Monday, May 29, 2006

Gettin' Stuff Done, Again

So, today was just a get-things-done kind of day. It had to be, after the last two days of goofy fun! Don worked on his truck, trying to get it ready to pass inspection (he got pulled over and 'warned' last week) while KK and I went to the laundromat. This was actually very satisfying! The thing is that Don and I are both messy, procrastinating people. We always have a load of laundry in the dryer, one on the dining-room table ready for folding, folded laundry stacked on the piano (yes, nice way to treat the nicest thing I own, I know), and a load moldering in the washer, waiting to dry. The laundry has never been "finished" since we first rented the washer and dryer! Well, we finally had them cart away the rented machines and we dragged (drug?) the dryer up the stairs--a perilous process. I was terrified that Don and dryer would fall back down the stairs. But the washer is still in the garage, and the dryer needs a different plug in order to go into our wall. Hence my first trip in two years to a laundromat. There's nothing quite like coming home with stacks of clean, folded stuff ready to put away! I remember this feeling from Vermont, when Don and I would wait until every single thing in the house was dirty (we're procrastinators, remember?) and I would haul all the sheets, towels, socks, everything down. Three hours later and it was all clean, stacked percariously on the shelves that house had in lieu of a "closet". Today KK and I did our cars while the clothes dried; there's a self-serve carwash across the street from the laundromat. Now my car is shiny and vaccuumed and I have enough clothes to last the week.

We also went to the mall today and I actually bought things-- a rare occurence! Usually we just wander aimlessly, window-gazing, people-watching. The original point was to get Don's hair cut. For reasons I can't fathom, he seems to need moral support for this, because he only goes when I go with him. But there was a long wait at the hair place so we shopped. Victoria's Secret, the Limited, Express-- lots of stuff on sale and I actually had a little spending cash. I need to buy new things more often; I kept saying things like, "Look! The elastic in this underwear is stretchy! And the colors are so bright!" Now I have some new things I really needed-- underthings, pants that I don't have to squeeeeze into. All on sale and bought with cash, yes. At one place the total was 27.06. I had a 100-bill, so I gave the cashier 102.06 to make it nice and even. You would have thought that I'd asked her to perform an appendectomy or something.... seventy-five dollars back, it's not that hard. Silly me thought I was making things easier.

Previous conversation with Don:

Him: So, what is that one called?
Me, on the floor: Downward-facing Dog. It's good for the back and everything.
Him: Yeah, I could see that. . .
Me: You should try it.


Me: Good grief, doesn't that hurt your back?

Don: Nah, it's actually kind of like that Upside-down Dog thing you were showing me ...

(Yes, he is INSIDE the truck hood... it looks like it's trying to eat him...)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Long Way 'Round

Don and I wanted to go to the Arboretum today. And we did go, after a bit. But neither of us knew where it was. He thought maybe it was down by Fair Park, east of the city, so we drove down in that direction, and went all around Fair Park, touring some of Dallas' ickier areas. I thought, maybe it's near the zoo! Which is somewhere near Oak Cliff-- I remember passing it during my job training down there. The Arboretum is not in Oak Cliff. We have driven forever at this point, and somehow we end up in Las Colinas, which is where Don works. Here we stop and buy a Mapsco and find that the Arboretum is.... right on White Rock Lake. Which is so much closer to where we live than anywhere else we've been today. We ended up driving in huge looping circles around the greater Dallas area, almost 80 miles total, to get to White Rock Lake. Crazy, I know.

But the Arboretum was fun! We wandered all around the paths, making wedding plans (by 'making wedding plans' I mean this of course:

Me: "what if we blah blah blah? We could blah! And blah! !"
Don: "OK! Sounds good! Whatever!"


We played in the fountain, made out in the more secluded areas, did all the stupid things that we're old enough to know better but do anyways. All and all it was a nice day, and now he's grilling dinner. Hamburgers and hotdogs, of course, for Memorial Day weekend. Tater salad. I'm going to see if it's almost done yet.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping

Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to
Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle-jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

Though I know that evenin's empire has returned into sand
Vanished from my hand
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping
My weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming.

Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to
Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle-jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

Take me on a trip upon your magic swirlin' ship
My senses have been stripped, my hands can't feel to grip
My toes too numb to step, wait only for my boot heels
To be wanderin'
I'm ready to go anywhere, I'm ready for to fade
Into my own parade, cast your dancing spell my way
I promise to go under it.

Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to
Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle-jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

Though you might hear laughin', spinnin' swingin' madly across the sun
It's not aimed at anyone, it's just escapin' on the run
And but for the sky there are no fences facin'
And if you hear vague traces of skippin' reels of rhyme
To your tambourine in time, it's just a ragged clown behind
I wouldn't pay it any mind, it's just a shadow you're
Seein' that he's chasing.

Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to
Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to
Hey, Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle-jangle morning I'll come followin' you.


I guess everybody has those few songs that they can listen to over and over again, that evoke the same emotional response every time and never get stale or overplayed. This is one of those songs for me. But I wonder how legitimate a connection to a song can be if a song is about one thing to the singer, whether a drug trip or a road trip, a breakup or a death or the Pied Piper; but about something vaguely different to the listener. Can I truly relate to my favorite song if it's about LSD (say some) or a drug deal (say others) without having experienced either? Does the greater theme of loneliness and escape widen the song so that the literal interpretation isn't relevant? Or, does it matter at all? We've all wished for something that would make us forget about today until tomorrow, to take us far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow, to let us dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free with all those cares forgotten, at least until morning...

The depth and darkness of Dylan's imagery is so strong. Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves/ The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach...
It seems incongruous that he recorded it the same year as the Beach Boy's "California Girls" and Sonny and Cher's infamous "I Got You Babe". I think he was on a different page, somewhat. Did they separate music into genres on the radio back then like they do now, with alternative rock here and pop there, or was it all mixed together? Would someone who loved the Monkees suddenly be subjected to the Beatles' Rubber Soul workings? I'll have to ask my dad sometime. Sometimes it seems like that's their most-ignored album, and it's my favorite. You can always hear earlier stuff on the golden oldies station ('I Wanna Hold Your Hand'; 'Hard Day's Night') and later stuff makes it on to the classic rock stations a lot, but you can't hear 'Norwegian Wood' or 'You Won't See Me' unless you own it. The whole record is like a transition piece. But this was supposed to be about Dylan, remember, Mara? Not about the Beatles. Even if he did influence them a bit then.

It's been a weird long week, staying at my parent's house, away from my own little family here. I'm glad to be back but my sleep cycle is all screwed up and it's one in the morning so I'm writing and listening to my best of Dylan CD for the third time through instead of walking Alice and going to bed. Maybe tomorrow I can write with something approaching coherency.

****Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind******

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Gas prices are up! (Yay!)

So at work today I had to listen to some customer bitch and moan about gas prices, about how they're going to hit 5 a gallon, etc, etc, etc. Everyone seems to have this attitude that if situations change in any way from the way things are now, that it's a BAD THING. CHANGE IS BAD. The funny thing is, what's so great about the way things are now? As a country we're overweight, overworked, overstressed, and we spend more than an hour a day (average) commuting to and from work. What would happen if gas got so expensive that we couldn't afford to buy it willy-nilly anymore? Maybe we would have to walk some places instead. Maybe, as a country, we could shed a few pounds from the walking and lose the embarrasing moniker of "world's fattest country." Maybe walking more and losing weight would relieve some of that stress, the stress that creates everything from heatburn/ulcers, to back pain, to heart issues, to . . . weight gain. Especially if, say, we were commuting less; after all those 50/60/80 hour weeks are only compounded by the hellish drive to and fro. Cars are expensive and require insurance, maintenance and fuel. If some of us let them go entirely, a major expense would dissapear from our debit columns. We could work a little less or (more likely) spend the money on something funner, or even reverse the negative-savings trend that keeps people from falling asleep at night. If enough of us could stop driving, maybe we could reduce the smoggy pollution that is destroying the environment, the ozone layer, and our health.

I know what you're thinking... you're thinking, "There's no way in hell I could walk to work, or to anywhere else for that matter! My work is 20 miles away! There's nothing around my house for miles exept other houses... no corner stores, restaurants, libraries or post offices are within walking distance from my home."

Ever since the end of World War II (that's the second one), our cities have been designed on the principle that families have cars, can afford houses, and would prefer to live in the suburbs. Unfortunately this has not proved paticularly true; it just served to separate the haves and have-not-quite-yets by miles instead of blocks. As for the happiness, the suburbs created in one short decade that whole "feminine ennui" thing that's kept women's study authors and novelists busy for decades (you know, when they discovered that there is more to fufillment than a new washer-dryer combo and self-defrosting fridge), and... the teenager, that creature of the suburbs filled with angst and rage and boredom. Lack of true community= major disenchantment. Sleeper cities are no more community than my apartment complex is... we all drive away in the morning, and come home to walk our dogs and sleep. I'm actually convinced that anyone who really likes the suburbs just hasn't had the opportunity to live many other places.

What if, due to the unavailability of fuel, we had to start redesigning our habitats so that we lived and worked in tandem, so that work wasn't more than a short distance from home? This is more possible than ever due to the fact that our jobs are more and more "white collar"; living near office buildings and retail shops is a bit more desireable than, say, a smelting plant. Trust me; my mom grew up right next to some smelting plants. Or something like that. They belched black smoke and looked like something out of Ferngully-- the bad bits. When I get to visit the old, nasty parts of Detroit I totally understand why the suburbs were invented in the first place. But the majority of us don't smelt. It's not like this would require major legislation; people move to places--and take jobs-- in places they'd like to live. A company has an easier time staffing if it locates in an area with a good cost of living, a great climate, lifestyle accoutrements (nightlife, skiing, museums, whatever); an easy, walkable or bikeable commute could become just one more desireable asset to a community.

It's not that cars are evil, or that we shouldn't ever drive anywhere. This is, after all, a country just asking to be explored by vehicle. But maybe a change in the way we live wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. It would certainly be better than scrambling to maintain the status quo: going to war for oil so that we can each drive an SUV, drain our final reserves (destroying everything from fragile tundra to fragile wetlands) so that macho guys can drive their pick-up trucks (just to work and back, they wouldn't want to get the truck-bed dirty), and subsidizing fuel so that every family with one or two kids can maintain their fleet of minivans. All that just to maintain our status as overweight stessed out overworked unhealthy Americans with video players in the back seat.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Doggy Rant

Why is it that some people get dogs, anyways? I just don't get it. I mean, you're introducing a completely different species into your life, with specific needs and abilities. Dogs take effort, work, understanding, and patience. To be a good dog owner you really need to understand dogs, maybe do a little research, to know where they are coming from, so to speak. Unlike having kids, getting a dog is a completely conscious choice, a decision to add a household member that can easily be with you 12 years or longer. I have a co-worker who just got a puppy, a really cute little thing, half Shi-tzu half Maltese or something. She's always saying things like, "if this dog makes my house smell like 'dog', it's outta here!" or "I'm getting rid of this dog if she doesn't stop pooping in my bedroom!" I try to point out that the dog is only 8 weeks old and requires training to not poop wherever, and that if she didn't want dog smell maybe it wasn't such a good idea to get one in the first place... I mean, come on. It would be so typical that someone would spend 200 bucks on a little puppy and take it to the pound a month later, because it turned out that it was, gasp, a dog. On our Long Trek this morning Alice and I ran into a middle-aged woman with a black dog, whom she kept as far from us as possible; not enough to keep it from snarling and growling at mine. Hello, dogs require socialization; they need to learn to get along with other dogs. (And people, children, cats, et cetera.) It's completely irresponsible to have a dog that's so unsocialized, and it's not fair to the dog, who shouldn't have to go through life that way. Alice was like that when we first got her (probably because she's from the shelter) but she got over it, because we were always taking her places where she could interact with dogs nicely, dog parks and such. Shying away from all contact with other dogs only reinforces your pet's behavior, and yes, lady, that was aggression, not fear. Every bookstore has a long shelf of books dedicated to living with dogs, training dogs, understanding dogs... obviously these writers and those that read them realize that there's more to having a dog than just bringing it home with you. Too bad they're not required reading...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hi, My name is Mara and I'm a coffee adict.

Yeah, so I do have a kidney infection, blech. It seems to be behaving, though, and I'm taking my meds like a good girl, so it will all be okay. Still getting used to my new manager at work. He doesn't involve himself so much in what we're doing as the other one did, which is nice. He just lets us get on with it. This is my sixth day with no coffee. It's rough but I slept like a log last night. I don't know if it's just because I was really tired and we went to bed early (10:30), or if it was because Don is sleeping in the living room for his back, or the fact that there's no caffeine in my system, but it was great. I've got to go to work now, yay.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Fightin' with my innards

Ugh, not writing all week because I thought that if I waited, I wouldn't have to write about this draining urinary-tract infection thing I've got going on here. Soooo awful, and for a whole week now. I feel *almost* better except, now my kidneys hurt. I think it's my kidneys, anyways; twin painful spots up in my back. I'm drinking so much water that I pee clear. I've gone cold-turkey on the coffee. I've drunk 3/4 gallon of cranberry juice in the last 3 days-- the really strong kind. Whatever it takes not to have to go to the doctor. All they ever do is prescibe antibiotics, and antibiotics really mess me up. I always end up with more stuff wrong with me than there was before-- yeast infections, the works-- which of course require various treatments. A vicious cycle. I had to take some in January for a nasty throat infection, but that was the first time in maybe 2 years or so. This kidney part is worrying me, though; I've never felt like this before. I hope I don't have kidney stones or something. I think I'm going to visit one of those medical websites now.

Funny moment from Don this weekend:

"So I was walking the dog and thinking about that song, "One-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple people eater", and I realized that must be why there are no longer any purple people, because they were the only kind of people that this monster would eat. Which also explains why the monster itself went extinct-- it demolished its foodsource and couldn't adapt to normal-colored humans instead."

(insert dazed stare from Mara here, then a much-too-long discussion about whether the monster itself is purple or eats purple people, the concept of "made up, not real", and the importance of placing modifyers in the right places ...) Well, at least on one level he understands the concepts of environmental sustainability, k-curves, etc. One of my environmental-studies professors once commented that E.S. is something most little kids understand intuitively but adults have to re-learn. It makes sense, in a way. I'm afraid my stream-of-consciousness-conversation style has had an effect on Don over the years.


Okay, according to WebMD, I need to go to the doctor, afterall; infection may be in kidneys not just in urinary tract. Damn. I guess I'll stock up on the yogurt to take with the cranberry juice....

Saturday, May 06, 2006


You Are 20% Evil

You are good. So good, that you make evil people squirm.
Just remember, you may need to turn to the dark side to get what you want!