of month: their behavior is dictated in part by something they’re barely aware of.
It’s great though; the energy, the drive, the sudden concentration on the opposite sex and sex in general. It is the zenith to the PMS-nadir in the circle of the month. This must be what men feel like all the time—lucky bastards…J I think that guys notice it on a sub-conscious level as well. Two male customers at the bank today told me I had pretty eyes, but my eyes look exactly the same as they do the rest of the time, so I think it’s the extra pheromones or something. They just aren’t sure what it is that they’re noticing.
I have drawn all the plans for my desk/screen, now I just hope that I have the skill to put them together without D’s help. (Eeek: power tools!) He is leaving Monday after this coming one and will be gone for a week—this should be plenty of time to do the thing right. I am over-engineering the desk so that it will be very, very strong; I want to be able to climb on it without fear and to have the dogs crash into it without wobbling—not like that coffee table. I need to read a book on stenciling to figure out how to get the words painted onto the screen, Debbie Travis or something; Borders, here I come! (yay!)
My little sister KK got her new car today, to replace the one that was totaled in the wreck; a 2003 Honda Civic, 2-door, silver, ≤30,000 miles, sunroof. It’s pretty cute. I’m glad she got something out of this at least.

Friday, September 09, 2005


So last night, I tried to make a nice dinner: tilapia, corn salsa, broccoli. This is the easiest homemade meal ever; it cooks in 12 minutes and is pretty healthy too. But the corn salsa from Central Market was bad. Spoiled, turned, off. Gross. I can’t believe they were selling it like that--it couldn’t be that day’s batch! This has really shaken my confidence in CM and I love that place! Anyone who has a ‘thing’ for food would, and it’s halfway between my home and Borders—what could be better? I could spend hours in the produce department if it weren’t so cold in there.
I have decided to use the time that D is out of town to do a nifty craft project for the apartment involving building a desk for the laptop and a screen-type thing to stand behind it, with words on it. I need to gather quotes from friends to get the effect that I want. D will be so surprised when he gets home. This is a much better idea than last time, when I used the time he was gone to go on a juice-fast. It wasn’t so enjoyable and as far as I can tell had no effect whatsoever.
Usually D and I have an arrangement in which I design things and he builds them, but after the three-legged coffee table debacle I’ve lost some faith in the system. (He added an extra leg to my design to stabilize it but it still wobbles. It’s in the garage waiting for leg number 5. So sue me—I’m not an engineer.) So, he won’t expect me to build any furniture while he’s battling E. coli and etc in New Orleans. (I’m going with a very non-funky 4-legged design this time.)
I think I’ve discovered the main problem/ catch-22 of blogging—you’re supposed to share it with other people but the closer I am to anyone the less I like the idea of their reading my blog. How honest and personal could I be if my work-friends/fiancé/little sister/mom had access to it? I’d feel so limited in what I could say without being accountable for it. I feel more comfortable sharing it with people who aren’t a part of my day-to-day life.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Day Off!

Thursdays… I love Thursdays! It's always been one of my favorite days of the week, and now it’s my off-day from the bank, too. Just got back from taking the dog on the Long Walk: the trek to and from the Starbucks that’s about a mile and a half from home. Is there anything better than a long walk, an icy coffee drink, and a cold shower? We used to do it all the time, but between working mornings and it being so insufferably hot all summer, it’s become an occasional thing. Now that fall’s coming, we’ll do the Long Walk more often, I bet.
D is going to (to!)New Orleans next weekend: the hotel company that he works for (Omni) is the HQ right now for the police, army and Red Cross people there and they need engineers like him to get the hotel semi-operable. I suggested going with him since they need people for all sorts of stuff but he didn’t like that idea at all. This is a complete double standard since I know that he volunteered to go to save his boss from going three weekends in a row. He had to have a ton of vaccination shots yesterday, and came home from work all bandaided across the arms in Snoopy etc. I like colorful Band-Aids; life is too short for plain beige and they make me feel very cared-for. D hasn’t had so many shots since he was in the Army and he’s all sore now, poor baby.
I went to bed late last night b/c right when I was about to go, one of my favorite movies came on TV—The American President. I love it and if you’ve never seen it well, shame on you! It’s so funny and sweet and romantic. And Michael Douglas is very attractive in it. (Why? Why are he and Bruce Willis and above all Harrison Ford so yummy? Why is D 16 years older than I am? I have an excellent relationship with my father, Dr. Freud, but thanks for asking. I guess character is sexy.) That’s what I don’t like about having to list your favorite books and movies off the top of your head—you forget half the ones you like and get a crick in your neck trying to see your bookcase from the couch. Well, I must go now and do laundry and visit my bookstore. And clean the fish-tank for real this time.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Floating fish

Last night I dreamt that D and I were cleaning the aquarium and the fish just floated out: they could swim in the air as though it was water. It sounds like a cool dream but it wasn’t: every time we caught one fish to return it to the tank another one got out, and the cat kept going after them…this is why I don’t do hallucinogenic drugs...
I guess I should just be glad that I’m sleeping again. I know now why I couldn’t sleep before, though: my little sister was in a bad accident last week. She was fine, just a little bruised; the other guy was fine, even her puppy is ok. The car is totaled. I guess I kind of put it out of my mind since everything was ok, but now I keep thinking about it…the guy ran a red light and plowed into her side of the car, right into the engine…what if he’d hit her door instead—a split-second difference? Or if she wasn’t buckled up? She’s got a row of bruises across her waist where the belt held her in…I’m really freaked out by the whole thing. D says to let it go, obsessing and worrying about it won’t protect her or anybody else, but it’s just the way I am. I didn’t even realize that it was bothering me.

On another note, why is banking such a difficult concept for people? Everybody banks. Deposits, withdrawals, check-cashing, transfers…is this so hard? Try this out.

1. If you don’t have it, don’t spend it: a checking account is not a credit card. If you go past your balance and the bank extends funds to you, you will pay dearly for that privilege. At World Dominion Bank, it’s 34 dollars a pop, up to five times a month.
2. To get money or information from you account, you have to show ID. The more money you want, the more ID you have to show. Don’t go to the bank without your driver’s license or check card.
3. Don’t use the bank to do stuff you can do online, over the phone, or at the ATM. Why do people wait in line and clog up operations to check their balance?
4. Whatever your money problems are, they aren’t the bank teller’s fault. If we hold your check, it’s probably because you don’t have good credit with the bank. If you have 2 dollars to your name, that 5,000 check isn’t going to clear right away.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Sublime imsomnia

Well, I think I know why I was blue last night—maybe I just subconsciously knew that it would be another insomnia-ridden night. You know: drifting off to sleep only to jerk awake for no reason at all: repeat continuously until dawn. Having random Sublime lyrics running through my mind (She had rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes/ And I knew without asking she was into the blues) on a loop and alternately staring at D thinking how cute he is sleeping and really despising him for daring to be asleep when I can’t (She wore scarlet begonias tucked into her curls/ I knew right away she was not like other girls) It’s been five years now and still he wonders why he wakes up with bruises. I poke him for sleeping. (na na na na na naaa naaa…) Insomnia has never been that great for my sanity and reasonableness. (Well there ain't nothing wrong with the way she moves/ All scarlet begonias and a touch of the blues) When I woke up it was with that awful, I-have-to-face-the-whole-day-feeling-like-this fuzziness. (And there ain't nothin’ wrong with the love that's in her eyes/ I had to learn the hard way just to let her pass by.)
Today wasn’t bad though. Usually, the day after a bank-holiday is so frenetically busy that it negates the holiday entirely: we would rather give up our day off than deal with the morning-after. Today it was busy, but in a bustling, manageable sort of way. Sometimes if I don’t get enough sleep the next day I get these super-alert periods, where everything is really lucid. Maybe my fragile, sleep-deprived system is just especially susceptible to the caffeine (I love you, coffee. You’re my friend!) and reacts more strongly to it than usual, I don’t know. The most thought-provoking part of work today was that a co-worker of mine told me in the vault* that she’s crazy about some guy she knows, can’t stop thinking about him, etc. Apparently she’s felt like this for a year, and he’s just not interested. This may not seem weird to you, but she’s one of those girls who’s so pretty that when you meet them, you just think “no fair. She’d better be dumb or mean or something to make up for looking like that.”—which she isn’t. (I mean if you’re a girl you might think that. I’ve no idea what guys think. Well, some idea actually… but not this guy.) I know that there’s no guarantee at all for getting who you want, even when you’re a 19-year-old Salma Hayek look-alike, but still…Maybe he’s gay or something. I’m going to take a nap now, before D gets home (let her pass by. na na na na na naaa naaa…)

*If you work in a bank, the best part about the vault is that it’s pretty much soundproof and always locked. Good for gossip and confidences. Oh, and for counting the money, which is what we should have been doing.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Weekend-end Blues

So, the barbeque was a little weird, but not too bad. It turned out that it was more my co-worker's husband's party, with all the wives and girlfriends inside chatting and them outside drinking. But their conversation seemed to be in Spanish and as D didn't know a one of them anyways, he ended up inside with me, at the girl's table. None of them really knew each other which was good for me. (because I didn't know them either)

The whole thing made me realize that in the past, I've always been in the guy's circle, playing poker or discussing arcane things or whatever. Never only with other girls... Maybe it's the whole couple-party thing, instead of normal single people, I don't know.

I hate that Sunday-night depressed feeling about the weekend being over. Back to work and all. I even like my job and I still feel like that. I don't know why, it just looms over me. But, I made a really good dinner tonight--brisket, mashed potatoes, cabbage, carrots. Irish-style. There's nothing like mashed potatoes from scratch to cheer one up, is there?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Barbeque anxiety

I have to go to a barbeque tonight. This may not seem bad, but then you aren’t me. One of the new girls at work is having it out at her house, which is a good half-hour away from us. I mean, she has chickens and goats—clearly not the suburbs…
I don’t know if anybody else from work is going to go, but I said that I would come, and bring D too. So I might not know anybody there except him and the host. Did I mention earlier, Mara= introverted and shy? I hate not knowing people at a party. Or BBQ. Whatever. This girl that I work with, she’s very insecure and a little needy, always asking if she’s doing things right and constantly apologizing for everything. To the manager, to us, to the customers…she’s the type who if she bumped into a wall, would probably apologize to it. The thing is that if someone is continually saying “I’m sorry” then it forces you to say, “Don’t worry about it.” Or, “It’s ok, it’s my job to help you, you’re new.” Or “we all start at the beginning, blah, blah, blah.”
Sometimes, I don’t feel like saying polite nice things, I just want to figure out where her money went, find it, and get back to my own window. (We work in a bank, hereby to be known as Global Dominion Bank)
So you can see why I have to go to the party, because what if nobody else from the bank goes? She’s already got an inferiority complex, she’ll think nobody likes her when in reality she lives really far away and it is 100 degrees outside.

On the plus side, I got a great idea from going to the Plano Quilt Show with my mom. (If you like to make quilts, then the shows are great, otherwise it’s a torture chamber…or so I’m told.) There was a quilt there make from vintage Rock tee-shirts, like The Who, The Doors, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Def Leppard, Jimi Hendrix…it was such a cool quilt! I thought, it’d be so cool to make a quilt that really expresses my interests…like Harry Potter!! I’m going to make a Harry Potter quilt! Right after I make the one that’s in the pipeline now, with houses on it.

9 things...

So, I am starting this on the advice of an acquaintance-friend of mine who has one. I’m going to assume that no one will ever read it, because who would want to, really? I never kept a journal before. All names other than my own have been changed for my protection. In order for my mind to make any sense at all, I’ve made the following list:

9 things you might want to know about me but most people don’t

(…actually, I don’t think there’s anybody who knows all of them)

1. I’m kind of introverted and a little shy. I don’t mean that I have no friends or anything, just that I make friends slowly. I keep moving across country so that the friends I had in my first two years are in Texas, my second two years in Vermont. Now I’m back in TX and my old friends are in grad school all over…you get the picture. I have small circles of close friends, not large groups. I like my alone time, too. My boyfriend, hereby known as D, is the same way, but he’s not so much shy as anti-social. I love him though. :)

2. Raging, militant feminist.

3. I’m absolutely obsessed with Harry Potter. I mean multiple re-readings, theorizing, fan-site posting…I try to keep this kind of quiet as I pose as a ordinary adult (?) most days. I actually have entire acquaintances that started with the simple, “so, have you ever read Harry Potter?” Yes. My name is Mara, and I have a HP problem. (Hello, Mara!)

4. I’m a good cook. I look even better because so many people can’t cook at all, so they’re easily impressed. I once thought I’d be a professional chef but my plans changed.

5. My fiancé, D, is 16 years older than I am. It’s normal now for us but it other people freak out about it. It’s not like I go around dating guys his age usually; obviously, it’s a unique situation.

6. Amateur quilter.

7. I was a fairly unattractive, awkward adolescent. (Did I mention shy, earlier?) Even though I’ve evened out to be reasonably attractive/ normal looking, I’m inwardly surprised if anybody hits on me. Unless it’s pathetic old guys. I swear if for some reason I’m single when I’m in my forties/fifties, I will not hit on the twenty-old guys. Anyways, it’s weird the way those early experiences shape us, isn’t it?

8. Even though I’m in a solid relationship—marriage-bound—I have crushes on other people. D and I have been together for 5 years now. The first time it happened I freaked out a little, but now I know that it’s normal, for me at least. If I ignore it, it goes away. So far: one friend, two coworkers in Vermont (including one girl—odd), a supervisor here in Texas (but at my old job)… My guess is that it’s the endorphins or something (see number seven).

9. I’m pretty young, (24 at the moment) but I really, really want to start a family. This is just a polite PC-way of saying that I fervently want to have a baby. (by “baby” I actually mean lots or several) You may not think this is that odd but the weird thing is that I’ve always been like that! Even before I was, umm, equipped to have babies at all. My fiancé claims that I start at least one conversation a week with “When we have a baby, we’ll…”

welcome to my life.