Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Random Baby Moment

Do you know what this thing is? It's some kind of interesting combination between stuffed animal doggie and blankie. I was eating lunch yesterday at Bodo's Bagels, reading the paper, minding my own business. When this baby--for no apparent reason--toddled up to me, eyed me seriously for a moment, and handed me his... doggie-blanket-thingie. Not in a dismissive I'm-finished-with-this-now way, but very earnestly; it was as though he had decided that out of all the good folk eating their lunch at Bodo's, I alone could truly appreciate the specialness of a well-chewed blankie.

He was quickly followed by an apologetic guy about my age, who rescinded the dog-blanket, scooped up the child, made quick small talk (I'm just the baby-sitter, he's one year old, so sorry, wave bye-bye to the nice lady) and left. The whole thing was weird but slightly touching.

I have lost internet access at home because the modem is dead, dead, dead. BAD modem. I think I may have a slight 'problem' re: being online (like, addiction?) because in retrospect being offline for a few days shouldn't be that big of a deal, right? But I was distraught. 2 days until my vacation, though! Which will be a fairly internet-free vacation, which will be healthy.

Friday, December 15, 2006


We live in a very goal-oriented society, don't we? Everything in life is meant to go by plan, ticked one-by-one off of a list, never left to chance. I've always disliked the question, "So what do you want to do with your life?" because I don't think that life is something to plan. Oh, we make decisions, accept jobs or quit them, move from city to city... we build our lives bit by bit, stage by stage. But I don't know anybody who had a master plan at the age of, say, 20, and followed it faithfully. Most of us are more likely to try something, re-think, try something else. When Don finished high school, he went to school to become an auto-mechanic. A turn of fate and a broken ankle brought him to construction instead. At 19, he joined the army, which took him to Germany, where he began learning the rudiments of hotel maintenance and engineering. Each turn builds on the last. If someone had asked him at 18 what he wanted to do with his life, he would have replied with auto-mechanics. At 25, he wanted to retire with the army. Even now, it's impossible to know what he'll be doing in 10 more years. When I was 18, I wanted to be a chef. In college, I thought about finance-- stocks, fund management, the works. Now? I have no idea. I don't have a master plan. I'm letting my life take it's own twists and turns and seeing where it takes me. So why does everything have to follow a script?

One example: marriage proposals. When Don and I announced that we were engaged, it seems like everybody wanted to know "how he did it", because there's this pervading media-driven idea that a proposal should be a carefully thought-out, planned event. It should include any or all of the following: bended knees, expensive jewelry, a prepared speech, tears, and a "theme" that speaks to the couple's relationship--a ballpark? a restaurant? a movie theater? How he did it? How about very late one night, after a long conversation, in bed, in the dark. Cuddled up together talking about the future, he asked...Would I marry him? And I would. Not planned, not well-reasoned with a list of pros and cons, but a spontaneous, from-the-heart proposal.

Another life event that's supposed to go by plan: kids. Having a baby is supposed to be carefully decided upon. Conception is something that is absolutely supposed to go as planned; a goal to achieve or not, a 'done' on a to-do list. There is a continuum of conception from absolutely trying not to get pregnant to doing everything within one's power to get there, but it is a continuum with a rather large gap in the center. On the far end of the scale is sterilization-- a tube-tie or vasectomy. Then various forms of birth control, from the draconian IUDs/shots/etc to loosey-goosey condoms. Then an abrupt shift, from actively preventing pregnancy to courting it, to "trying"; all the way up to the invasive in-vitro procedures and etc . This is why any time a woman gets pregnant, the couple is asked if it is "planned". Which I would find incredibly rude, but hey maybe that's just me. Why not just ask, "So, did you actually *want* this kid?"

What ever happened to the middle ground of the spectrum? What about not-trying-not-preventing, about leaving things to chance, about letting nature take its course? Is there still room in this world for chance, for spontaneity? Don and I probably won't start "trying" to make a baby until after the wedding, but for the time being, we're existing in this happy middle ground of "well-let's just-see-what-happens". This approach seems to have worked for humanity for millennia, before we felt the need to control every aspect of existence, and it's fun too. So, if I end up writing a "surprise-I'm-pregnant" post, please don't ask if it was "planned", or if we were "surprised", or whatever. Instead, consider it serendipity.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Rant, part 2

Christmas music is annoying. No matter how you much you may actually *like* Christmas songs, by the time December is half way over. . . .it's headache season! What's really bugging me is how the Holiday Season is taking over songs that aren't even related to Christmas, so that 'Silent Night' is for some reason followed by 'My Favorite Things'-- which, hello, is from The Sound of Music and has zilch to do with Christmas, Generic Holiday, or even Winter. Basically there are four categories of "Christmas" songs, although I use that title loosely.

Category One: The Old-Fashioned, Religious Songs.

These are the old classics that stem from the time when Christmas had some sort of religious meaning. 'Silent Night', 'Away in a Manger', 'Little Drummer Boy', and 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing' fall into category one. It's actually a small category, because they ain't making more like those, for obvious reasons.

Category Two: Songs about Santa, shopping, and the Christmas Season

Somewhere along the way, Christmas went from being a single day+ evening to being the entire block of time between Thanksgiving and New Years. These songs celebrate the non-religious social side of Christmas. There are lots of songs about reindeer, Rudolph and Santa, like 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town', 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer', and 'Santa Baby' (my personal all-time favorite Christmas song). There are lots of songs about general festivity and togetherness, like 'We Wish you a Merry Christmas' and 'The Most Wonderful Time of Year'.

Category Three: Songs about Winter That Do Not Mention Christmas in any Way, Shape or Form.

Have you ever really listened to the lyrics of 'Jingle Bells'? Really? Are you aware that it is not actually a Christmas song? There are many songs about winter, snow, and weather that could apply equally to December or February (or May up north). 'Let it Snow': not a Christmas song! Don't believe me? (link) Same with Sleigh Ride. There is one line in Sleigh Ride about going to a Christmas party, but the original lyrics are about a birthday party. 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' seems to have been added to this list of non-Christmas winter-time songs, although it's slightly scandalous to go from 'Little Drummer Boy' to 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' without any kind of segue.

Category Four: Totally Random Songs That Have Nothing Whatsoever To Do With Christmas or Even Winter in Any Way.

Umm, 'My Favorite Things', anybody? Yes, it mentions snowflakes, but there are also raindrops, kittens, ponies, wild geese, spring...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Please Don't Annoy the Barista

This whole 2-jobs thing is starting to come together; I'm falling into a routine, a pattern. My body is adjusting for the most part, and I'm sleeping like a rock between shifts. Except for the fact that I have no time to do anything but work, eat, and sleep, things are going well. Last night I got home a little after 8 from the bank's holiday dinner (much fun and frivolity there)... I was in bed by 10 and slept for 11 glorious hours. I just wish I could keep up with the house, the laundry, my friends, family... I talked to my mom this morning for the first time in 2 weeks. Two things really keep me looking fowards, though.

My vacation. Just 12 more days and I'll be flying back to Texas to spend a glorious 11 days with my family, vacationing out at Big Bend.

The idea that this whole situation may be temporary. There's a good chance that the bank will be increasing my hours to almost full time, which would decrease the need for supplementary income. I should know in the next week or so.

So, maybe the bookstore-gig will be a short blip in time, which is good because being back in the Land of Books and Coffee makes me remember everything that annoyed me about coffee-orderers before. I already have one customer-service-oriented job; two makes me a little spazzy.

Customer: This frappacino is a little slushy. Could you remake it so that it's 'thicker'?

Me: Bite me! I mean, um, of course I can.

I think that there should be clear guidelines on ordering a drink. Like modifiers. Nobody should be allowed to use more than two modifiers on any one drink. Modifiers would include things like non-fat, soy, extra-hot, decaf, whatever. Because you know that thing in When Harry Met Sally, where Meg Ryan's character takes half an hour to order anything? Nobody but Harry thinks that's cute. And the waitress is definitely not laughing.

So a grande gingerbread latte, extra-hot no whip? OK! A soy decaf latte? Good! A caramel macchiato, lite on the syrup but with whipped cream? Fine! A grande gingerbread latte, but with soy milk, decaf espresso, no whip, no foam, and extra hot? For God's sake, get a life! You are nowhere near as important as you seem to think; just order a damn drink like everyone else. Thank you, and have a great day.

Whipped cream?

It's a yes-or-no question. Either you want it, or you don't. Do not say, "A little", "some", or "extra" in regards to whipped cream. Because those cups we mark? There's only room for a check mark, or a single word. the cup does not provide room for an essay on how you prefer your beverage. And by the way? Whever reason you had for choosing soy milk is kind of obliterated if you pile whipped cream on top of it.


Kid's drinks, especially hot chocolate? We understand the not-too-hot-please. Taking your drink on the road? Extra-hot is ok. I mean, sure it kinda ruins the milk to scald it like that, but hey, you asked. Do not give us a temperature, please. It is weird and kind of insulting to say, "Steam the milk to 140 degrees, if you would." Ok, do you work in the industry? If you're THAT PROUD of your espresso-machine knowledge, just wear your little apron everywhere you go, it's less of a headache.


I'm with you here, people. I'm very caffeine-sensitive, and I drink only decaf after 5pm or so. But asking 500 times, "That's decaf, right?" as the barista makes your drink? If you are *that* worried about it, get an herbal tea or a hot chocolate or something. Because yeah, sometimes we do mess up, it's happened to my own beverages at times.

Just Plain Coffee

This is to all of you people that sneer at the idea of an espresso-based beverage and would rather drink truck-stop coffee than a Maple Machiatto. You know, that's ok. For every frou-frou drink, we probably sell three cups of drip. But there is no need to swagger up to the counter, squint menacingly at the menu board, and demand whether we have 'just regular coffee' while muttering about 4-dollar coffee drinks. Of course we serve coffee, and most people can order it politely, without sneering at the entire establishment. I'm sorry that our fancy-pants-four-dollar-coffee gives you an inferiority complex that you have to hide beneath bad manners; if a 50-cent cup of really bad coffee is what you want, there's a gas station on the corner.

I'm not the kind of food-service person that would spit in a drink, but I just might switch your non-fat for whole if you annoy me enough.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gifts, or, Why Dumbledore wanted socks

Yesterday I was listening to this NPR story, which is about giving real presents versus money/ gift cards, and it really made me think about gifts, what we give, and why they matter. Because, they do matter.

Apparently, economists have long argued that giving cash is much more efficient ("better") because when buying a present we either get exactly what the receiver would have bought with the cash, or else get something they would not have bought, and therefore don't really want, therefore rather wasting the money that would have better been given as cash.

This is basically nonsense, though, as the guy on the radio pointed out. First of all, why assume that I would buy myself nice things if I had cash? I've got bills to pay, some debt to deal with, a house to save for. If someone gave me fifty dollars as a gift, most likely I'm not going to buy something fabulous with it, I'm going to spend it on next month's rent and electricity or else sock it into savings. That doesn't mean that I would value cash more, just that the economists don't take into account the complicated relationships people have with money. For example, when I graduated from college, my parents bought me a piano, which is the nicest thing that I own. It's a beautiful upright, shiny black, that dresses up the whole room and makes me want to take lessons again . . . It's a completely frivolous, impractical, luxury item, and I love it. I would never have bought myself a piano, though, if they had just handed me a wad of cash or a check, instead. I would have to be in a place financially in which everything else was taken care of, before I could ever, ever spend a big chunk of money on something like that. Gifts are often a luxury that we would not buy for ourselves.

Secondly, (and this was the main point that this new study makes) people value gifts, whatever they may be, especially because they're gifts. So what if I would never have bought yourself that paticular coffee mug-- Aunt Sue gave it to me and therefore I love it! This contradicts the either-it's-perfect-or-else-a-waste-of-money idea that the economists go by. Gifts gain in value simply by being given. You can't put a price on that warm fuzzy ya get from looking at or using a gift that was given by someone you care for, whether or not it was originally something you'd buy yourself.

Personally, I have a hard time parting with anything that was given to me. I'm especially noticing this now, because with this un-friend-ing thing that I'm going through; I've noticed more and more things that I have that were gifts from her, that I've held on to for years and years just because... can't get rid of gifts! Ever! Now, as we're still unpacking boxes (the stuff not necessary for day-to-day life like photos and knickknacks) I realize that I've held onto every gift and card that she ever gave me, like this purple ceramic... thing made in 7th-grade art class that has been at various times a flowerpot, a colored-pencil holder for my desk, and a spatula-and-spoon holder on my kitchen counter. It has that lumpy, endearing, hand-made look that usually only moms love, but I was so fond of it because it always reminded me of my friend, and since it was from seventh grade, it always made me think of how long we'd been friends... now thinking about that is painful, and I'm still trying to decide whether to keep this thing or not. That's the power of gift-giving, though. It creates something precious out of a lumpy, sparkly-purple ceramic thing that you wouldn't buy for a quarter at a garage sale.

The thing is, gifts say something about the relationship between the giver and the givee.

"I know you, and know what you'd like".
"I love you, and want you to have something nice".
"I don't know what I'm doing, but at least I'm trying. "
"I'm your mother and want you to have warm feet."

Exchanging gift cards--or cash-- doesn't really express a relationship the way that gifts do. Time and thought go into gift-purchasing or -creating. My mom gives me socks every year for Chanukah, sometimes pajamas and things, and it means a lot to me. Sure, she could give me 50 bucks or a Target gift card and I could go out and buy some socks, but the gift expresses something more than its cash value.

In Harry Potter, Dumbledore doesn't want socks in the first book, when asked what he sees in the Mirror of Erised that shows the heart's desire. Obviously he could go out and buy socks-- the thick, woolen socks that he mentions to Harry. What Dumbledore wants is to be given socks. His heart's desire is not for footwear (which apparently confused some readers) but for the kind of loving relationship that would result in a gift of socks. After all, who would give an old man (even a great, powerful, old man) socks? Who gives a gift that says, "I care about your personal comfort and warmth", a gift like the handmade sweater that Harry just received from Molly Weasley? A wife, a daughter, a grandchild? All Dumbledore ever got was books.

Kids... really just an excuse to play with toys

Don and I have a holiday tradition of getting one of the Salvation Army angels instead of buying presents for my parents, who already have everything they want or need. So we spent Saturday shopping for someone that we had only the barest information on, which is difficult. First. Why is all the boy's clothing at Target non-cotton? Is it that hard to sell shirts and things that are 100% cotton and reasonably good quality? Old Navy does it... Old Navy turns out to have better clothing at better prices than Target as far as little boy stuff goes. But, they don't sell Thomas trains.

Second. The Salvation Army in Texas went into a lot more detail and care than the one here. They give out an informational brochure that explains what to buy, how much to spend (they reccomend about 100 dollars), what to do with your purchases, etc. They give a stack of labels and big bags, so that you can write the serial number of your 'angel' on a label and stick it to each shirt, toy, whatever, to ensure that they end up with the right kid. And each 'angel' card has a wants and needs list in addition to all the clothing sizes, so that it says something like this: "Joey, age 4, sizes blah blah blah, needs winter coat, shoes, and jeans. Wants Spider-man stuff." Because the point is to provide a 'complete' holiday for that child, with the toys they want and necessities to get growing kids through the rest of winter.

The SA here does not give brochures, tags, or bags. They don't give a suggested spending amount. Their Angel cards don't list needs/wants, just the size of the child and their desired toy, so that ours said "Joey, age four, sizes..., Thomas the Tank Engine train." So basically, if I hadn't been doing this for years and was new at this I would assume that all I was supposed to do was... buy a toy train! My mom always stressed the winter coat, shoes, and jeans. So basically I'm wondering about what these SA angels get, compared to the ones back home.

When you're with someone like Don (i.e. boyish, likes toys, still in love with trains), never stand in front of the Thomas the Tank Engine display and say, "Ok, Don, pretend you're 4. Which Thomas train set do you want?" Because you will be at that Target display for 20 minutes, examining each train, and walking out with the biggest, most expensive ThTE train set that Target offers--but the coolest, according to One Who Knows Trains!

Third, the Salvation Army informational thingie said that our little guy wears a size-12 toddler shoe. Does that mean that he wore a size-12 at the time the form was filled out which was probably over 6 weeks ago and now he wears something bigger and size-12s would be too small? From what I understand kids go through shoes really fast, right? Or are the powers that be thinking ahead and filling out the form with the size that they think he'll be wearing by Christmas, when this stuff will be received? Because we found a pair of size-12 Thomas the Tank engine shoes! Which will either be totally cool or really dissapointing depending on the fit.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Christmas Ramble

The weather here has finally turned winter-y, and it feels holidayish. Last night it even snowed, for about ten minutes. I was finishing up in the cafe when I looked up to see the snow swirling under the parking-lot lights, something I haven't seen since Vermont. Speaking of which, it turns out that my supervisor is from Burlington. Not just Burlington, but the very neighborhood that Don and I lived in. He described the area in such detail (going over his childhood paper-route) that I felt very nostalgic and homesick for a moment. It's funny how easy it is to be homesick for a place I only lived in for 2 years, while Texas still doesn't inspire much of that feeling and I grew up there. I'm sure spending another (6-month-long) winter in Vermont would cure me pretty quick, right Becca?

I'm noticing this year that I've become much mellower and less cynical about "the holidays" than I was in years past. As a non-Christian, Christmas means exactly nothing to me as a holiday, and I've had trouble trying to figure out why it is THE HOLIDAY, the day that controls everything from television to the stock market to travel. "Christmas" seems so far removed from any religious meaning that I actually sympathise with the put-Christ-back-in-Christmas types trying to reclaim what would seem to be the most important (?) holy day of their faith. Christmas is *actually* about the following (according to all T.V. commercials, movies, songs, and other culture-bearers of our time): Family. Spending time with family. Food. Showing love, ideally by buying the right presents. Presents. Santa Claus. Shopping. Chocolate. Shopping. Presents. Family. They keep re-running these awful old Christmas movies from when Don was a kid (probably earlier) that all seem to be clay-mation or puppet-based and feature Santa, Mrs. Claus, Rudolph, and various elves.

Don has tried to convince me to have "Christmas spirit" by calling me the Grinch, and by insisting that there's absolutely nothing Christian about it and to see it as a fun excuse to decorate, bake cookies, drink eggnog, light candles. Each time I say, "Spell it, Don. Spell the word Christmas. C-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s. " I basically stand by my refusal to celebrate the birth of a religion that has nothing to do with me. But like I said, lately I'm mellowing and trying to take a broader view.

To the marketing executive, government officials, and other powers-that-be, the fact that so many religions have holidays that converge in December must seem like a god-send. It's not so PC in this wonderfully diverse, separate-church-from-state country to make everything Christmas, and so we get "holidays" instead. Holiday greetings, holiday season, season's greetings. Holiday cookies. Wonderful coincidence, that Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa et al coincide like that and give us the generic Holiday, right?

Not much of a coincidence really. We're all celebrating the same thing, and it's not what our respective religions would dictate. More like a primal human urge to fight the darkness and cold that descend each winter, to thumb our noses at the darkest night of the year--the Winter Solstice--with light, noise, and celebration. The most basic of human instinct covered with a thin veneer of religion. The more I consider this, the less annoyed with Christmas I feel; it's just the modern, American version of an ancient tradition. After all, what are the symbols of Christmas? Light, light light... lights on houses, trees, everywhere. Neighborhoods and townscapes lit up at night. Christmas trees, wreaths, and greenery that celebrate the fact that even in the dead of winter, something is green and alive--does a Christmas tree or sprig of holly have anything to do with Christianity? Nope. And there's the feasting and song, gathering together as kin and friend. Chanukah is also celebrated with light, song, and food. So, I think I'll go bake some cookies, and celebrate humanity's triumph over the dark night.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Customer Service

I like working with people. Really I do. It makes my day interesting and connected. But sometimes the naivety, the inexperience, the sheer airheadedness of some of my customers just amazes me. Everyone knows what Darwin Awards are, right? The "award" given to those people stupid enough to accidentally kill themselves, thereby taking themselves out of the genepool? I'm proposing a new honor for financial idiocy. Instead of losing your life, you lose your money! I'm thinking I'll call it the Franklin Award.

ATMs take customer deposits. Pretty simple, really; insert card (as for every other transaction, yes?) enter PIN (again, just like taking money out or checking the balance) and from there choose the "Deposit" option and follow instructions. Eventually you insert an envelope containing said deposit of checks or cash into an envelope-slot on the machine. The slot is only "open" or activated during the deposit process to keep random things from being shoved into it and to make sure that each deposited envelope receives a printed validation from the machine.

I've seen some pretty weird stuff when sorting the ATM deposits: someone who decided against an envelope and inserted individual bills into the machine, one at a time; someone who attempted to deposit coins. But the other day we had a girl come in and complain that her ATM deposit never got posted to her account.

Turns out she was skipping that whole "use your ATM card at the ATM" thing and merely shoving the envelope between the ATM and the wall. Like, into this narrow little crack (not really even big enough to fit the envelope into!) where the wall-mounted ATM sits against the drywall. How did she think that this qualified as "making a deposit"? HOW? My supervisor was on the phone with the ATM people all that morning, trying to find out if they could send a technician to dismantle the ATM and get this winner her check back.

Seriously, Franklin Awards! They'll catch on! The really funny thing is that she insists that she's been "making deposits" this way for two years, and that they've all gotten into her account fine. Yeah, and I send mail by owl post and it always arrives!

You are The Tower

Ambition, fighting, war, courage. Destruction, danger, fall, ruin.

The Tower represents war, destruction, but also spiritual renewal. Plans are disrupted. Your views and ideas will change as a result.

The Tower is a card about war, a war between the structures of lies and the lightning flash of truth. The Tower stands for "false concepts and institutions that we take for real." You have been shaken up; blinded by a shocking revelation. It sometimes takes that to see a truth that one refuses to see. Or to bring down beliefs that are so well constructed. What's most important to remember is that the tearing down of this structure, however painful, makes room for something new to be built.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Well, that's surprising. Go figure...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

The neverending post

The weather here has been freakishly beautiful the last week or so, with balmy 60-degree days instead of the late-November freezing coldness that I would expect. I know that any day now it will revert to normal, but it's so nice. It makes everything more enjoyable-- my walks with Alice, even just getting to work. Every day I walk through the University grounds and past this chapel, which I just love. (I didn't take this picture, obviously. Stock internet photo.) From the outside it's like a tiny, ancient-looking cathedral, all stone arches, Gothic towers, stained glass, and gargoyles. You know, Hogwarts-y. Inside it's just dark and religiousish. It's completely different than the rest of the campus, which is all red-brick federal-style buildings. Also pretty, but not as loveable.

I've been feeling a little sick lately, nothing awful but a persistent sore throat and low-grade fever. It's probably from the sudden increase in stress and activity from the second job, working such long hours. The fever has been giving me funky weird dreams, especially revolving around my former-friend-drama from last month. Dreams in which we're shopping, having fun. Suddenly she's on the other side of the store and refuses to look at me even as I'm trying to walk over, and the store gets bigger and bigger. The logical side of my mind has decided to let the whole thing go, to recognize that there are a lot of issues involved, that aren't mine to deal with. To recognize the fact that neither the friend nor the friendship were what I thought they were. But I guess the ol' subconscious hasn't been listening to the rational.

This post has taken me days to actually finish as I have so much less time to write, or, you know, sleep, or anything. I've never been so grateful for the weekend to finally arrive, especially after yesterday's 8:30 a.m.- midnight workday. I've spent today doing nothing but resting. Don spent his day off cleaning and setting up my desk in the living room, so that right now I'm actually sitting in a chair, at a desk, to use the computer. Whatever would I do without him? We are in the middle of watching each extended-version Lord of the Rings movie, which should culminate either tonight or tomorrow. Good times, good times. I'm attempting free-hand chicken enchiladas tonight, because I'm a little homesick for Tex-Mex goodness and a little spicy will do me good.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

You paid attention during 100% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
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Which is funny, because I got crap grades in high school and barely remember most of it.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Over-worked and over-stuffed

Ohhh, so much stuff going on. So little energy. Started the second job this week, the bookstore/cafe shindig. Different company, different city, but it feels exactly like Borders. Same sarcastic staff, same routines, procedures, ideas. It's scarily familiar. Apparently working an espresso machine is like driving a car... you never forget. Standing behind the machine, it was like I'd been steaming milk and making mochas every day for the last 2 years. But this place is so busy that closing means getting out at or even after midnight, which is rough so far. Tuesday I ended up working from 8:30 in the morning until midnight (16 hours. Sixteen) by stupidly overscheduling myself. Not used to juggling 2 work schedules yet, but it should get better when I get everything balanced into place and get on a regular routine. My body hurts, my back. It's not used to working so long, and standing.

Thanksgiving was fun. Don and I decided to do a sort of Thanksgiving-lite, not calorie-wise (yeah, right) but just the number of dishes and amount of work. So we did the turkey, the bread, the cranberries, the mashed potatoes, the gravy and one pie. Bought the other pie, and skipped the stuffing, the yams, the green beans... it was fun, a glorious mess in the kitchen. The turkey came out a little dry (I'm totally blaming the oven for this one) but nothing the gravy couldn't fix. The gravy... soooo gooood. And with it being just the two of us, we have enough leftovers for days. I was getting kind of homesick, with it being my favorite holiday of the whole year and all. But my parents didn't even 'do' Thanksgiving this year; they went to New Mexico to look at vacation homes in the mountains. Looks like Don and I'll have a place to vacate to pretty soon!

We bought two really nice dining chairs from World Market, the night before Thanksgiving. Pretty, see?

And so comfortable. Don was actually worried that they're too stylish for us, that they won't feel as though they belong with the rest of our stuff. But they're wonderful, and on sale, so he was swayed despite their chic-ness. I'm trying to convince him that we need to buy two more, before they are discontinued or something so that we'll have a whole set, but he's not going for it yet, something about having nowhere to put them and not wanting to buy furniture just to put it in the bedroom closet.

It's nice, now we have a kitchen big enough for a table and chairs, and we have chairs, too!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Take me home

Officially one whole month here in Virginia, and the homesickness is starting to creep in. I think it's because the first part of the move feels like a vacation or a grand adventure-- it's all about discovering a new place and having fun. In addition, being reunited with Don after such a long separation felt so good that it drove any bad feelings out for awhile; it was like a honeymoon and I really wasn't thinking about anybody but the two of us, as evidenced by the mushy posts previous.

By homesickness, I really just mean missing family and friends, because Texas itself... well, there's not so much to miss. I don't miss the weather, the pollution, the traffic, the utter blandness. Sorry Texas, but Virginia's gotcha beat physically. I'm really starting to miss my family and friends, though, back home. I'm very grateful that we're taking a family vacation next month, so I'll be seeing them soon, but I feel slightly overwhelmed at the idea of a two-person Thanksgiving. If only I had a really close friend who lived a few blocks away and loved to cook, so that we could spend two whole days baking and cooking for Thanksgiving while our husbands gradually drank all the beer! Oh wait, that was Vermont. Never mind. (Hi Becca!)

I wish Don was coming with me on the trip next month as we originally planned, but c'est la vie, I guess. It was much more important that he go home to his own parents at such a crucial time and there's only so much vacation time to go around. I'm just glad that my parents see him as such a part of the family now that he's automatically invited on all the vacations and everything, because I hope that this tradition of taking family trips together even as adults continues but I only want to go if Don can, too, not if it involves leaving him behind. And I like the fact that Don likes my family enough to be enthusiastic about the idea of travelling with them, rather than just taking vacations by ourselves. But on the bright side, we don't have to find somebody to watch Cathy and Alice, since he'll still be here for this one.

This has been such a tumultous year; so much has happened, so much has changed. I need some time to just reflect, to recharge my batteries before next year, because I feel instinctively that the coming year will be just as eventful, possibly even chaotic. From here on out I'll be working two jobs and a lot more hours, and while it will be nice to have the money in the bank and to meet more people, I'm afraid of not getting that time to just think, to sort everything out that's in my mind so that I can move on with a clear head. Sometimes I tend to block painful thoughts instead of working through them, or I don't revisit certain emotional areas and they come back unexpectedly. In a meeting at work yesterday, my boss told a story about her mother who is in her nineties, which made me spontaneously cry because I suddenly remembered my Grandma, who was 95 when she passed away last March. Even though I've grieved for her and accepted that she has gone, the sudden re-realization that I'll never see her again was overwhelming. Maybe Don's mother's cancer and his anxiety over losing his parents has brought my own fears closer to the surface? I don't know.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Random facts and questions

1. So far, who did you talk to the most today? My coworkers Kristin and Anisa.
2. What is the best name for a butler? George. All butlers should be named George.
3. What is the thing you are picked on most about? Hmm. I'm not really picked on much. My family teases me about being soft-hearted, sometimes they try to make me cry.
4. What was your last weird encounter? We get weirdos at the bank all the time, it's hard to pick one incident.
5. Do you remember the part from Bambi when Bambi learns to say bear? I can't remember. That movie sucked.
6. How many good friends do you have? One fewer than I thought, but still enough to make me happy
7. What’s the weirdest thing you have ever eaten? I'm such a picky eater, I don't eat weird stuff, really.
8. What color are your socks today? This color.

9. What is your favorite word that starts with the letter G? Gumption. Grand. Gabrielle. Garden.
10. Who do you blame for your mood today? Finishing my essay/ having an essay requisitioned for a REAL BOOK/ this beautiful weather/ the weekend's imminence/ getting hired at my new second job/ my pretty new jacket/ getting to vacation with my family next month.
12. What is something scientists need to invent? Better water-recycling systems.
13. What is the closest object to your left foot? My right, they're crossed at the ankle.
14. Who is your favorite President? John Adams

15. Do you have an inside joke that has to do with numbers? No. My jokes are all word jokes.
16. What is the longest amount of hours you have slept in a row? About 17.
17. What story do you tell most often? I re-tell ALL my stories... it's part of my charm. It'll come in handy when I'm an old lady
18. How do ugly people make you feel? Either compassionate or disgusted, depending whether they're just unfortunate-looking or like really grungy and gross. Hygiene and grooming count for a lot.
21. What are the posters on your walls? No posters yet but approximately one kajillion framed photos of family, friends, favorite places, family, vacations...
22. Say two words that rhyme: silly-billy.
23.Do you use online terms in real life? OMG! TTYL! No, not really.
25. Do you think this year will be better than the last? Absolutely. I have a feeling of impending change and wonderfulness.
26. Who is the 1st person on your incoming call list? My little sister.
27. Do you know who Salad Fingers Is? I didn't, but I just Wiki'd it. Looks very strange.
28. What is the stupidest thing you have ever done? Oh my goodness, I have to CHOOSE? How about locking my keys in my car? Getting my days mixed up and missing an exam in college? Forgetting about Daylight Savings Time and showing up an hour late for work?
29. What is your favorite commercial of the moment? I hate all commercials.
30. What are you looking forward to? My vacation in December with my family. Getting married next year. Buying a house with Don. Starting our family. Tonight and tomorrow.
33. What do you like to do when you are alone? Mainly read. I read all the time. I've been writing more. Sketch floor plans of my future houses. Daydream. Take Alice on long walks.
34. Who are your 2 favorite characters on Coupling (the British version)? Jane and Jeff.
35. What is missing from your life? Babies. Lots of cuddly babies. And real estate.
36. Would you be ashamed if you wore hippie clothes? Heck no.
37. Grab the closest book, what does the 7th sentence on the 23rd page?
38. When was the last time you slept with a stuffed animal? Maybe 3 nights ago?
39. If it was your last day on earth, what shoes would you wear? Whichever... I don't think I'd think about it.
40. Do you own a Super Nintendo? Never have.
41. What do you think of Law and Order? One of my favorite TV shows. It actually shows the difference between solving the crime and getting the criminal successfully prosecuted. The other crime shows all make it seem like once the police know who done it, the criminal will spontaneously confess and go to jail.
42. Can you name all 7 dwarfs? No.
43. Have you ever pretended to be Jewish? Why pretend when you're the real deal?
44. What was the last thing you thought you lost? My sanity.
45. What were you doing at midnight last night? Trying to sleep.
46. If you had a ball of clay what would you mold it into? A tiny dragon.
47. Do you have any famous relatives? I hope not.
48. Have you ever been cool enough to:Press all the buttons on an elevator? How is that cool?
Bake with an easy bake oven? Ditto.
Gone to school when you didn’t remember you had the day off? No.
Ever owned a Spirograph? Yeah, I love those things!
What was the last....TV show you watched? Alton Brown's Good Eats
Thing you bought? My lovely new corduroy blazer-jacket-thingie from Eddie Bauer. I wanted it in Dallas but it was too expensive. Then I came here and it was on sale!
Person that spent the night at your house? Probably my little brother, when our parents were out of town.
Song you sang out loud? ACDC's You Shook Me All Night Long. It's "our song".
Time you ate ice cream? Last night... This Be warned that the brownies, while delicious, aren't very 'magical'.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


It's funny, but sometimes when I set out to write a post it comes out completely different than what I meant to convey. Like last time... I meant to describe my weekend: Don and I wandering through the university Friday night, so that he could see where I work; driving around the countryside Saturday and discussing the possibilities of buying a house way out there in the country; of going down town later for gelatto and getting caught in the rain, huddling in a doorway with our gelatto and watching everybody in the street make a run for it; going grocery shopping on Sunday "just to get something for dinner" and walking out and hour and a half later with meals and meals and meals' worth of food, just to stock up. I meant to convey the coziness of having a rare, complete weekend together, and instead I said something like, Don and me had fun! Blar blar blar!

Ah well. He cooked a great dinner tonight, pork chops. It gave me time to work on my STUPID ESSAY which is DUE TOMORROW and is NOT GETTING FINISHED. WHY am I doing this again? Ok. Panicking over with, back to work. Soon.

I've decided that if the bookstore decides to offer me the position, I'll take it, even with the low sad pay. 25 hours at (low sad pay) is still more than nada zip, and it looks like a fun job.

I've figured out something about this town that makes it feel so different than Burlington, when on the surface they seem pretty similar... it has to do with the location of the respective universities. In Vermont, the school is right up the street from downtown, and the downtown mall/ Church Street area is a mix of the student-friendly and the upscale-touristy, especially when it comes to places to eat. The Red Onion, Halvorson's, Joe's, and Rira's sit shoulder-to-shoulder with the fancier, pricier places like NECI Commons. Here, there's just enough distance between the school and the central downtown mall that while the street looks just like Burlington, it's missing the casual, less expensive, student-y places. Those all exist on a street across the street from the school called The Corner, that's separated from downtown. It leaves Main Street feeling rather over-priced and snooty, as though it caters more to the tourists and well-to-do locals than to the university crowd; too many art galleries and financial planners, too few Irish pubs and pizza joints. Downtown Charlottesville just doesn't have the great eclectic feel that comes from mixing different walks of life together, which is why Don and I have been tending towards the Corner lately. It's still interesting and fun, though, especially if you've already eaten and just want some gelatto and window-shopping.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Hmmm. It does seem that when Don is home I have less time to post entries into my blog. Too much time taken with having fun, I guess. We had a great weekend together, exploring again and getting stuff done. We tromped through several parks with the dog, looking for possibilies for our wedding... didn't find anything there but we did find the river that borders town, a dog park, creeks, fields... We drove to the Monticello area Saturday, drove around the countryside, ate lunch at the famous Michie Tavern. Today we were just running errands, shopping, the usual Sunday stuff. This weekend just flew by. I have a job interview tomorrow at the bookstore, which I'm not sure about because the pay is so low, but we'll see. It may still be worthwhile.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Lovesick Rambling.

It's pretty obvious that I don't talk about Don much in my blog, except in passing: brief mentions of what he's making for dinner or where he's travelling on business... Don as a person, hardly at all. This is basically intentional, because he's a very private person. While I have an online journal, he would never do that, so I don't share much about him. Same thing with my parents and siblings. But at the moment, I'm itching to break my own rules. (So sweetie if you read this, I'm sorry but it had to happen.) I've been really mulling over how wonderful he is, and that what we have together is everything to me. It feels like our relationship has deepened even further in the last few months, which I didn't even realize was possible at this point. Maybe partly because making a move like this is part of a continuing commitment, and maybe because of all the weeks that we spent apart. It's not exactly true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but sometimes it leaves room for reflection, focus and reconnection.

I don't think that there's anybody in the world who could understand me as well as he does, and vice versa. 'Understand' as in he gets me, and understand and in understanding, empathy, and trust. We're so different in some ways, and yet that understanding underlies everything. I can tell him everything and don't have to censor myself, because he understands, and it works both ways.

One thing that amazes me, though, is his incredible work ethic, determination, and quiet ambition. He is extremely hard working, but it's much more than that; so many people work hard without ever really amounting to anything. Don's efficient and effective, so that his hard work makes a difference; he becomes indespensable wherever he goes. He takes every opportunity to learn, to grow on the job and become even more useful, so that moving up to the next level seems practically inevitable. When we met seven years ago, he was working as a shift engineer. When we moved to Vermont 2 years later, he became a Chief Engineer. Back in Texas: Assistant Director of Engineering. Here, Director. He has gone from being an hourly employee, (albeit a highly skilled, highly paid one), to being upper-management, using nothing but sheer hard work and intelligence. Even I hardly noticed the upward motion; it just kind of hit me the other day that he's 'up there' now: the paid relocation, the free stay in the hotel for 6 weeks while finding a house here, the monthly bonuses, the free drycleaning.

This drive impresses me more than I can say, especially because his motives are unusual, I think. He's not doing it for the money or for material possessions, or even for the respect and the job titles. Don would say that he just "gets bored" with the position that he was at. I think that it transates more that as long as he knows that he can be better, that there's a bigger challenge that he can attack, then he can't be satisfied with where he is. Once he knows his job forwards and backwards, then there's nothing left to learn, nothing left to really test him: then it's time for a bigger challenge. I'm not like that at all, so I find it fascinating.

You know that old cliche, 'still waters run deep'? It basically describes Don. He's really hard to get to know, almost impossible. He can be casually friends, laugh and joke and have a beer, but very few people have ever gotten to know him on a deeper level. Sometimes I try to re-trace the beginnings of our friendship, to figure out when that changed with me, when he decided to let me in. I still don't know, and our entire relationship seems so serendipitous sometimes: right place, right time, for two strangers with seemingly nothing in common. I was nineteen, a college student living on campus, totally new to this whole 'adult' thing; he was 35, divorced, a former military man. How we ended up playing Monopoly and talking until sunrise, playing pool in places that didn't card at the door, listening to all of his old CD's, going bowling, I don't know.

I think that in a funny way, our age difference ended up bringing us together because it kept us apart for long enough, first. Because we didn't see each other as having "relationship" potential, our friendship was much more open and honest than it would have been otherwise; we talked about things that I would never have shared had he been some 19-year-old guy that I was interested in, and that he would never have talked about with someone less "safe". We did things that would have been weird if there hadn't been that unspoken, platonic age-barrier, like spending the night at each others' apartments, going camping together, and discussing our sexual and dating histories and currest love-interests. For maybe 6 or 8 months we were practically inseparable, until, age difference be damned, the fact thatwe were attracted to each other got in the way with a tickling-match-turned-very-suddenly-into-kissing-match. And I resisted. Not because he was older, but because I knew, from the very beginning, that it would be serious. I knew that Don had let me into a part of him that was locked to everyone else, and that if we moved from friends to boy-friend-girl-friend, that ever ending it would be devastating. I wasn't sure that I was ready to get into what would be such a serious relationship; it's not like you can go from being super-close, share-everything friends to 'casually dating'. In the end I succumed, mainly because he was so cute and the sexual tension was unbearable... it worked out pretty well.

Some politics with your bagel?

It's not exactly Frodo destroying the One Ring, but yay! Democrats back on top. Even if they don't fully get the Senate, there will at least be a balance now. Actually, I kind of feel bad for some of the Republicans because they're all being tarred with the Bush brush, whether they deserve it or not-- so many voters seem to be saying, "You're a Republican just like Bush! This is ALL YOUR FAULT!" even to some of the Reps that don't follow the president's lead much at all. He seems to have messed things up for a lot of the more moderate elephants, and some of them do seem quite reasonable. And some of the new Democrats seem... un-Democratic. Like that new Pensylvania guy, and even Webb here in Virginia-- they both seem so conservative that they may as well be Repulicans after all. But, maybe it'll be these party-benders that meet in the middle and start to un-polarize the whole place? Who knows. What I can't wait for are the 2008 elections! Bring them on!

There is an establishment here in C-ville called Bodo's Bagels. I don't know what the 'Bodo' is-- somebody's name, a nickname, an abbreviation? All I can think of is, Frodo's Bagels! Bagels for the Shirefolk! Right next door to the Green Dragon! It just sounds very middle-earthy. You with me on this one, Ben? The first time Don and I saw it, we sort of exchanged glances like, "Are you thinking something dorky and LOTR-based, too?" Silly minds think alike. They have great bagels though, and cheap too, since it's a student establishment.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

New Habits

Don's mother came through the operation wonderfully, she's already back at home. So far it looks as though everything went smoothly, thank God. Don claims that she loved the cookies, but I'd be surprised if that were true, I didn't think that much of them. They weren't bad, just not great either. He sounds like he's having a good time being back in his hometown and with them... I really wish I could have gone with him. Stupid job!

I shouldn't say that because actually, the job is going great. Doing the same thing I was in Texas but for a higher pay, which is nice, and with nicer customers. I don't know exactly why, but the customers here are just much more easy-going than what we got back home. It might be because they're better-off and so they don't have as many issues with the bank, just drop off the checks from Mom & Dad. Or maybe they've just come to expect things like holds on their checks or whatever. Either way, they're very understanding and polite. Well-mannered. I'm even getting used to working either 4- or 6-hour shifts instead of the old 8 or 9; I can wear heels to work since I'm not on them as long. All in all, it ain't bad!

I walk with Alice almost every morning to this wonderful little coffee shop that's just over half a mile away. Their mochas = so yummy. They allow dogs inside, so I don't have to tie Alice up outside, and they have a resident cat hanging about. I love Starbucks as much as the next person (ok, probably more), but it's a nice change of pace to go to this independent, funky, neighborhood place instead. The walk itself is great, too; I'm getting to know my neighborhood and there's so much to see--- interesting older houses, the foliage, mountains in the background. While it's not exactly a 'workout', walking a mile and coming back with the drink is a nice way to wake up, clear my head and be ready for work. Alice, of course, loves it too.

I know it's too soon to judge, but I have a great feeling about this place. I think that Don and I have done something good for ourselves by coming out here; that wonderful things are happening. This city is promising.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Unique by name

In a country of approximately 300,000,000, this makes me very happy.
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sunday night update

Don's gone for the week, staying with his parents for his mom's operation and etc. So for the week, I'm utterly on my own, in a town where I know nobody and am only working 25 hours! What fun. Actually I don't think it will be too bad, because I've got a ton of stuff to do. There are still parts of the house (ok, most of the house) that need unpacking and organizing attention, including MY room-- the study/office/guestroom/second bedroom/whatever. I've got some vague plans for a sewing table in there, something really simple. And I've got an idea to brighten up the kitchen, which is entirely stark white. And I'm writing another essay, by request this time. So between that and the lovely Internet surfing, the week will go fast.

I've been reading other peoples' blogs lately: I'm just discovering this enormous blog-world out there, not blogs like this one that are written sort of privately, but those that are really written for public viewing, with tons of hits and comments and ads. Some are really good; 'real' writers you might say, funny, deep, touching. Some aren't. I know that a lot of people don't want to share the real names of their kids, spouses, etc but some of the 'code names' get really annoying and hard to follow: initials, random words, Busy Baby, Thing 1, The Man, etc. It makes it kind of hard to get interested. It's so much better if they can use a name (not necessarily the right name), or nick-name that makes sense.

I've been trying to step back from the whole 'former best friend' situation and get some perspective, but it's hard. Mainly because when I really care about someone, there's this warm fuzzy feeling when I think of them, whether it's my mom, a friend, Don. Just a random, flitting thought, accompanied by a warm feeling. It's like an instinctive, physical reaction rather than a rational thought. I keep getting this dull ache and I forget why, and then I remember, but there's this disconnect: it's like I'm thinking... "why do I feel so bad, oh yeah because of [her] but ... She's the warm-and-fuzzy-,-best-friend-feeling not nasty-bitter-feeling-in-pit-of-stomach" ... I can't reconcile it emotionally, the switch from 12 years of thinking of someone as a close, trusted friend to thinking of her as the bitter and hostile woman who wrote the email. I know it takes more than a week to get over a relationship that lasted over a decade, but I'm not used to mulling over something so much.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

More Important Things

I guess the universe has its ways of letting you know what's important and what's not. On Halloween, while I was still mentally rehashing and re-analyzing the previous topic, Don found out that his mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. He's driving back home on Friday and is going to spend the week there, to be there when she undergoes the operation on Sunday.

As far as things go, it doesn't look bad... she's healthy and takes good care of herself, early stages, blah blah blah. It doesn't change the fact that it's cancer, though, and Don's understandably really upset. He's such a stoic, reserved kind of guy, so when the floodgates of emotion open up... watch out! We dealt with the news as any normal red-blooded couple would by going out drinking. Rather, he drank and I watched because I forgot my ID. You'd think at 25 I could get an alcoholic beverage without a driver's license. Don's so worried about his parents, and I'm worried about him. I wish I could go with him and be there, too. I talked to his mom on the phone last night and she told me not to worry because it's "not life threatening". Right... that non-deadly kind of cancer. Nice of her, though. I told Don all the usual things, don't worry, she's going to be fine, etc etc etc. With his usual brilliant cut-through-the-bullshit, I've-been-taking-Yager-shots he said, "I know she'll be fine now. But someday it won't be, and what'll I do then?" I don't have an answer for that, sweetie. It's what we all face, consciously or not.

It turns out that his biggest fear now is me dying. I never knew that before.

As an aside, thanks to everyone and anyone who went out of their way to make me feel better after my last post, and who reminded me who my real friends are. Anyways. Off to make get-well-soon-with-pecan-cookies for Don to take back home with him.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Well, my 'best friend' broke up with me this weekend. Maybe that's too dramatic. I mean, we've barely communicated in the last year or so, but... she's someone I considered as my best friend since seventh grade-- that's what, 12 years? It was harder and harder to get in touch with her, but I didn't really see it as 'over'; I mean, 12 years, it would take more than a little coolness on her side for me to think that we weren't friends anymore. But I never saw her during the whole month and half that Don was gone, when I'd be moving shortly as well. I kept thinking that she'd call at the last minute and we'd go out to dinner and everything would be as always. But that didn't happen. I woke up on a grey, rainy morning, my first Monday here in Virginia, terribly depressed because it hit me all at once: that for her not to contact me at all, meant that either something was very wrong or else our long friendship was over and she just wasn't interested in seeing me before I left. So I sent her a long, probably incoherent email asking about it.

To be honest, at first I expected a quick denial in return-- no no, everything's fine, of course I'm not mad at you, smiley faces. Then after some time passed, I didn't expect any response at all. But this weekend she finally wrote back to say that yes, she hasn't considered me her friend in some time. Truthfully... that letter was one of the most hurtful, painful things that's ever happened to me. I won't go into it, but . . . wow. Basically she's done with me, I guess. I've been clueless and blind about the direction our friendship has taken. I feel lost, confused, rejected... I spent most of yesterday crying.

This would probably be a great time to go on a rant about her, while I feel so raw and defensive. But I can't do that. She's a good person and regardless of how she feels now we have a long history of support and understanding. Last night when I was trying to fall asleep, random moments kept crossing my mind, just like a mediocre movie.

>When we were sixteen, we got our first 'real jobs' together. We had so much fun working together... we used to make our boss laugh by either finishing each other's sentences or else saying exactly the same thing at the same time.

> When we graduated from high school, she and I took a road trip to San Antonio, just the two of us. It was so much fun; we went to Sea World, the Riverwalk, the zoo. I still have this kitchy purple keychain from Sea World that features a photo of us-- my favorite fridge adornment.

>After my parents' house burned down in 2001, she was the first person I called after Don. Her empathy was so strong that she burst into tears on the phone, and later she and her mom took care of all the houseplants and some other stuff while my parents relocated.

> 3 months later, she called me on September 11, to make sure that I was ok. Even though I was nowhere near New York or anything. Hearing from her helped stabilize me at a time when it seemed that the whole world had gone crazy.

> She worked at a card store during all the time that I was in Vermont, and she sent me cards in the mail all the time. Getting those cards meant so much to me, especially during that first six months with the bad depression. I kept those cards... I found the box of them when I was getting ready to move and spent some time just reading through them.

> She made me the maid of honor in her wedding. I had fun going wedding-dress shopping, watching her try on dresses until she found the perfect one, and it really was perfect. We had a great bridal shower, too. She had her husband have been together since high school, and I was so moved by their exchange of vows that I started crying during the ceremony.

I guess that that part of my life is over now, perhaps its for the best. I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking not just about her, but about my other friends. For those that read this blog-- Ben, Becca-- do you know how much I appreciate your presence in my life? I hope so. Don spent a lot of time last night letting me know that he and I are truly best friends, as well as partners, but it still stings.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Back to school

Why is it so incredibly difficult sometimes to get Blogger to do what I want? I've spent the last hour and a half trying to create a post with a lot of pictures and its given me nothing but trouble. Blargh.

I spent this week trying to get used to the new job. 'My' branch is actually within the university, in a basement with a bunch of other student stuff-- cafeteria, convenience store, student services etc.-- and there are only three of us that work there. It's actually a satellite off of a bigger branch, so my days go like this: drive to bigger branch (across the street from the university), park, and check in with management there. Walk the 5-10 minute walk to get to this little tiny branch; work 4 hours; walk back to larger branch; and either work 3 hours or go home. A little weird, but it's working ok. There's so much that's different from Texas that just working takes a lot of concentration, something I'm not used to. Different procedures, different systems, different customers. That's the part that really amuses me here: the customer base is ALL STUDENTS.

Student banking is all about small amounts of money. Checks for 20 dollars, withdrawals for 10. Rolls of quarters for laundry, emergency checks from mom and dad. I've had numerous customers deposit handfuls of spare change. Many have come in with 3 or 4 checks for exactly the same amount, the result of splitting a utility bill or rent 4 ways in a student apartment; two kids came in with an honest-to-god PIGGY BANK and handed it to a teller, expecting her to exchange it for 'real money'. She gave them coin rollers instead, and they proceeded to a corner of the lobby where they sat down, dumped the pig, and spent 45 minutes there on the floor, rolling the coin. I'm used to a branch where we did lots of commercial business; transactions for tens of thousands of dollars didn't faze us at all. This micro-banking is new to me!

Another thing about the students is that they're so darn jovial. Picture this scene: dude 1 enters the bank lobby and starts filling out a deposit slip or whatever. Dude 2 enters.

Dude 2: "Dude! I haven't seen you in like 2 days! Where've you been, man?"
Dude 1: "I know, dude! Blah blah blah!"

They proceed to discuss last weekend, the coming weekend, their classes, and all their mutual acquaintences... loudly. Imagine hearing this discussion maybe 3 times every hour between various customers-- they ALL seem to know one another. They enter the bank in little groups even though only one of them has business to take care of, making me constantly think that there are people needing to be helped but no, they're all with that other guy. And I'd forgotten that in this curious sub-culture it's considered perfectly acceptable to wear pajama bottoms out in public. I'm trying to remember if I ever did that. I hope not.

Dogs in Creek

A few days before the move, my sister and I took our dogs to this field and creek behind her apartment complex. The light was bad, but who can resist doggy action shots? There was an epic battle over the red ball, which Alice finally won by biting through and thereby sinking it. The following should be equivilent to about 9,000 words about that afternoon.

In the editing screen these pictures form a neat 3x3 composition block. In the post they look as though a spastic three-year-old threw them at the screen. Go figure, right?


Ok so all I had to do was change some html coding in the template so that now the body of text is bizarrely wide. But the photos fit. Please help.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Announcing my new cousin!

Born 10-18-2006 to my cousin Robin. I'm not putting in any other details as I don't know what her parents would want to be online, but isn't she adorable?!

Scary Stove Conquered

So far I have made on the scary stove/ oven:

Garlic bread
Roast chicken
Mashed potatoes
Chocolate chip cookies.

I think I have the scary-stove thing down, for now. Until the pilot light goes out or something. I'm starting to find my way around town a little better: I have all these landmarks in my head now, like the Bridge Lined with Lightposts, the Friendly Cemetery, the Freaky Five-way Intersection, etc. It helps. I don't remember getting lost at all yesterday. I turned in an application with the big bookstore here, hoping to get started with the second job ASAP.

I had the weirdest dreams this morning, that included (I swear!) all of the following: moving trucks, Bon Jovi, Woody Allen, and the giant chess set from the first Harry Potter book/movie. That will lend a strange flavor to your day. My goal today is to find a laundromat and do laundry, preferably in less than 4 hours total-- driving, getting lost, finding laundromat, doing laundry, getting lost, coming home. I achieved yesterday's goals (drop off app/cover letter w/ bookstore, cook chicken before it turns bad) and Don had the cheek to suggest that I set harder goals. Really, let's see what he gets done his first day off.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Adventures continued: the fun never stops!

First. After posting yesterday I ventured out of the house again, because I needed a new outfit for my job interview. Because I own one black jacket that desperately needs drycleaning and doesn't *quite* match either my black pants or my black skirt. I needed one whole suit-type thing. Well there doesn't seem to be a 'mall' in these here parts (something that makes my suburban-Dallas-bred heart just weep) so I ended up at this "shopping complex" that had Old Navy, Ann Taylor, and ... Banana Republic. Speaking of which Banana Republic is the stupidest name for a clothing store ever. Just saying. It's where I ended up buying my Grown Up Interview Suit for an amount that makes me feel guilty, shamed, and slightly panicky every time I think about it. The thing cost so much that I did that thing you're never supposed to do: I applied for the store's credit card to save 15%. Everyone knows that you should never open store credit cards! I am officially bad with finance. I have spent a week's salary on a suit and put it on a brand-new credit card to a store that I never shop in.

But, today I got the job, so at least I don't have the "unemployed-and-still-shopping" guilt to stack onto it. I start Monday morning 9:00. It's only part-time but they're increasing my hourly rate a bit. Enough to cover Virginia's frickin' state income tax (!) and have extra. I still need to find a second job but that'll come later.

I'm wondering: at what point in life will I stop feeling as though I'm playing dress-up when wearing "grown-up clothes"? Today I felt like photographing myself in said suit (and heels!) and sending it to my mom: Happy Halloween, I'm going as an adult this year! Oh, and the heels? They killed me. I thought: interview, sitting down. No big deal, right? No. The branch that I interviewed at, and the one at which I'll be working, are a "short walk" apart. It's not that short when you're in slingbacks which keep getting caught in the University's picturesque brick walkways. My feet were dying by the time we walked over there and back.

What was really neat though, at least to an un-jaded Texan, is this fierce wind that is blowing all the leaves *off* of the trees, so that the air is filled with leaves; leaves swirling everywhere. Like some kind of giant, bright-gold precipitation, getting stuck in everyone's hair and backpacks and things.

Last night I made our first in-home dinner. Have I mentioned that we have a gas stove here? And that I've never cooked on a gas stove at home before? This is not one of the new, electric-start stoves either. It's an ancient stove with pilot lights, and a broiler that is *underneath* the oven, right off the floor. To broil the garlic bread I had to get down on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor. The stove scares me to death, but the spaghetti sauce made the place smell like home, a little.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Daily Adventures

So yesterday I was looking for the Petsmart, because I needed a new litter-box. Actually Cathy needed a new box, but, you know. The Google directions showed the Petsmart as being "1 mile, approx 2:00 minutes" away from my new home, but they were VERY WRONG. According to Mapquest that intersection is actually 1o miles from here--I found that out later. So I drove in little concentric circles all over my new neighborhood looking for this street/intersection/big store for about an hour. I was trying to make the best of it, telling myself things like, "Don't see it as being lost or looking for something. You're just enjoying a drive around your new habitat, getting to know the area. If we happen to discover a Petsmart, why, that would be lovely and perhaps we'll stop there" (The cat was in the car with me. I don't refer to myself as "we" usually.) But after an hour I couldn't fake it anymore and I had to pee. So I found the grocery store instead, where they do stock litter-boxes, thankfully. BUT. I discovered a really cute little coffee-place that's a pretty short walk from the house. I never would have found it otherwise. So Alice and I walked down there this morning. I wanted to take pictures of all the pretty things here but I couldn't find the camera, so imagine that there are nice pictures here of amazing views, colorful trees, the coffeeshop, etc. Perhaps after tomorrow I'll have them-- the camera was under the driver's seat in the car. (Don.) The only bad bit was that we ran across a *really* aggressive, very big dog, tied up in front of a convenience store. Usually I love dogs, but this was scary. If the owner hadn't come out of the store just in time and literally pressed the dog to the fence with his own body, I don't know what we would have done, other than *run* and hope that his chain held. This was a BAD DOG. Alice was totally freaked, and we walked home on the far side of the street just in case.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I'm Back!

Well. We're here in Charlottesville, finally. So much has happened in the last, what, week and a half? that I don't know where to begin or what to tell. Especially because most of it is really mundane stuff but still. So, Random Bullet Point Time!

Before the Move

> The moving company. Damn, everyone needs one of these. I'm never moving without the help of professionals ever again. They show up at the apartment at 9:00 sharp, they pack EVERYTHING WE OWN, they carry it out to the truck. In four hours FLAT. By 1:10 in the afternoon I'm alone, with nothing in the apartment but a roll of papertowel, a roll of t.p., and random aerosol cans. Because they don't pack aerosol stuff. I'm a little in love with them, really.

> The apartment was trashed. It's partly because Don and I are messy people. It's just the way we are. It's partly because we really like to make a place out own: hang things on the wall, paint stuff, make a garden on the patio, whatever. We can't just leave a place alone. Mostly, though it was because of my sister's puppy who spent part of every day with us for her first year. Dog stains EVERYWHERE. It took 22 hours of cleaning to get the place looking like "reasonable wear and tear." Three days: 10 hours, 10 hours, 2 hours. Unbelievable.

> I rented one of those rug-doctor things from the grocery store. They actually work pretty well. Kills the lower back though.

> My sister came over and helped clean, for hours and hours. I never even asked her... she just called; "What are you up to?" "Cleaning." "Want some help?" In return for nothing but a grilled cheese, she helped shampoo the carpets all day. Turns out the carpet cleaner works really well if you FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS which apparently she can do but I can't.

> Cathy stayed at my parents' house with me during that last week. My mom and dad are both "cat people" but they haven't owned a cat in over 20 years due to his asthma and allergies, so they aren't *used* to cats. Every time she did anything, it was like this: "Look! The cat just walked into the room!" "She's eating her kibble!" "She's grooming herself!" They were so charmed with everything that she did, because they had forgotten all the the things that make cats unique. It was fun.

The Drive

> Both Cathy and Alice travel well. Amazingly well really. We didn't have to do anything special to accomodate them on the drive. Cathy just curled up on top of my dad's duffel bag and slept the whole time. Alice slept a lot, and spent the rest of the time with her front paws perched on the center console as though it were the prow of a ship, looking out over the road. The only drawback was that after sleeping all day the cat went nuts in the motel room and wouldn't stop playing with her litter box.

> I love some things about roadtrips. Seeing the terrain change. Watching the mile-markers on the interstate drop back to "1" after crossing the state line, and seeing them climb for hundreds of miles... until you reach the next state line. Seeing my little car go 434 miles on only 12 gallons of gas. Passing the signs for towns with funny names. The funniest-named town between Dallas and Charlottesville is Bucksnort, Tennessee. How does a town come to be named Bucksnort?

Here at Last

> I can't put into words how good it is to be reunited with Don, so I won't even try. For our whole little 'family' to be back together...

> Virginia is beautiful. It's so pretty, with mountains, huge trees, winding roads. The city is nice, too. It's not Burlington, but it ain't bad either. Unfortunately, I get lost EVERY SINGLE TIME that I venture out in the car. I've been here for 4 days. Every day I get lost. This is one of those towns laid out in a manner that only the locals understand, I think.

> This whole town is a shrine to Thomas Jefferson. Charlottesville is sandwiched between Monticello and the University of Virginia, which he founded. Every visible quote, whether etched in the stone over a doorway or graffiti'd on a bridge, seems to originate from Jefferson. Of the four statues I've found so far, three were of Jefferson: the fourth was Lee. I feel like having a bumper sticker made that says, "John Adams is my favorite president" just to be different, although around here that might get my tires slashed or something.

> I have a job interview for Friday morning, so I shouldn't be out of work for too long here, even if it is just for a part-time job.

There's so much more going on, but I can't organize my thoughts any better, and Don and I are going out to dinner now, because the kitchen is a sea of boxes and tissue paper and it's a beautiful evening.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Last day of work.

So I basically have the nicest co-workers anywhere. They have overwhelmed me on my last day of work with donuts, cake, cards, roses, and gift cards to Starbucks (!) and Barnes & Noble (!!)-- none of which I was expecting as we already *had* a party a little while ago. Did I cry? I'd rather not say.

I ate rather too much of the donuts and cake, and spent the day buzzing around the bank on a caffeine-and-sugar high that must have been supremely annoying to everyone else but was great fun for me.

It felt bizzare to leave-- every time I dealt with a familiar customer (which is all of them) I'd think "for the last time..." Turning in my keys at the end of the day was especially weird. I'm a forgetful, absentminded person usually and keeping track of the bank keys has always been an issue. It's been a matter of great pride to me that in two years I've never lost them-- something that would involve the bank's having to re-key all the locks. But the only way I managed to not lose them was by CONSTANT VIGILANCE! Always knowing where they were. So after turning them in, I kept going like this: "Ack! where are my keys? Oh yeah. They're not mine anymore." Rinse and repeat. And repeat. We took lots of pictures today.

All the nice things they wrote inside the card.

Gift cards!

I actually got two cards because Diana T and Diana G both bought cards. The funny thing is that, working independently, they managed to boy almost the same card. Both cards came in bright yellow envelopes and featured brightly colored animals. Both had the same joke. But they weren't exactly the same. I sense a copywright infringement. But it's interesting that I inspired the exact same choice-of-card in two different people. I guess I'm a funny-animals type of woman!

There were donuts, too. They love me.

Me with Katherine, Ana, Jennifer, and Diana T.

The cake! It was Snickers flavored.

Red roses. They smell pretty, too.

The short girls get their own picture. Angie and Evelyn.

We all vibrate on the same frequency! It's amazing!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sometimes it's nice to be alone.... there's nobody to laugh at me.

The best thing is getting to laugh at someone else being stupid. Isn't that true? It's why those stupid "Funniest Videos" shows on TV and books like the Darwin Awards exist. Therefore I will put into print something I did last night that I'd be more than justified in keeping to myself FOREVER.

I'm sitting at my desk, which is surrounded by random surfaces covered in paper, the ironing board w/ piles of folded laundry, etc. The usual mess. My cell phone starts ringing, and I reach for it, but I can't seem to find it. I get up from my chair-- is it on the ironing board? the kitchen counter?-- and start looking for it, but no matter what direction I turn, the sound of its ring seems to be coming from *behind* me, so I'm turning back and forth, shuffling through stuff, darting around trying to locate the phone before it goes to voicemail-- I hate that. I end up spinning helplessly in a circle a couple of times just like the dog does when I finally realize-- duh!-- the cell was in my back pocket the whole time. I get to it just in time to miss the call.

It's things like that that make me wish I had a security camera in my apartment the way we do at work, so that I could see that whole scene from above-- look! I'm spinning!-- and also glad that I had no witnesses. Which I effectively just undid by fessing up, anyways. It's like at work, when I lose my bank keys and then find them dangling from my wrist, conveniently hidden by a sheaf of papers or something in my arm.

I'm blogging because I'm avoiding work. My closet? Still a mess. The bathroom? Ditto. The movers are coming on MONDAY to pack-n-move everything I own. All I have to do is... clean up everything and get it ready, get rid of everything that's not making the move, organize the stuff a bit. It's really nothing considering that I don't have to, say, PACK, or haul everything I own onto the back of a pickup truck... you know, the usual. I'm totally digging this corporate-style move thing. Yay Don, for making corporate! Way to bring home the bacon. Or, the professional movers, whatever.

P.S. After much soul-searching I've come to the conclusion that I can really only take 1 or 2 of our houseplants with us, if even that much. The moving company won't handle anything "living" (although that word hardly describes most of our plants.) My car is already going to be carrying

1. Me, my dad, Alice, and Cathy
2. My Big Suitcase. My little suitcase (which for some reason I've always thought of as the "travel-size" suitcase, which makes no sense-- what would the other one be for if not for travel?). My dad's travel bag. The carrying-case for the cat.
3. The little cooler, for the drinks and grapes and things-- it's an 18-hour drive. You can't drive 18 hours without a cooler.
4. At least 2 days' worth of disposable litter pans. For the cat.
5. Cat and dog food.

My car is small and just doesn't have the room for all of our plants... so if you're in the market for a new houseplant, let me know. Sad plants free to good homes.

Playing with the camera

I think I look a bit crazed in this one.

Bored person with digital camera equals BAD.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

New things

One of the best things about being friends with variety of people is the exposure to random stuff that you wouldn't ordinarily try, like war documentaries or Japanese food. It's so much better than constantly eating the same food, listening to the same music, watching the same genres, thinking the same thoughts... I feel sorry for domineering people that insist on having their own way, whether in choosing the restaurant or picking the radio station; they'll never get to break out of their own routine, and what other way is there to grow but to try new things?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Customer Service: the good, the bad, the ugly

I closed my bank accounts today, accounts I've had open for 7 and 9 years, respectively. The guy at the bank was like a robot: no small talk, no how are you, nothing. He did not ask *why* I wanted to close my accounts after 9 years of being with this bank-- something I would want to know if I were him! The reason being, of course, that there are no branches outside of Texas, and because I get lots of free accounts at the bank I work at. It was like being in the land of the personality-free.

But then I went to Sears, to get my oil changed, tires rotated and etc for the trip. I mean, for my car. And the guys there were so nice. They fixed the trunk of my car-- which has been broken for minths-- for free. It took all 3 of them maybe half an hour, and they didn't charge me a dime. I just had to drive down to the dealership to buy the part. I think they were bored because they didn't have a lot of other cars to work on at the time.

I told Don about it and he says that from now on, any time he needs work done on the truck he's going to send me, instead.


Don and I officially have a place to live in Charlottesville, so we can cross that one off the list. The movers are coming on October 9th to pick up all the stuff. Dad and I leave on the 13th. And that's that for Texas.