Monday, February 27, 2006

Too much month...

at the end of the money! It may be a country song, but once every millennia even country can hit its mark. Slowly but surely, I'm getting my (our) finances under control, making good decisions, figuring things out. If there's one thing I've determined for sure, it's that I don't want to pay any credit-card interest ever again. I figure that for every dime you spend you should get something back, whether it's a roof over your head, health insurance, a latte. Even taxes buy you necessities like roads, schools, those sexy firefighters that come to your house when it's burning down. What the hell does credit-card interest buy you? A little time between when you get something and when you have to pay. Mortgage interest I would pay, because for me to have a house before I could pay for it outright would be worthwhile. But most of the things charged to credit cards are little extravagances--clothes, meals out. That time bought is not worth 20% more money to me; I'll just wait until I can pay cash, thanks. I mean, if I can't afford something in February, what makes me think I'd be able to afford it later and with the interest added? By the time the bill comes, does anyone really remember what they bought? So screw all that, I'm going cold-turkey for 2006! So far, so good. Yesterday I renegotiated my interest-rate with Discover and they lowered it by about 4% just because I asked. Sweet. Not that I plan to incur interest, but just in case of emergencies. My other plan-- to build up my savings so that I could use that in an emergency instead of credit, is going ok. It would go better if I could earn a little more money, but there you have it. Looking at my budget, I realize that each month so far I've spent about 100 extra on big things I didn't anticipate-- car inspection/oil, renter's insurance. Should I assume that every month there's going to be something like that, or are these months anomalies? I guess it will take a few more months of tracking to know.

I haven't heard anything different about my Grandma. She is in my mind all the time right now, I wish I could communicate with her somehow. Let her know that I'm with her in spirit. I'm going to mail the card even though she can't read it right now, just in case she can later.

Friday, February 24, 2006


Well, the cookies went over well. In retrospect it was too much work though, I always overestimate how much I can do in one evening and start projects at seven. Ah well.

I had only a half-day of work today and am already back home, filled with ambitions towards cleaning the apartment, et cetera. It's nice in here, quiet with just rain and Bach. I found out last night that Grandma is back in the hospital, now with pneumonia. At 95, something like that can really be deadly, especially in combination with her fall and everything. Her mental clarity is pretty bad too, apparently; she's not very responsive. It looks more to me like the fall was the result of another stroke or mini-stroke (whatever the hell that is.) I don't know how to describe what I'm feeling for her and for all of us. I'm so worried and then I feel stupid for worrying, because what I'm really afraid of is that she's going to die. And she is, of course. Maybe not in this round, but someday. It's something I've never seriously considered before--like I said, stupid, I know. I came home last night very upset and D was doing all of the typical male things-- find problem, find solution, fix problem-- and upset me more.

Men do this a lot I've noticed. It's not their fault and it's only because they don't like to see the people they care for upset by something. (Me man, me fix problem at hand. Crying girlfriend= leaky faucet. Where wrench?) It takes some learning to realize that what's required is a shoulder to cry on, not a new gameplan, ideas or airplane tickets. We used to go through this a lot when I was stressed out about school; he'd try to take over and ask all these stupid questions when all I wanted was a hug and maybe some sympathy and/or dinner. It would just make me feel defensive and inadequate, as though I were doing something wrong. As though if I'd done something differently (as suggested) then I wouldn't be stressed or upset, when some things, like trying to graduate, are simply stressful.

This is pretty much the first time that I've had to face the possibility of losing someone I love, and there's not a damn thing that D can do to fix it. He can't make Grandma any younger, fitter, or healthier or stop her from dying; all he can do is be there. I think that's hard for him. I'm being selfish, though, in a sense. My gut reaction is of course that she can't die! That's it's not fair! But I would not have her live to be 100 if it would be 5 years of pain and suffering, of mental confusion and with no independence, to be confined to a nursing home, an IV. Of course not. It's just that she's just such a tough bird, and this all came on so suddenly. Six months ago, she was still driving. Still in her own apartment. Still had the memory and mental accuity of someone half her age. (I mean that she hadn't gotten foggy or forgetful, not that oldsters aren't accute. Still knew the birthdays, addresses, phone numbers of all her grandkids.) To have all of this just vanish is unexpected because I've been in the habit of thinking that she was invincible. But no matter what, she is an incredible woman, an inspiration.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cookie Monster tired. I keep staying up late for stupid reasons, and I have to open at the bank all weeek. Seven o'clock in the morning is not a civilized time to start work, honestly. Tonight we have a meeting that is also a belated Valentine's Day party and we're supposed to bring valentines for our co-workers. I got the brilliant idea to make lots of cookies and give each coworker a cute bag full of homemade cookies as the valentine.

Right. I was making cookies from 6 until midnight last night. Snickerdoodles, chocolate-chip-walnut cookies, sugar cookiesf cut into hearts and colored with red sugar. I made more than ten dozen cookies. I was in a cookie making haze. Cookie-delirium. I was practically crying by the time I got to the wrapping-and-packaging stage. Why? Why do I do this to myself? I realized last night that it's pure vanity, that's all. I like hearing that they're the best cookies ever etc. I like bringing the good stuff.

I had a three-day weekend (Yay, president's day!) but it didn't feel like it at all for some reason. For a little while it looked as though D and I might be moving to Connecticut but now it doesn't. He might go there on task force, though, and leave me here to fend for myself. Blech. Usually I love this kind of weather but today it's getting me down. Maybe because I'm at work, or maybe I just need a little more sleep. And another cookie.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Eine Klein Nachtmusik

Went to my folks' house for dinner last night and it was so nice. Fire in the fireplace, music, a friendly chess game with little brother, lasagna, cake...yummy. KK was there too, so the only missing peice was D, who as usual had to go in to work. Afterwards my dad and I went to a Mozart concert at UTD. To be honest I didn't really want to go, just because it was so cold outside and everything was so nice and cozy at the house, but that goes to show how wrong I can be. The concert was great. I haven't been to a classical concert in ages and ages, but dad used to take me all the time when I was young, so just going brought back tons of memories. (Ok, some memories were of trying not to fall asleep, but still.) I love that moment before each piece when the lead violinist tunes up to one note and the rest of the musicians come into tune with her, it's spinetingling. It was a chamber music selection with about 20 musicians, and the room-place (auditorium? conference hall? I forget) at the university is pretty small and it was full, so the overall effect was intimate; it was easy to see expressions on the players' faces, their hands working, and all. They played three Mozart peices, including the ever-popular Eine Klein and Symphony 29, and another that I didn't know as well. Sinfonia Concertina something. I got the impression that going counted as class credit for some students because there was a lot of note-taking happening, not to mention a surprising number of young students there considering it was a Saturday night. The only bad bit was that my dad was under the impression that the dress was casual so we were in cordouroys and jeans while most of the adult attendants were dressed up. But who cares? Afterwards little bro beat me in our chess game (as expected) and I went home. The end.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Hmm. So, I was a little down on Tuesday with the usual blues. Went to the bookstore, saw Ben (hi, Ben!) and went to the store to buy among other things a chicken. But holy smokes, chickens are on major sale! About $2.50 per chicken! I buy three entire chickens ("fryers", but you can still roast them) and it's been chicken ever since! Decided to roast two ahead of time for the meat and to use the carcasses in a stock. ChickenStock...heheh. Chickenpalooza! Herbed Chicken, yes! Now I have:

Chicken salad: lots. Enough for several lunches.
Chicken stock: one huge pot
Roast chicken for dinner: last night and tonight
Cubed chicken in the freezer: one casserole's worth

It's the first time on record that chicken helped me out of my funk. Chocolate, yes; an intensive baking session, yes; chicken, not so much. When D ate his chicken last night (with scratch mashed potatoes and scratch chicken gravy) it induced a spontaneous "Oh, my god! I love you so much!" Love-inducing chicken. The way to a man's heart, yes.

D and I don't celebrate Valentine's Day much because it's a meaningless, commercial, Hallmark-driven holiday that attempts to make couples spend more than they should on each other and make single people buy themselves "Ha! I'll be my own damn Valentine!" stuff. The way I see it, if you're a young, single couple (Shut up out there. We are too young!) with no kids, then every weekend is Valentine's Day. We don't need a special day to celebrate each other and our relationship--it's called "after work". But. D decided to take me out to dinner at this old dive in Deep Ellum that we used to frequent in the early days of our relationship. They served good greasy burgers and club sandwiches, and it's where he gave me my first nickname. Very romantic in a D-and-Mara kind of way; nobody in their right mind would have gone here for Valentines day. Unfortunately, it closed years ago and he forgot, so we ended up driving around for hours, from downtown Dallas to the heart of Garland, ending up at Cafe Brazil around 9:45. Where we eat all the time. It was great.

After re-reading this entry I realized that "intensive baking session" sounded like I was getting high, when I really meant making biscotti or cream puffs or an apple cobbler or something. Sugar is my drug of choice, no?

Monday, February 13, 2006


For some reason I've been having blog-publishing problems lately, and the entry I wrote last night I couldn't publish. It just kept telling me, "Republish blog in 10 minutes", and 10 minutes later it would still say the same thing. Very strange and annoying. So, I'm putting up last night's and tonight's at the same time. Oh well.

D and I have been watching the Olympics since they began (this year, not B.C. Greece, obviously) and we're both entranced by the women's snowboarding event. It's so amazing! They just fly all over this half-pipe, twisting like cats, totally defying gravity. And they're so young and giggly, saying things like "this was the best day ever!" "My goal was to just, like, totally chill out, and it worked!" And they all do little victory dances after their runs, like football players after a touchdown. So different from the figure skaters, who are so somber and adult, with their clenched smiles and clenched fists, who just stare at the board waiting for their scores. I think I want to adopt a little snowboarder, to take home and feed Wheaties to. (Forgive the preposition use, please, Erin, if you read this.)

Is it immature to be so incredibly gleeful that the Texas Wildlife Whatever has issued Cheney a citation? Turns out he didn't have a certificate to even be quail hunting in the first place! The rich and powerful think they can get away with anything. Quail hunting on a private ranch? Who'll ever know? Everybody, once you shoot your friend in the face. Dumbass. Guess I'm still immature then!

Same as usual: work was boring, sister's dog destroyed apartment, etc.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sunday night

Watching the Olympics now. For some reason that red-haired snow-boarder that just won gold medal makes me think of Ron Weasely. Too bad they can't include Quidditch in the Olympics--would that fall into winter or summer sports I wonder? I could see Ron snowboarding instead though. Right. Reality and fiction meld in my mind a little too seamlessly. D and I had dinner at my parent's tonight (beef stew, fixins) and got into a huge literary debate. Very rowdy...fiction versus non-fiction; drama and history...

Grandma is doing a little better; they've moved her from IC to the rehab facility. It's apparently going to be a long, slow recovery process. My dad's had to take over a lot of her financial stuff, get power of attourney and all that. For someone her age, though, she's tough as nails! 95 next month! I hope I'm like her then. Or now, for that matter.

Friday night I went to the 'viewing', wake-type thing for Diana's grandbaby. It seemed the best way to show her some support, but who wants to see the body of dead baby, in a tiny, lacy little coffin? Her poor family, all of them. The mom is younger than my little sister. I've never seen a dead body before--Jews don't have wakes--she didn't look like she was sleeping at all.

I can't believe our vice-president shot somebody on accident. Even Quale never shot anybody. Good grief, it's the least-competent pair in the history of the presidency.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Where to begin?

I haven't posted in awhile because it's been a draining, disturbing week and for some reason I shy away from writing about stuff while it's still raw. So, in no paticular order;

1. My co-worker Diana's grandbaby- the just-born one with the faulty heart and operations, died. She was two weeks old. I feel so bad for her and her daughter and her family... it seems so wrong and unnatural for a baby to die, like in this age of science and wonder, can't they fix everything? I knew it as soon as she walked into the bank, it was written in her face, her eyes, her posture...
like an idiot I find myself trying to find the right words, as though some magic sentence can make her feel better. It's that little masculine side of me; it wants to attack a problem and fix it even when there's not a damn thing in the whole world that can do that. When the only thing to do really is say 'I'm so sorry', and 'Go home, we don't need you here. Go be with your family'.

2. After that, everything seems so trivial. It's not life or death; it doesn't matter. But the night before last, D and I watched a PBS documentary on the sex-slave trade that is apparently thriving in Eastern Europe right now. It was the single most disturbing thing I've ever seen on TV, all these women--wives and mothers!--kidnapped and sold into the most heineous, hellish existence that can be. Forced prostitution... By the end of the show we were both just sort of frozen on the sofa. I was crying, and he might have been, too. It's kind of amazing that this stuff doesn't seem to make the mainstream media news. Why is this happening? How can this happen?

3. Yesterday, D was supposed to work a 2nd shift in order to oversee some plumbing work being done on the hotel. I thought he'd be back by midnight or so. Right. He gets done so late that it's easier for him to stay there and begin the next day--at 7:30--than to come home. He worked straight through from 3 p.m. until about noon the next day. Unbelievable.... my poor sweetie. He was sleeping when I came in tonight around 5 and I think he'll sleep through till morning.

4. And me, because I got no sleep last night without him. Got up late for work, no coffee in the house. Made my lunch but left it on the kitchen counter; left too late to buy coffee on the way to work. So: no coffee, no breakfast, no sleep= massive headache all day long; plus an evil personality that scared my coworkers. They usually only deal with the well-rested, fully-caffeinated Mara. And as I left work, my manager thanked me, and said that I worked very hard. Is this a trick compliment? Is she saying that usually I don't work hard? I didn't think I was working any harder than usual, just that it took more effort than usual b/c of all the above. I feel paranoid. I think I'll go to bed soon.

Saturday, February 04, 2006


1. Work was better on Friday; I had to leave really early or else get overtime, so I had a free afternoon which was nice. I also had a quarterly employee review in which I did really well, and got a lot of kudos for how I did on Wednesday. "You made some really good decisions", "you weren't afraid to jump in and take over the situation" etc etc. As I predicted in an earlier post, my boss is happy that I've taken over all of the bulletin boards and stuff in the backroom ("taking initiative") but I told her that I have to know what needs to be done before I can "show initiative" and do it. A giant out-of-date white-board staring me in the face is one thing, but how can I take on more responsibility if I don't know what needs to be done?

2. Grandma is apparently in stable condition, they aren't going to have to operate or anything like that. She can't eat yet but when she can they'll move her out if IC and into a regular room.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


So, I'm back; sorry for the little absence there. It's been a crappy, draining week so far and I didn't want to write while in such a bad place, plus I was tired.

Kristin, the girl that was promoted over me last month, was a no-call, no-show at work Wednesday. I got to the bank at 7:35 in the morning to find it still closed, no life inside. She was supposed to have opened. This auspicious beginning was followed by the day from hell; Diana was out b/c of the grand-baby; manager at all-morning meeting; supervisor off, etc etc etc. I actually got worried about Kristin, wondered if she was ok and all that. Turns out she TEXT-MESSAGED our supervisor--yes, the one who was not at the bank. Never called me back, never called the bank, never called our manager-- our manager who called Kristin's mom b/c she was worried and upset that she never showed up for work. Forgive me, I use italics to express anger and disbelief.

Turns out she has a fucking ear infection or something. Not the kind of thing that keeps one from calling work.

It sucks to be right all the time.

So, I get home from this day--only an hour and a half late-- to have KK call me; our Grandma has taken a terrible fall and is in the hospital for a lot of broken bones and internal bleeding. OMFG. Grandma will be 95 next month. I'm worried sick now and I don't know what to do. Or what to hope for her. It looks like even the best-case outcome will rob her of what independence she still had, and she's a very independent lady. "Don't help me out of the van. I'm not helpless! I can climb down myself!" "Of course I can still drive! Why wouldn't I drive?' "Nobody can tell me not to take a steak-knife in my carry-on bag. I need it to cut up my fruit. Surely air-line people understand fruit!"

The thought of her being in pain and sedated in a hospital somewhere has me literally sick to my stomach. Our dad is flying up there today to be with her. I didn't realize, but Detroit is hosting the Super Bowl. So he had a really hard time getting airline tickets up there for this weekend; of all the bad luck and timing. It had to be Super Bowl Weekend and Detroit had to host it. Good grief.

Kristin's infection didn't stop her from calling me, at fucking 9:30 last night, to ask if I could open for her on my day off. So, I went to work at seven this morning on my day off and left an hour later. Swell start to the day. Which gets better when D calls: the transmission in his truck has shuffled off this mortal coil and gone on to that great auto-parts place in the sky. And the last time I checked (this morning), he doesn't have a spare $1,500 to get a new transmission. I mean, he does, but it means he can't buy groceries, get sick, or do anything. Double damn. He's already had the truck towed and rented a car for the week. ($$! $$$! Ack!)

Have I mentioned that our apartment complex has raised the rent? Eighty dollars more a month than previously. That started today too. How can money be causing me so much trouble when I have so little of it? Do I lead such a complex life?

Thank you, Ben, for being the bright point of my day with the birthday present and lunch et al. Actually, make that my week. And thank you to the nice State Farm lady who sold me my rental insurance and treated me very nicely even though it was a $112 policy and hardly worth the emails, phone calls, and office visit that were required to seal the deal. It's nice to know that if the place burns down, or if someone falls down our stairs, that we're covered for it.