Sunday, December 31, 2006

And The Year Of "No Joy" Comes To A Close

So very much to write about.

In an unplanned and yet very-good-for-me kind of way, I have spent almost no time online in the last 11 or so days. Nearly two weeks! I abandoned email, blogging (reading and posting), and various other time sinks (however awesome they may be) and spent time in the real, flesh-and-blood world. I reconnected with my family, spent good, quality time with Ish, and took some big relaxing breaths.

A lot has happened. I have a lot to share. I haven't written much of substance in a long time, and not because I haven't been thinking it...but because it's big.

Just one example - my family had to clean out and sell my dad's house. Dealing with the finality of both my parents being gone has been difficult enough for all of us, but dealing with the insipid and insensitive details of paperwork and finances and oh, my father's debts. After months and months, my sisters and aunt and cousins and friends and almost-mom-in-law took what we wanted of memories and knick-knacks and furniture and said goodbye to everything else.

I only wanted the photos, and so one day, not long before the crazy holiday season started, I got them. Two big boxes full of memories of my family and parents. Meaningful, and sad. And then buried in the boxes were some things of my mom's from years ago. Love letters she wrote to and received from men long before she met my dad.

How do you process that? Dad's gone. The house is gone. It comes down to two boxes, and one of them includes secrets and details about a woman's life I didn't know nearly enough about.

I still don't write about my mom here very often. There's a whole lot to say.

The year wasn't all bad, though. I don't mean to give that impression. It's just that the hard things are really difficult to write. I never know where to start. My relationship with Ish is fantastic, but it's scary and hard, too. He is going through a divorce and that puts me in a very difficult space, because I want to tell you all about my scared-ness, but have to be respectful, too.

Maybe I can now. Maybe this year will be the year to start.

Wow. "This" year.

So 2007. Lots of posts coming. Lots of reflection, lots of funny. Lots of not holding back.

For now, though? For tonight? Lots of staying in and celebrating life and love. Lots of champagne, too.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Quick Update

The last things on my list left to ship to the East Coast seem to be me and Ish.

We leave today. :) (I'm so excited he's coming with me!!!)

More entries will follow, but a bit sporadically.

And so as not to leave you with a no-entry entry, here is a picture of me with my best dog growing up. His name was Boggle. He's a French Sheepdog (a Briard).

me and boggle

I am the same height today as I was when I was 10, as in this picture.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Most Fun Holiday Game EVER!

I'm calling it, "Guess Which Side of the Family the Retarded Came From."

What's that? Oh, please. We HAVE to have a sense of humor about these things, and plus hello! NO website out there comes with directions for how to handle this doozy of a diplomatic family issue.

The whole situation is incredibly difficult. And it's not like my family isn't sensitive -- hell, I think we compensate for our over-sensitivity by being incredibly sarcastic.

We've had a helluva hard time, my family, but we've always managed to get by okay by finding humor in things. Even where there maybe ought not to be.

A favorite example comes to mind...
My mother has just died. Family and friends are meeting up near the dock, where we'll be boarding a boat to take us to a small island off the coast of Maine. We're traveling for her funeral; she will be buried on the island.

My father is unpacking the car he came in, getting help from his best friend, Roger. My father hands Roger some luggage, some soft drinks, a bag.

The last thing my father grabs from his car is the urn containing my mother's ashes.

I watch as my father holds the urn in both his hands and looks at Roger. He hesitates for a moment. Something has crossed his mind. He's not sure how to proceed.

But he can't resist.

With apologetic eyes and a sheepish grin that emerges unexpectedly and seems a bit out of place, my father holds the urn towards Roger. And he says it.

"Take my wife, please."

Roger bows his head. And laughs.


So right. The "diplomatic" family issue.

In case you're new here, my sister just found out that her son -- the first baby in my immediate family -- has a genetic disorder that will cause him to have some mild to moderate mental delays.

That doesn't seem very funny to me, you might be thinking. And you'd be right. Mostly. The disorder isn't funny. Nor is the genetic nature of this situation: Charlie inherited it from my sister who inherited it from one of our parents who inherited it and so on. And now that it's surfaced in this generation, it will affect how my sisters and I approach having (more) kids, and can affect our cousins, too. No, not funny.

Except um.

Well, we don't know what side of the family it came from yet. And even though "carriers" of this syndrome may not have a full-blown version of it and may not show any signs at all...sometimes carriers of this syndrome do have symptoms.

So not only do we get to play "Which side of the family did the disorder come from," but until we know, we can kind of quietly play, "Which side of the family seems more likely to have passed on a bit of mental disability?"

Is that not good old-fashioned holiday fun?

Because if you ever thought your family was crazy (and I know you have), let me tell you: this little twist adds a whole new dimension. You know, the twist wherein you realize those suspicions you held at the holiday table years ago about that relative who seemed just a bit "off" to you? Turns out, you could have been very, very right. And you may be next!

It's just that the more I think (and giggle, sorry) about it, the more I realize there is strong evidence to suggest that this genetic mental "un-swift-ness" really could have come from either side of the family.

And so now, for your holiday bemusement I share a Sammis-family, Christmastime story with you that involves my forehead.

And my cousin's forehead.

And anecdotal evidence to suggest a paternal inheritance.
[Dear Nate,

Merry Christmas! Hahahahahahaha!

Love,
Kiki]

My cousin Nate, who appears here in the comments every now and then, and who is a contributor on Atlas Chugged, is a year older than I am. He grew up in Maine with his brother and I grew up in Connecticut with my sisters. Our families would get together at Christmas and for various other occassions throughout the year.

While Nate and I have never been too good at staying in touch on a regular basis, we get along famously when we're together.

One Christmas when we were some unfortunate age, I'd say maybe 13 and 14, we discovered we had very similar haircuts. While his hair was mostly short, he had grown out his bangs. His hair parted on the side, so his bangs swooped over his forehead. If he chose, he could tuck his hair behind his ear, or leave it down and have it cover one eye.

For our younger readers, please understand that this was an incredibly fashion-forward look at the tiem. Also? Be grateful you weren't trying to look good as a teenager in the 80s.


My hair, on the other hand, was longer -- shoulder length, I'd say -- and ALSO included grown-out bangs that ALSO swept over one eye in a most dramatic way.

We were hot.

At one point, we decided to look at a family photo album. We sat next to each other on a window seat. I believe I was on the left, Nate was to my right. As we looked at the photos, our heads hanging over the album, we realized that both of our bangs were hanging onto the photo pages.

We thought this was funny. We thought we were so cool with our same hair and how funny was it that our same hair hung over the pictures and hey, wouldn't it be like, even more funny to like, point at things in the photos with our hair?

Totally!

So we did. We started pointing to photos with our bangs and laughing and thinking we were silly but awesome. And then the fates conspired against us. (Probably the fates were thinking we had no business having those hair cuts and needed to be taught a lesson.)

And so, while we were laughing and hair-pointing, both of us kind of pulled back from the album in opposite directions, and then at the same time, we very suddenly decided to point to something in the center of the book.

There was a loud CRRAAAAACK! as our foreheads careened into one another so very, very hard.

I saw spots. I started to tear up. I could feel the heat of the golf ball-sized bump forming on my forehead. I looked at Nate, who seemed to be in the same predicament. We rushed ourselves to the kitchen for cold compresses.

Unfortuately, we were too hasty. We should have taken the few extra minutes to come up with a better story for why our foreheads were sprouting mountainous bruises than the one we had.

But we didn't. So we stood in the kitchen, in pain, with ice against our heads, having to explain to our mercilessly sarcastic family that we were bruised, probably for life, because we LOST CONTROL OF OUR HEADS WHILE POINTING AT PICTURES WITH OUR HAIR.


Dad's side of the family, I'm looking at you.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Eight Is A Lot Of Legs, David

Ahhhhh.

(Please note: that is a relaxed Ahhhhh sound, not to be mistaken for an AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! which one might expect me to be hurling around here given that Christmas is just over a week away and right.)

I spent today shopping and wrapping and finally had an opportunity to put Love Actually* on. This means it's offically the Christmas season and I'm ready to get festive.

My ghetto tree is decorated and standing and lit, and I'm finding it highly enjoyable that my cats are stupid.

Seriously. My cats are so used to being naughty and eating any growing plantlike thing that comes into this apartment that they keep trying to SNEAK EAT my fake tree.

What am I supposed to do with that?

And you know what I mean by the "sneak eat" right?

It's a move I have seen more dogs perform than cats, actually. You know, where their head is dangerously close to a table that has food on it, but the dog knows it's not allowed to eat that food. So the dog just sits there, pretending not to drool, giving you a look that says, "I'm suuuuuuuch a good dog, and I'm sooooooooo sweet and see how well I'm behaving and not eating anything? See? See? Can I be rewarded with food now?"

And you think "My God, I am a good dog trainer."

And then you turn your head to talk to someone else, and the dog will watch you and then carefully, oh-so-casually leeeeeeeeaan its head toward the food and carefully, oh-so-casually extend its tongue out of its snout and carefully, oh-so-casually lick the food into its mouth and chew it quietly so as not to disturb your conversation.

THAT kind of sneak eat.

My cats do essentially the same thing with flower arrangements. They stalk the arrangements very quietly, keeping an eye on me. They sit close to the flowers and then just stare at me, waiting for them to notice how good they're being. "Huh? What? I'm just sitting." And so I look away and the next thing I know they're snarfing down potentially poisonous leaves.

As a side note, I do hope my cats never die from this habit. I used to think that cats had some instinct about which leafy things would be poisonous and which wouldn't, but that was before I discovered my cats trying to eat my PLASTIC TREE. And dear Darwin in heaven, I have discovered my cats trying to eat my plastic tree MORE THAN ONCE.

The point is, I finally feel like it's Christmas. I feel like I'm not quite as behind as I felt last week.

This year, I have even managed to buy and wrap and package and ship (well, almost, we're working on it) gifts for my Family/Friends in New York who might well have a group heart attack upon receipt of said gifts. Mostly my gifts to them are sporadic at best, and I think ONE year I got ONE of them something in time for Christmas morning.

I have known them my whole life.

So they may well wonder what has gotten into me, what with gifts for them in time for December 25** except they will probably feel somewhat assured when they realize my package includes wedding gifts for Hakuna.

For the record, Hakuna was married in October of 2004. I have had one gift for her since August of 2004, and one since November of 2005. Merry Christmas, 2006!

Also for the record, Hukuna and her daughter (my best friend, Em) manage to send wonderful, indulgent and thoughtful gifts to my entire family, every year, on time. Including the year Em HAD A BABY ONE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS.***

How do you have any kind of excuse in return?

"Oh, um, hi...yeah...with um, the mess that I am and cats and um...problem with the yarn...wine..."

Right.

But this year there are signs that I am finally getting my act together just a little bit. And that? THAT is worth celebrating.




*The title of my post is a silly quote from the movie, Love Actually.

**I am entirely tempting fate by writing this post because, while all things are purchased and wrapped, they have not yet Shipped Actually.

***She had her second baby this past week. Couldn't not say anything, but it/she/they deserve their own post. :)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Yo Yo'self.

I am writing this from a cafe where my lunch consisted of a poppy-seed bagel and coffee (because it was also my breakfast even though it's well after noon because this is what happens when you work from home and sit down at your computer sometime before 8 a.m. to "check email" and then it's four hours later and you haven't had caffeine yet and that explains why the soulful look from your cat made you a little weepy).

Yes, the caffeine should restore my chemical equilibrium.

In the meantime, I feel like I should point out that um. I'm not sure what it is about this particular cafe, but I am entirely surrounded by men on laptops and I swear that every one of them is gay. How does that happen? Did they all call each other this morning?

And also it is totally destroying my Gay Man Ideals because none of them are on Macs. Witnessing a gay man using a clunky, old-edition Dell laptop in the high-tech Bay Area is kind of like witnessing a gay man wearing acid washed jeans.

On the plus side, I guess I don't have to worry if I have poppy seeds nestled between my teeth or stuck to my chin the way I would if I thought the men would be checking me out.

Whew.

I have no explanation for the man directly next to me, either. He is an older Asian gentleman in a baseball cap with gray Fu Manchu facial hair who, as far as I can tell, has come to this internet cafe with his laptop to play the online slot machines.

* * * *

Last night was the BlogHer Holiday Meet-Up and I think it was an overall success. I didn't know how stressed I was about it until last night, post-party, when I felt a tremendous release.

Now I just have 729 things to do before I leave for Massachusetts. In five days.

Hahahahahahahahaha.

* * * * *

TheBoy (I think I should just call him "T" from now on, seeing as he was TheBoy when we were dating and that ship's sailed and we're friends and whatever) T sent me this link today about all the blog cliches currently suffering from tremendous overuse.

I have been thinking about this for a long time myself, because the more blogs I read (and write), the more I realize we're many of us starting to sound alike.

I am not posting the link because I'm cranky about it because I use EVERY ONE OF THEM.

Fine. Here it is. Read it and weep. (And not from caffeine deprivation in this case.)

In my defense, I've been writing like this (this = cliched vernacular circa Clueless) in my emails and casual correspondence since long before I knew what a blog was.

But okay. Point taken. Yo.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It Is Time (A Poll)

You know, for 1.5 years, I was completely without cable.

I had a TV, a DVD player and VCR, but no active "channels." No TiVo, not even the ghetto, Comcast-issued DVR. Nothing.

What's this you say about Lost? Huh? Who is Carrie Underwood? The Amazing what now? No, I have not seen that commercial.

It was a sad state of affairs, but I was resolved. I was tired of spending a couple hours every evening watching bad television. For every hour of "good" TV, I was certain to watch at least an hour of something I really didn't need to see. And not just re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-reruns of The Simpsons, but things like infomercials for face creams (or rather, Facial Cream Systems) and Guerra De Los Sexos! on the Spanish channel.

I do not speak Spanish.

So I used my downtime to do other things. Like blog. And knit. And date. My plan worked. But then. Ohhhhhh, but then.

Last Christmas everything changed.

Of course you can come stay with me... my dad's fiancee had said. It was the last night of my holiday vacation back east, and I had been invited to stay with Jane and spend the night with her and her daughter.

...we can stay up and watch Project Runway.

I didn't think much of it.

I didn't know.

And then, back-to-back, one, two, THREE episodes! Ohmygod. Tim Gunn is so great and encouraging and smart and WHY has no other show had someone like him? I love you! Carry on! And Heidi is so gorgeous and cute and adorable -- SO adorable that when she tries to be all snide and scary, she's just cuter. Ha, ha! And remember? Last December? With Santino! And Ahhhhhndre! And Nick! And WHERE THE HELL IS MY CHIFFON!?!?!?

I got cable.

And now, a year later, my life is very different. I watch television. I don't watch a lot, just enough to warrant my cable bill (and the ghetto DVR it comes with).

I love Project Runway. I enjoy Top Chef. I am THRILLED about Top Design. And you know, American Idol.

And now that I am owning up to this, I have made an executive, creative decision. Are you ready?

I am going to blog about television shows.

Does this matter? Probably not. Do you care? Probably not. But I have just decided it's silly not to talk about them so whatever.

Anyway, my quick poll question, which I'm assuming very few of you have any interest in answering is this:

A. Do I post my recaps here?

or

B. Start a totally different blog?

Any emails and comments will be greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sexy Secrets Revealed!

Or not at all!

Because this is maybe the least sexy secret ever! Whatever!

Evil Secret!

* * * * *


I nearly choked on my diet coke when I heard.

"You're working where?" I asked my friend, who I had always thought shared my political beliefs. "But...but...how?...are they...they're out here? How did this happen?"

My reaction was shared by others. You don't live in San Francisco and then up and work for Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart!?!? It just isn't done.

"It's not exactly Wal-Mart," she said. "It's Walmart DOT COM, and it's not what you think."

But I didn't want to listen. I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to have my friend's place of employ be a source of contention in our relationship. She knew all the arguments I would make, anyway.

Certainly you're familiar with them. You know, the ones where you lay out any basic liberal premise and then illustrate the ways in which Wal-Mart fucks it.

I just shrugged my shoulders and tried not to think of it. It's not like I could persuade her to change her mind and quit her fabulous new job.

And as her uber-liberal, British boyfriend said to me, "She didn't create the problem. Maybe she can help be a part of the solution." Or something like that. Fine. Whatever.

But then a few months after she started working there, she learned that I was officially looking for a new job -- something that would actually advance my stalled career. And she did what any good friend would do: started forwarding me job descriptions from her company.

I didn't want to seem ungrateful, and I didn't want to spark controversy, but um. No. I do not go to work for Wal-Mart. That's the craziest thing I've ever heard. I don't care what the position is, I can't go in and --

-- huh? What's this? The best job description I've ever read?

Fuck.

So what did I do? Did I declare, "Absolutely not! I don't care that this position was written with my very own resume in mind! I don't care that it would mean working for the largest and most reputable companies in the entire world, because who cares what Fortune thinks? Old white men! I live in San Francisco! Yay Peet's Coffee! Boooooooo to the boxed stores! Fuck you all!"

I did.

And then I forwarded my resume to my friend anyway.

The truth is, I was weak. I desperately needed a new job -- not just for more money, but because my kick-ass boss was on her way out and her replacement? Oh, for the love of pete. May I someday have the balls to write about him because I want to and he deserves it.

No, I could not have handled reporting to that man.

And so I interviewed at Walmart.com.

And it was...well, it was nothing at all like I expected. I expected the worst, and found myself instead at a typical Bay Area dotcom. I met cool people, smart and interesting people, people who cared about what they were doing, and took pride -- however modest -- in the fact that their work would impact millions of people every day.

So when they offered me the job, I took it.

Yes, dearest Invisible Internet Friends who are right now at this moment deleting me from their bookmarks and RSS feeds, I worked for Walmart.com.

I. Worked. For. Wal-Mart.

Sheesh. It seems so odd to write that. To see it in type. But it's true. I did work there, and I had a pretty darn good time doing it.

Does this mean I'm pro-Wal-Mart? Um, no. It does just mean, simply, that I think some elements of Wal-Mart and its brethren aren't completely, 100% spawned from the devil. Some of the ideas, some of the ethics are admirable. Yes, the execution falls short...

Ultimately, I think:
  • Wal-Mart has the ability (size, power, capacity, infrastructure) to change the world for good. It does. Period.

  • Wal-Mart does not understand why people hate it so much. I don't think it takes its dissenters seriously. Or if it does, certainly it's not seriously enough.

  • Until Wal-Mart embraces and internalizes why and the extent to which they are hated, real positive change won't be possible.

  • In the meantime, I would like to see the dissenters offer realistic proposals for change, working WITH Wal-Mart and not against it. Wal-Mart has almost unlimited reach and resources that could help millions of people worldwide. Why aren't they?
* * * * *

Anyway, there it is. Hardly sexy, but revealing nonetheless. And in case you're wondering?

Yes, I had to do the Wal-Mart cheer.

No, I didn't have to wear the blue vest.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Fear Your Holiday Inbox

Dear Knitting World At Large,

Please explain.

OMGKnitHat


Thank you,
k


p.s. I received the above photo in my email inbox this afternoon. Don't believe me? Go see for yourself - the hat comes with a shawl. Well, and a prostitute from the looks of it.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Super Saver Sucker

Ah, but I've come to expect this from Amazon.

I found THE PERFECT gift for Ish. Added it to my Amazon cart. Knew damn well that it would be entirely possible that things would ship after Christmas and so I was prepared. I was braced.

Six items in my cart. Proceeded to check-out. Edited my Ship To and Bill To addresses. Added a new credit card. And the result?

Five of the items will ship and arrive before Christmas.

The perfect gift for Ish?

Uh huh.

Amazon Order

Being prepared for this makes it a little less painful, but not entirely.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Is It Okay...

...if I feel worn out from Christmas shopping and I haven't even left my house to do it?

In the last, say, two days, I have spoken to my sisters about a hundred million times, been to quite possibly hundreds of online stores, and sent no fewer than 15 emails all in the name of finding the perfect gifts.

It's a new kind of holiday shopping stress, I guess. Now that we have all the resources in the universe at our fingertips, what is our excuse for spending $45 on something when you might possibly maybe could be able to get it for $41.50 with free shipping? And once you have found yourself thinking this way, the madness begins.

I can get this Widget at Store X for $45. Shipping isn't really very good, though. Still, I can also get that Hoo-Ha and Whatsit here, too. That is a pretty good collection of things. But man. Store Y has the Widget for $41.50 and with free shipping. Yay! Oh, but they don't have the Hoo-Ha, they only have the Hoo-Hee. Is that good enough? The prices are comparable. Would my sister mind getting the Hoo-Hee? Fucking Store Y doesn't carry anything like the Whatsit though. Maybe I should forget the Whatsit altogether. I really love my free shipping. Maybe Store Y has other cooler things I haven't even thought of...

:: call from sister interrupting shopping trauma::

What? What do you mean you got her the Hoo-Hey? I was just going to get her the Hoo-Hee. ...no, no, fine. You get it for her...no, I have to re-think my Whatsit strategy anyway, since I really want to get the Widget with free shipping....It does???Store Z has $1.00 shipping till WHEN?...


And then suddenly it's 10:30 p.m. and your eyes are crossed and you're not sure you're making the right decisions and you're weighing shipping costs versus delivery times and realize you literally have 28 shopping carts open at different online stores and have, in the end, when all is said and done, purchased exactly one bottle of hand lotion.

* * * *

I am back from Chicago. I left at 6 a.m. on Monday and returned at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, so it was a quick trip. I didn't get to see a lot of the city, and was mostly running around, but what I did see, I liked. I think the conference in July will be amazing. Updates to come.

And for any of you IIFs who live in the area and might want to help me out in an informal ("that place? that place sucks!") kind of way, please email me. Thanks!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Winter Wonderland

As Ish was getting dressed at 6-something on Sunday morning to go back to his place to inject his diabetic cat --

I haven't even gotten into this story yet. But not only has Ish acquired his two cats, one is -- yes -- diabetic and needs a shot of insulin every 12 hours or he'll die.

I know.

At this point I fear you might think I'm just making all these family and pet illnesses up, but I am not. And what makes this even crazier is that Ish ISN'T EVEN THE FIRST shaven-headed, goatee-sporting man I've dated who, following the dissolution of a relationship, has gotten custody of more than one cat, INCLUDING A CAT WHO REQUIRES INJECTIONS. Let me say that again. NOT THE FIRST ONE. ElG had (well, still has) a cat who requires a saline drip, every day, drip drip, or he will die.

IIFs, I could not make this up if I tried.
--I looked up and saw him standing before my veritable winter wonderland. You know, the half-lit, fake, misshapen, ghetto Walgreens tree atop my bedroom desk next to the plastic container of other holiday accoutrements that also probably don't work.

I couldn't help but laugh at my pathetic excuse for Christmas decor. (Also? It was 6 on a Sunday morning and at that time pretty much you have to laugh or else you will cry.)

I asked him (from bed, because even though HE has to get up and go at 6 in the morning doesn't mean I have to) to please bust out with his camera phone and take a picture of my collection in all its glory. So he plugged the tree in and took this picture and now here it is for you.
Winter Wonderland
Not so much celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ

who I just typed as "Jess" Christ (because I am exhausted because I got up THIS morning at 4 a.m. to get to Chicago and do busy, important things, which is why my last post consisted entirely of my teeth chattering). You know, Jess? Jess Christ? Jesus' little sister? Dude, you totally had a crush on her, don't lie to me.

Ohmygodsotired.

--as it is an illustration in My Domestic Failures, File #2509.

Fa la la la laaaaaaa.

Um?

Brrrrr.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dear Purl:

Thank you for sharing your horrific hairstory with us. It is nice to know that we all went through some very unfortunate-looking years (mostly those double-digit ages beginning with the number 1...), particularly in the hair department. Ugh.

And so, in the merry, seasonal spirit of solidarity, I offer two words to you:

Permed. Bangs.

permed bangs

Love,
k

14

No, I am not referring to my mental age, though I appreciate you going there.

No, I am not referring to my clothing size because we are not discussing weight, size, poundage, heft, bulk, disgrace, working out, or fat or calories until (probably) after the holidays because I just do NOT have the bandwidth. I lost basically no weight in 2006 and don't think that's going to change between now -- DECEMBER, by the way -- and New Year's. Because with turkey and eggnog and the fact that I'm spending Christmas with my family and my cousin Nate who once dubbed himself Boozy Clause, it's just not realistic.

I guess my "No Joy in '06" plan -- the plan wherein I was going to rein in my spending and my eating and hunker down and grow up -- worked VERY WELL except for the weight part. Which was kind of the whole fucking point. So oops and we'll have to come up with something catchy for '07.

Anyway.

14 is the number of degrees it is threatening to be at some point next Tuesday when I am in Chicago.

[Attn: BlogHer babes -- going to Chicago to scout venues for us to rock the uber BlogHer Con '07. Woo to the oot!]


That's like, barely more degrees than I can count on my fingers and you know what also isn't cute? When one of the venue ladies you're going to meet with adds a P.S. in her email that says, "Bring your snow boots!"

Snow boots?

I did grow up in a land where it snowed and so I mean, I am not oblivious to this sort of thing, but I live in California now. Where, sure, it gets damn cold but that doesn't mean we stop wearing our flip-flops.

I'm not really sure what the point of this entry is, other than to share that I am going to Chicago next week on a business trip and feel very grown up about it. Especially because I was adult enough to get my winter coat over to the dry cleaners this morning after I realized that it was:
A. the only nice, business-ish coat I own; and
B. covered in splattered ketchup

True, I'm not sure how showing up with a ketchup-splattered coat could be any less professional than having my cat hock up a hairball while on the phone with the vendor I'll be visiting, but you know. Appearances and all that.

In case you're wondering about the ketchup, I will tell you. A few nights ago, I was out grabbing a quick bite with Ish. And the "quick bite" involved being at a hamburger joint that had one of those push-down-on-the-plastic-spout tubs of ketchup I have managed to use without incident my whole life. Ish sidled right up to it and pushed down and got a simple, easy, steady stream of ketchup.

But.

Then I used it. And while I didn't push too hard or fast or uncarefully, my breezy elegance must have sent a secret message to the tub that I had been condiment-free for like, a whole week and so it decided to do its civic duty and clog, suddenly. And then unclog, suddenly.

*SPLAT*

Ketchup droplets all over my shirt. All over the insides of my pink coat. (Yes, I said INSIDES. Outside alone wouldn't be enough.)

I just looked up at Ish, who said reflexively, "Awww, sweetie." And then laughed at me.

This is how it goes all the time. We've had practice. I spill / trip / fall / drip. I look at Ish. He says "Awww, sweetie" and then tries not to laugh too hard while mopping me up.

It reminds me, actually, of my brilliant friend Missy, who said to me once, "My husband just sort of follows me around with paper towels."


But did I mention? 14 degrees? Oh, and SNOWING? At least my coat will be clean.

I wonder which pair of flip-flops will go best.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fool Me Once

Hooooooo no.

Melissa, who I'm sure was just being sweet and helpful, commented the following:
Don't let any of it fool you. amazon says:

(direct quote) "want it by dec. 22? 17 days left for free super saver shipping
21 days left for two-day shipping"

17 days! and they will still send you stuff for free. and the amazon is the big gorilla that has everything. williams sonoma, go pound sand!

Now, some of you faithful readers may recall that I discovered Amazon saying the same thing last year. And even if you don't, you should really go read the archives because they can save you from being the dot-cocky shopper I was right up until I had a good old-fashioned holiday freakout.

The brief freak-out is summarized here where I use the word FUCK a lot.

The ways in which Amazon reached in and stole my super-saver shipping dreams from me and nearly left all of my family devoid of any christmas presents is discussed here. BE WARNED.

But even funnier?

I was perusing my archives and read the part about how I decided for some mystery reason to make meatballs for a holiday party despite that I don't really cook. The results were um, funny. But here's my favorite part about this archive:
i made enough for a group of 8 to 10 people to have as a side dish (as meatballs are generally intended) and have enough meat leftover to make about 842 more. or so.

on the other hand, this has allowed me the rare opportunity to announce that as of this moment, i have actual LEFTOVERS in my fridge. like, something i could make an actual MEAL out of.

Do you know why this is so funny?

Because a few weeks ago, when I went through my major apartment overhaul and got rid of lots of things (and Ish hid in the kitchen and decided to clean my fridge) do you know what he found in the freezer?

Yes, of course. So despite that I hand made something from scratch and had leftovers and even went so far as to pack and freeze them, I still never managed to eat them.

I fear for my someday children.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Behind

I'd like to point out that it isn't even December yet. That I still have turkey leftovers in my fridge and they are in good shape. That even though Williams-Sonoma wants to give me a heart attack, it is still November and I really don't accept the fact that I am behind.

Except I know I am.

How does everyone do it? How do you flick the Holiday Switch on? I feel like it was only days ago that I was traipsing around the city as one-fourth ABBA, and the next thing I know my a cappella group is standing in front of a Christmas tree in a mall singing Do You Hear What I Hear? for bored and hungry people waiting for their tables at the TGIRubyChiliBees next door.

I mean, as fun as the mall-singing was (and it actually was, I felt like I was in grade school again!), I do not feel the Holiday Spirit yet.

Instead, I hear the music at the grocery store (Is there anything more cliched and pathetic than buying frozen Lean Cuisine pizzas at a discount grocery store while Feliz Navidad plays in the background? No. No, there is not.) and see the lights on the streets and jingling commercials on television and know there are eggnog lattes out there waiting for me, but I'm just not ready. I refuse to believe that there are only like, 20-some shopping days left until Christmas. That just can't be right, can it?

Over the weekend I begrudgingly pulled my Christmas Decorations Box out of my closet and re-assembled my fake tree from last year and got as far as sitting both of them on my desk in my bedroom. They remain there, laughing at me.

The tree, I should note, came with pre-strung lights, and even though it took me the better part of a half-hour to get it standing upright despite that it's only 3 feet tall and I HAD A FRIEND HELPING ME, for some reason only the bottom half of the tree will light. Ish tried to fix the problem last night and nearly electrocuted himself. I figure at this point I have two options -- un-pre-string the tree of its lights and use my own (which will, I'm certain, take a good two hours at the least), or go buy another altogether. It was only $20.

I suppose option three would be to put all the Christmas stuff back in the closet and pretend it doesn't exist, which is really what I'm leaning towards.

It's not that I don't like the holiday season. I do. I like singing and mingling and festiv-ing and eating and drinking and making merry. I love shopping for my family and -- well, I don't like the traveling part -- then seeing my family and being back east where there is real winter weather.

I just wish that would all start in about another month.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Run, Turkey, Run

A few years ago, I accidentally stumbled upon this website, showcasing a 2nd grade classroom's collections of poems about The First Thanksgiving.

What I can discern from these poems is that the class all heard the same version of the story (and it involved beer). Then, for the sole purpose of allowing me to indulge in a snarkfest that makes rather plain the fact that I am not around young children much at all, "Alex's mommy" posted them online.

With all due respect, these poems are maybe the funniest things I have ever read.

* * * *

Now, first of all, we have the title:

Title

How much you wanna bet that Alex's mommy also has a MySpace page? I'm just saying.

But on to the really good stuff.

Here we have a very good example of the kind of average poem the class produced:

Mayflower

And when I say average (sorry, Arianna), I simply mean there is no drama or hyperbole or random Thanksgiving wish. Blah blah blah food, Pilgrims, Mayflower.

Although Arianna did pick up on a couple details that several other children in the class also noted: namely, that the Pilgrims "had to" drink beer and also that they went the wrong way.

Um, hello? Since when has the Thanksgiving story involved a kegger and drunk driving? Where was that story when I was growing up?

1st Drunk Pilgrim Named John: Hey, John? [hiccup] JOHN! Get o'er here. Hey. Hey, John? You know I love you, man. And I don' wanna upSET an'one, but-- Whoa! I love your hat you know that? How'd you get that buckle to shine like that? John I got a concern. I kin'a feel like maybe when we were jumpin aroun' out here in the togas -- dude, we gotta do that again -- but I'm not sure the auto-captain worked so good, you know what ahm sayin? Like look, look. There. Does that look kinda NORTH to you?

2nd Drunk Pilgrim Named John: TOGA! TOGA!

Seriously, that would have made for a much better filmstrip when I was in grade school. Mayflower gone all Animal House.

Anyway.

Danielle's take is a little different. No absence of drama here:

Squanto

Danielle seems to have something of a rescue fantasy going on. I picture a Harlequin-esque romance novel with Danielle's name and a Fabio-looking Squanto on the cover. I'd call it, Squanto's Salt.


This next poem by Treimane is especially lyrical if you read it aloud.

Too Many Turkeys

At first I thought Treimane was just phoning it in with this one, but once I recited it for a roomful of people I understood its true genius. Try it.


I think perhaps Anthony is having a little trouble keeping various traditions straight.

I Eat Turkey

Good luck with that, Anthony.


And now we come to my favorite group of poems, which amuse me in inappropriate ways, as I'm pretty sure all of these children have some serious mental and/or emotional issues. These are children I would fear.

Take Mike's for example:

Turkey Legs

Sure, I'm projecting, but if you read this in a Hannibal Lechter voice -- especialy the "ha ha" part, this poem is very, very creepy.

Use that same calm, terrifying voice to read this one and it's even creepier:

Turkey Goes Wils

The turkey would never let us out of here?

I notice that Garrett has used the word "out" three times in five lines. I feel like Garrett has an underlying sense of need to escape. Perhaps from the voices in his head.

The turkey! The turkey wouldn't let me out! It wanted to keep me trapped! TRAPPED. It was never going to let me out of here. SO I ATE IT.

But my all-time favorite is this gem by Evan:

Run Turkey

Evan here seems a little...conflicted.

I get that it's hard to reconcile the whole cute-pretty-feathers-gobble-gobble part of the turkey with the delicious, slathered in gravy and potatoes part of the turkey. However. "In my belly you are cute" really is a creepy notion.

Like with domestic abusers whose excuse is essentially "I only hit her 'cause I love her" I hear a young, matter-of-fact Evan whispering to the bird, I only eat you 'cause I love you.

* * * *

So those are my Thanksgiving Day highlights. Because if making fun of 7-year-olds doesn't say Happy Holidays, I don't know what does.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

SUCKAHS!!!!

Anyone who is remotely familiar with me or my family or my childhood knows that:

a. I love to shoot videos, and

b. I should never be allowed to shoot videos

The b. part is because I am a ridiculously bad videographer, who has a tendency to shoot, say, 27.8 hours worth of Footage Of The Hotel ("here are the stairs to the lobby") and forget to film any member of my family doing, really, anything.

Oh, except occassionally I'll think to point the camera at someone and ask if they have anything to say, which they never do.

But to all of this I say OH WELL HAHAHAHAHA because it occurred to me yesterday *poof* just like that, that my camera takes video and also the YouTube is easy to work and WHOA!

So, for your viewing pleasure (ahem) I present to you, IIFs and The Internets, amazingly horribly filmed video footage of NONE OTHER THAN............
...........
................
..................(if you use lots of ellipses it means it's a drumroll)..........

my CATS!

Oh, lucky day!

Yes. Here we have my cats, who have both made mad rushes to LEAP up to my desk to get treats that are actually just "Craisins." They don't understand. They want to know why the bag sounds so much like treats and yet does not smell like hardened crunchy chicken powder.



The awful sound you hear in the background, by the way, is my radiator going on. I am so used to it that I didn't even realize it was making sounds until I watched the video playback. Even though I have learned the radiator rules, sometimes the thing still likes to clang just to remind me that I have chair rails and hardwood floors.

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror...

So you may have noticed that I'm not much for celebrity gossip. I like to know what's going on, of course, but I really just don't care. I can't care. If I cared, I'd spend all of my time rolling my eyes and muttering and quite possibly throwing things at the television and pointing and shouting at crap magazines that don't answer because the celebrities these days? They are mostly horrible human beings who are stupid and self-absorbed and out of touch and CRAZY with the ALIENS and but! They are dazzling! And famous! And I love them!

I am conflicted.

I am also in love with Britney. Do not ask, it just is. (And if you ask me, which you didn't but hi! My blog!) the only real parenting mistake she made was having the damn babies in the first place knowing full well who their godforsaken father was going to be.


Anyway.

I bring this up just because I noticed something while standing in line at the grocery store last night.
Did you hear that? That I was at a grocery store? Buying groceries!? And not even for Thanksgiving!?!?!? There may be domestic hope for me yet. What? Oh, well, um, I picked up pesto and asparagus and pasta for Ish to cook. And also wine. But come on! It's a step in the right direction.
I noticed that the creepy Kenny Chesney was on the cover of some magazine. And I couldn't help but stare at him, thinking, "Doesn't he looks like someone else?"

cheeseney2
(This is not the photo I was looking at, but you get the idea.)

"Hmmm," I thought, "those eyes...that scrunchy, pouty face...someone else..." And then I thought, "this guy is totally skeevy to me. I do NOT get what Renee ever saw in him."

And then I realized. "THAT'S who he looks like!"

Zellweger

You may disagree, but it makes a lot of sense to me. What did Renee see in Kenny?

She saw herself, apparently.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Party People!

It's a party, people!

And it's also my first official BlogHer-ian post. I'm excited.

At Home With Lunch Sounds

My cats are not a little obsessed with "treats." Sherlock will eat any kind, where Monster will only eat the crunchy kind. Monster wants treats all the time, and will do his best to try and herd you -- violently, if necessary, with jumping and sometimes biting -- to the cabinet wherein they are kept.

I will not admit publicly how well his herding techniques work, nor how many treats he receives a day as a result.

I bring this up only because I recently decided to snack on some dried fruit.

It didn't occur to me how much eating from a bag of these:
cherry

sounds like I'm eating from a bag of these:
temptations

And YOU try and explain to your cats that they aren't their treats, but are in fact special, mommy treats.

Right.

It won't work. And you will then have to transfer your Craisins to another container entirely, or else suffer the puppy-dog kitty-cat eyes* staring up at you, imploringly.

Not that I don't love every second of working out of my apartment, but at least in an office you don't have to spend any part of your day trying to figure out how to NOT let your lunch make cat sounds.



*I would have taken a photo of my cats doing this very thing. I would have also just taken my own photos of the Craisins v. Temptations, but because I am She Of The Vexed Camera Karma, my THIRD digital camera is now behaving with increasing peculiarity and has decided this week not to stay on once turned on. I do not know.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Racial Rant

It's not just that Michael Richards uses the "N" word when he goes off on a heckler, which could be bad enough. To me, it's the first statement he makes on this video.

Dear Williams-Sonoma:

THAT IS NOT FUNNY!

How dare you "last-minute shopping" me ALREADY. It is still NOVEMBER. See? Up there? Where it says NOT EVEN THANKSGIVING YET on the calendar? Bitches.

What? What's that? Oh, ho. I DO NOT CARE if your special, we're-a-cooking-y-store-so-we-have-different-rules "last-minute shopping" refers to Thanksgiving. Some of us don't need added stress right now, you hear me?

In fact, SOME of us might enjoy this time of the holiday season THE MOST because it is the ONLY time during the whole damn season that even if we haven't bought a single thing we are STILL NOT BEHIND.

Do you understand?

Save your panic-inducing emails for NEXT MONTH, please. Or else the terrorists win.

A Little Touched


Saturday, November 18, 2006

Cool Ass

I had a long talk with my sister last night. (Actually, she had a long talk with me.) And while I couldn't possibly recount all the things she said, I hung up the phone happy. Actually happy.

I wish I could explain the ways in which Healy is herself kind of...special. I am certain I can't do it justice, it's just...

Healy sees the world through a different lens than most. It may not exactly be rose-colored, but it's close enough. She has heard a different drummer her whole life.

She feels things so, so deeply.

If I could use the word "touched" to mean "blessed with something else, something most of us don't get" I would. That's what it should mean.

Ever since Healy was a little girl, people have said she lives in her own world. My mom was the exact same way. But I think that definition is too limiting. That "other" world is our world, there's just more in it somehow.

If you show Healy a straight line, she'll see it as crooked. If you show her a crooked line, she'll see it as something worth looking at.

As you might imagine, Healy had a tough time in school. She was never diagnosed with any sort of learning disability -- how do you diagnose "sees things differently"? -- but some things just seemed harder for her than for "normal" kids. She just didn't do things the normal way. (She ended up with great grades throughout school anyway.)

And now she teaches children with learning disabilities. "I just get them, Kristy," she tells me again and again. "I know where these kids are coming from. I feel like I'm just like them."

No, Healy wasn't delayed and neither was my mom, but whatever secret language they speak, those kids speak it, too.

"I actually think maybe I'm lucky to get to do this," Healy said to me on the phone last night. She speaks his language. He is special, and she knows they connect in a real, distinct, interesting and special way.

"He's different," she said, "and I love different."

It is true that Charlie is lucky. Because of the career she has chosen -- or the career that has chosen her -- Healy has access to incredible, progressive schools, disciplines, doctors, professionals, minds. The kinds of people who can help make Charlie's an amazing story.

"You know, it's kind of like if the corporate office called my center and said that they were sending a very challenging case to me, because they thought that we would be able to help the kid," Healy said. "It's just that in this case, the corporate center is God. He thought I could do this, so he sent me Charlie."

And then she added, "...or maybe Mom did."

And I didn't cry then, I smiled. Because it's true. Our mom would have loved Charlie, if possible, even more than Healy does. It's that same special language. And if you have to believe in something, why not something like that?

So sure, there's a lot more we have to learn and still plenty we won't know right away. But my fear and frustration and anger has become something more like wonderment. At Charlie, and at my sister and her husband, for being the kinds of people you want to be related to.

"Fuck it, I don't care what they say," Healy said as we were hanging up the phone. "Charlie is one cool ass kid."

And then, "HEY BRIAN!" she suddenly yelled into the background.

"ISN'T CHARLIE THE MOST COOLEST ASS KID YOU'VE EVER MET?"

I heard enthusiastic murmering in the background.

"He says yes."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Enough

My friends, my extended family, they've got to be tired of saying "I'm sorry." I'm damn well tired of hearing it. I'm tired of needing to hear it. I am tired of my world changing on a dime, just like that. I'm tired of those phone calls. Too many fucking phone calls.

So you know what? I didn't even call anyone this time. I can't. I can't call everyone again with "unfortunate" news about my family, because I can't stand to hear the hurt in their voices. Hurt, followed by a whole lot of "I have no idea what to say" because who does?

So I'll just tell you, Imaginary Internet Friends, and you can say whatever it is that gets said in a situation like this and we'll go from there. Because frankly, this is getting a little ridiculous.

Yesterday, my sister Healy called me about her son, Charlie. The first words out of her mouth were, "It just never ends."

I hoped against hope that she was just fed up with something stupid, like traffic. Like a bad day at work.

Please be about traffic. Please don't be about Charlie. Please let Charlie be okay.

You may remember that in addition to dealing with my dad's death and the subsequent nightmare that has been selling his house, Healy and her husband, Brian went through a traumatic few weeks as their dog suddenly collapsed, was paralyzed, and eventually put down because of spinal cancer? And that they were dealing with having a baby boy at the same time?

What I didn't mention about them is that Charlie -- who is as happy and bright-eyed a baby as you've ever seen -- has had some difficulties. Challenges. He hasn't been hitting the developmental milestones on time, and his doctors wanted him to be tested.

It could be a lot of things, Healy said. Or nothing.

But as the course of our lives seems to be going, it's not nothing.

Charlie was diagnosed yesterday with something called Fragile-X Syndrome.

Are you fucking kidding me?

And here is where I lose my shit, and don't know what to scream about first.

Okay, okay. In case you don't feel like looking it up, here's what we know. We know that it is a genetic disorder that is present in Charlie. We know that it results, when symptoms are evident...

...well. The truth is, I'm embarrassed to write it, and I'm embarrassed that I'm embarrassed. This is my nephew, my flesh and my blood and --
-- and how can this be???
-- and Fragile-X is a form of mental retardation. The "good" news is that it is a mild form of mental retardation, or at least it can be. There's a lot we don't know yet. My sister will go in for genetic counseling on Monday and we will learn more, so I can't answer many questions. Any questions, really. The doctor "warned" us to not go reading all sorts of incorrect information on the internet. (Yeah, right. Too late!)

What I do know is that it's possible (maybe probable) that my sister is the carrier. She will be tested. If she is, then Samantha and I will also have to be tested. And if we are also carriers...

What if...what if...what if...

Do you have any idea how many questions this raises?

Healy has a beautiful, happy baby boy. Who has a genetic defect, the likes of which most mothers pray they never have to deal with. And she loves her son with all her heart and wouldn't change anything about bringing him into the world and so how does she reconcile any of this?

How can all these mothers out there have perfectly healthy, normal kids? And then even with all our losses, how can the three of us and my dad and my mom and their moms and dads and our aunts and uncles all be mentally "normal" and --
-- and even really fucking smart, thankyouverymuch.
-- and not have any signs and then there's Charlie and I don't even know what you say. This doesn't make him not smart, right? It just makes him delayed, right?

I don't want to feel sorry for him, or for Healy or Brian. And I'm not. It's just.

It's just.

I guess it's possible that he may only have slight learning disabilities. That's more "good" news.

And also -- ironically? fortuitously? -- Healy is the director of a teaching center for children with learning disabilities. So regardless of Charlie's diagnosis or prognosis or whatever, he will have the best teachers in and out of his home for his whole life.

But god damn. I can't help but feel like this is wholly and completely unfair.

Enough already.

Just, enough.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Meet Brandon

I am not entirely sure you're all aware of this, but I am a very amusing person.

I know this because as I've started hunting through my "drafts" folder on gmail, where (as I recently mentioned) I keep rough drafts of blog entries, I have found some fascinating things.

I would detail them for you, but I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise. Es. Surprises.

But I will include here one of the drafts that just never got very far. I don't really know where I was planning on using this quiz, or why I came up with it, or when I was going to expand on it, or what I would do with it once administered, but I am certain it had something to do with my visiting MySpace.

I am absolutely terrified of MySpace, have I mentioned? I DO NOT understand it and feel like a completely out-of-touch parent because of it.

Like when I tried to explain The Internet to my mom, back in 1993.

During my Christmas break of my freshman year of college, I went out and bought a modem for my parents' home computer (because I had just discovered the wonders of the internet myself).

I soon noticed that any time I was away from the computer, my mom would sneak into the computer room and turn off the modem, because she didn't want to rack up any extra charges on the phone bill.

"But Mom," I would say. "Simply having the modem turned on is not the same as having it connected to anything. The modem works like the phone. You don't go around unplugging the phone and turning it off just because no one's talking on it."

She would nod her head and agree with me and the next time I'd go to use the computer the modem would be off and I'd have to reboot it.

So fast forward 13 years.

"But MySpace works just like Friendster," they say to me, trying to get me to understand that MySpace isn't inherently evil or hard to understand. But the truth is, I totally didn't like or get Friendster, either. So there they are, trying to tell me the modem is just like the phone and I am my mom, nodding and then returning to my safe world of IM and blogs.

Wait, what was I talking about?

Oh, right.

So here are the first three questions from a quiz I was writing for no known reason:

1. The best Christmas movie ever made was:
A) A Christmas Story
B) That clay-mation Rudolph one
C) A Diva's Christmas Carol, the made-for VH1 special starring Vanessa Williams as Ebony Scrooge
D) This is a trick question. There is no way to distinguish the best from among It's A Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, and Die Hard. Probably Die Hard, but I'm abstaining.


2. Which is the most gross?
A) finding toenail clippings that aren't yours


3. I am on MySpace to:
A) spy on people I never liked in the first place
B) appear more popular online than I am in person
C) insult every law of usability and web design EVER CREATED
D) insult every law of usability and web design ever created AND THEN ADD MUSIC

I still think this is funny, but also still have no idea why I wrote it or why I would bother coming up with more questions for it. Oh, well.

I bring all of this up, you know, because I went to MySpace this morning. A friend of mine had left me a comment, and I realized I hadn't been there in ages and so I dropped in, to do what I usually do when there. (Read: as little as possible.)

I added friends. I read comments. I checked to see how many birthdays of people I don't really know had passed. And then I read messages. One "message" from Caroline reminded me that Crazy Aunt Purl calls it "the MySpace."

And then I thought, Hey, I'm here. I should actually try and do something that qualifies as actually using MySpace. I should add Crazy Aunt Purl to my friends!

And then I wondered how.

I first went to the "Find" page and looked her up by her full name. I thought this was a pretty straight-forward thing to do. Easy, and logical.

I got back 21 hits. None of them were her. None of them were even close, actually.

(I DO NOT GET THE MYSPACE.)

But I decided to try one more approach before I left running and screaming from the site as I usually do, because I understand that the modem/phone thing and I'm only 31 and this should not be so damn bewildering, right?

So I used the "search" function, and searched for "Crazy Aunt Purl." A-ha! I thought. I bet THAT will work.

And I got one hit. One. And for a moment, I was happy.

But this guy?

Purl

Um, I'm sure this here Brandon may be many wonderful things, but a somewhat crazy, female blond knitter from the south?

He is not.

Sigh.

Tune in again next month when I try and upload video to YouTube.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

30 Years To Get This Color

I am never organized enough.

I believe that there are people in this world who were simply born organized. The kinds of people who not only own matching bras and panties, but who actually manage to wear them together, probably with an outfit that complements the bra and panty set.

Or like, okay -- here's an example of two people who were born organized: A friend of a friend decided to move in with her boyfriend. They were each moving from their sole apartments to a new place they would share. Once they found their new apartent, they then went to great lengths to figure out where everything they owned would go in it. Everything. I mean, they measured every drawer and cabinet. Every hallway and closet. They identified where every one of their respective possessions (the ones they were keeping) would go. And then...well...you know what they did? They packed and labeled the boxes according to where the contents would go.

Oh, but I don't just mean like, "living room" or "dining room." I mean, "Living room. Bookshelves to the left of window. Left side. Top shelf."

Every single thing they owned got put into a shelf- or corner-specific box. Unpacking was a cinch.

And that kind of organized? That you're just born with. There is no other earthly explanation. (I just have to assume that that kind of person is no fun in bed.)

Then there are people like me. People who are organized simply because we have decided to be. Kind of like how a gangly teenager who can't catch a ball to save his life might decide to spend hours in the gym on the treadmill and lifting weights instead. You know? He'll work out regularly, and probably grow to be considered "athletic" by most standards.

Just don't throw him a football.

So I decided a long time ago that I would do myself a favor and get organized. Be organized.

I do have a natural inclination to think of details (I also have a natural inclination to forget them, but shush, we'll get to that) others might miss, because I believe I have a natural ability to perceive what others are perceiving. Managing events is a lot about this -- thinking of how the attendee will feel, and planning the elements that will make her feel most comfortable.

However.

Because organization is not my natural state, I have to work hard at it. I have to be ever-vigilant, or else it will become readily apparent that I'm actually a gangly teenager. (By which I mean likely to live in complete dissaray, never knowing if, for example, I EVER owned a match for that sock, or that earring, and remember that time I accidentally left my cell phone in the refrigerator?)

Thus, over the years I have had to come up with disarray-proof ways of foiling myself.

Two rules have helped in particular:
1. Write everything down.
2. Write everything down in the same place.

The "in the same place" is key, lemme tell you. It does no good to have three (or four) separate notebooks going at work. Plus post-its. Plus electronic notes.

And yet, "in the same place" doesn't even matter if the notes themselves aren't coherent.

I posted about this a long time ago, when I found a VERY HELPFUL post-it on my desk. And it would seem that in the many months since that entry, I have gotten better.

Oh, I got good at writing things down and at keeping them all in the same place.
For the record, or those of you seeking tips:
  • Work to-dos go into my little work notebook. It comes with me everywhere.
  • Longer writings (like blog drafts), get saved in the "drafts" folder of my gmail account, for access anywhere with an Internet connection.
  • If I have brainstorms about potentially funny stand-up bits, I write them in my journal notebook OR on the "stickies" on my computer. (For those of you who might not know, "stickies" are post-it looking things that you just write and keep on your computer's desktop. I use them for quick ideas, usually blog posts.)

But it turns out I've only just barely gotten better about writing coherent notes, especially those to myself. As today, in opening the "stickies" to see what gems of blog fodder I'd hidden away for use later --

(Because I should note that as soon as I've gone a while not blogging, I feel pressure to write something good. Oh well.)

-- and found this awesome idea:
30 years to get this color

Oh! Oh yes! THAT. THAT brilliant post. The one about THE COLOR.

Honestly, I have zero idea of what I could have possibly meant. What color? What 30 years? Did I mean me? That it's taken me 30 years to turn a certain color? And just what color would that be? I'm the same damn color I've always been, as far as I can tell.

Was someone mixing paint? Was someone changing the color of their hallway more times than I? So that it took them 30 years to get the right color?

Hair dye?

Finding the right magic marker?

Your guess is as good as mine.

And despite my best efforts, my organizationally challenged DNA strikes again.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I'm Alive!

In addition to the craziness of starting a new job last week, a group of my friends had a getaway planned for this weekend. We left Thursday night and I have only just returned to my apartment.

I'm tired, I'm fighting a cold, I'm not especially coherent. But man, did we have a good time.

I had expected to post a few times while away, but there was no viable internet connection. Meaning I was without the internets for almost three full days, and the withdrawl practically killed me.

Wine helped.

Details and pictures to follow.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Early Election Results Coverage

should be banned.

That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

The results are inaccurate and often so premature as to be absolutely useless. Oh, it gives the countless talking heads something easy to discuss, but come on.

There is no way this premature "results reporting" doesn't effect voter turnout.

If you have worked a full day, and you are on your way to the voting booths, and you hear that the race is 73% in favor of the guy you are opposed to...why wouldn't you think, "Oh, what's the use?"

Because perhaps you don't see the little number on the top of the screen that says 0% results in.

That's right. As I write this, MSNBC is reporting preliminary results with -- statistically speaking -- ZERO PERCENT OF VOTES COUNTED.

I find this practice at best shameful and at worst?

Done and Done

Vote Here

GoVo, It's NaBloPoMo!

I thought I was hilarious when I realized that if you're at Starbucks and want to order a product that includes milk, and you want to be sure the milk does not contain the bovine growth hormone, you could order a Grande Skim Latte, NoBoGroHo.

I don't think anyone else thought this was as clever as I did.

Anyway, apparently this is national blog posting month (NaBloPoMo), which means those of us with blogs are supposed to post at least once a day. I think this is great, but it didn't exactly coincide with my recent lifestyle changes. Meaning I'm apparently five posts (or so) behind.

What else is new.

The point I suppose I'm making is, Hi! Welcome! I'm a regular blog poster again!

And I'm at work! In my livingroom! And I don't have to feel guilty for taking time to blog!

And I can vote whenever I want to!

:::PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT:::

Go vote today. Regardless of your political affiliation, I think we can all agree that having the right to vote means having the obligation, duty, and
responsibility to vote.
It matters.


Now back to what I'm sure you're all dying to know about -- the state of my "live/work" space.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

No, no, okay. Let's be serious. I know that I have maybe not been so much with the "tidy" way of living. Oh sure, I put forth a pretty impressive effort in the first few months of this year (remember my vow of No Joy in '06?). But it was not enough.

It is not enough to put things in bins. It is not enough to put things in stacks. It is not enough to reorganize, when all you're really doing is moving all your shit from one arrangement to another.

Turns out that is not so much cleaning as it is lying to yourself.

So now that I have to really live in my place, it's another story. If I am going to be in my little apartment all day long, I have to be able to move around. I have to have a place to put things.

That's really key, you know. It doesn't matter if you have a place for everything you already own, what matters is that you have a place to put things that come into your home.

For example. Last go-around, I neatly compiled and "put away" all my old magazines that I didn't want to throw out. The new issues were stacked on the lower shelf of my coffee table. It looked nice!

But I soon discovered that solved no problem at all, because there was nowhere to put any new magazines that arrived. And before I knew it, I was back to having all my storage space full, all my surfaces covered, and nowhere to put the things I'd acquire.


This time, I had no choice. It was time for an official Pitch & Bitch. That's what my mom always called it when it was time to purge. We'd all complain ("but I want to keep that!"), but when all was said and done, we never missed what we got rid of.

Anyway, now that I'm working from home and writing about it, and the lines between my home/work/blog life are completely blurred, I figure I may as well share with you what my apartment looks like. Why not?

(Well, aside from the obvious reason of my apartment just not being that interesting. But whatever. Hi.)

* * * *

Here is some idea of what my closet looked like "before."

Closet Before


And the bedroom, after my closet had thrown up:

Bedroom Before

Here is my hallway, which is actually even more full now because all the stuff I'm donating is currently lining the walls. Eventually, I might even hang the pictures that are lining the chair rail!
Hallway

More stuff to purge:

Mess


Ikea to the rescue! Pink boxes! Helpful Ish!

Ikea to the Rescue

And now?

Here is my bedroom, plain though it may be:

My Bedroom


And my new "office":

My


And my very helpful assistants:

Hiding Because He Can


And my view from my desk of my livingroom, and of the beautiful flowers Ish sent me to say congratulations on my first day of my new endeavor...

New Livingroom

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Mama Mia!

This has been a whirlwind of a week, trying to wrap up stuff at work before my last day tomorrow, and let me tell you.

You know what is not good for managing stress levels and staying focused?

Yes, that's right. Eating eight hundred thousand million "fun size" pieces of candy. (Halloween leftovers are the devil.)

I am looking forward to a normal routine again, to blogging more, to reorganizing my now live/work space, just as soon as I tie up all these loose ends.

In the meantime, please feel free to laugh at me and the rest of ABBA.

ABBA

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Oh, And?

Sorry for any confusion --

The next big BlogHer Conference will be held in Chicago in July of '07, but the BlogHer organization is based in the Bay Area.

So no, I'm not moving to Chicago. But I hear it's a very nice town. :)

Becoming A Better Blogger

Thanks, as always, for the tremendous support and well-wishes you've bestowed.

(Gosh, remember when I used to have horribly mean commenters? Guess I got boring! HA! Oh well!)

So I'm looking forward to being a better blogger. More posts, more regularly. And with feedback, too.

When I first started blogging, I thought leaving comments in the comment section (of my own blog) was kind of tacky. I tried to only make comments for purposes of clarification (uh, or defense, as necessary). But I think it's different now. Now I think it's tacky NOT to acknowledge people who've taken the time to comment, and I've done a lousy job at so doing.

Now that I will be at the same computer all day, that my work and home computer are the same thing -- and that my work will probably just be something I'm doing all the time -- I feel like I'll be here all the time, too.

Yay!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Emotional Upheaval, Plus Cake

Sometimes I think I cope by not coping at all. By just moving along as though everything is perfectly normal.

There's lots of stuff going on right now, most of it good, most of it big. Job changes, relationships changes, family changes. Events, the holidays looming around the corner.

The post below is a bit choppy and needs editing, but it's as good a place as any to start.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


La la la, yes, my last day is next Friday, but did you get my email about that project plan?

Changing jobs is emotionally daunting, even if it's a good change. I really like my current position, and I really like my current company, and I really like the people who I get to work with.

You know, last night was a huge company party and I felt proud for having put it together -- not because it took a lot of planning (it didn't, really) -- but because of the kinds of people who were there having a good time. Cool, creative people. Smart, interesting people. Executives whose decisions touch millions of people's lives (the way that happens when your dotcom has a millionteen hundred* visitors every day). Last night, I felt like a real part of the company.

The company I'm leaving.

Sigh.

Of course, I'm leaving it to go do something else amazing. Integrating my passion (blogging/writing) with my work life is almost too good to be true. So much so that I'm scared. Starting a new job is scary no matter what, you know? But here I feel like the stakes are high because I care so much. This is personal.

Yay!

Well, and also, OHMYGODDONTFUCKITUP.

So right. There's this big emotional balancing act going on. I'm scared and excited and amazed that I get to do something I really am passionate about. But that doesn't change the fact that I'm leaving something really positive and big behind.

Heh. I said "big behind."

My coworkers surprised me a couple days ago with a going-away cake. It was sweet and unexpected. Cake always makes good-byes a little easier.

Except when I saw what was written on the cake, I couldn't help but cry. I was overwhelmed.

She Just Walks Around With It
Thank You, Kristy

I have to tell you. Having my blog acknowledged in a formal** business setting was at once touching and hysterical. Yes, I love that my "hobby," my passion, is now indirectly part of my job. Yay for women who blog!

But then thinking of my blog, in particular, being recognized, in a conference room of a division of the largest company in the world? That was almost enough to make me shoot milk out of my nose.

Oh of course, blogs can definitely be powerful and important and help businesses and all that.

But mine?

I stood there looking at the cake, knowing most of my colleagues have never read my blog. I was touched, but was also doing a mental inventory of the many blog entries that would be deemed inappropriate by pretty much any business standards. You know, the ones wherein I use the word FUCK a whole lot. And of my posts about drinking to the point of throwing up (happy birthday!). Of singing the praises of boxed wine. Detailing trips to the OBGYN. And posting silly pictures of my cat while working from home (not to mention pictures of my bare and bruised behind).

No, surreal doesn't even begin to cover it.

"She just walks around with it?" my boss said, looking at the cake. "That sounds like the title of a book."

I smiled.

"You'll have to give us the URL so we can all read it," she added.

"Oh...I will..." I replied, wondering how many times I've made mention of my boobs. And then figured what the hell. Why not?

"...just as soon as I leave ."




*roughly

**Well okay, SORT OF formal, what with it being cake and all

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Actual Announcement

So here it is, Monday afternoon, and I am very pleased to be able to share my “official” news with you. Finally! Yay!

Okay.

I have, as you know, been quite happy with my current job – the job I started in July of 2005. For the last year-plus, I have been the Internal Communications Manager for a large (600+ person) dotcom here in the Bay Area. I have enjoyed much (most) about the position...

...except for one thing. I’m not exactly passionate about it. I mean, I enjoy crafting communications (hi) and I have always loved managing meetings and events – even in my social life.


Sidebar:

My wedding was a pretty fan-f’ing-tastic event. I relished every minute of planning it, and it was so lovely and fun and warm and enjoyable. I hadn’t realized until then the extent to which I love planning events, especially social.

I bring this up because I got married seven years ago today.

A Road
Two years later, I arrived in San Francisco. Happy San-niversary to me!]

But back to my current job.

I do enjoy many aspects of what I do, but you know how it is. Frankly, I’d rather be blogging. (Duh.)

And now, well.

I am pleased to announce that I am leaving my current position, my current company*, and going to work for BlogHer.org.

I can hardly believe it.

But, yes. Starting November 6, I will be part of the incredibly talented BlogHer team, helping to, among other things, manage the BlogHer Events.

Now you’ll HAVE to come to Chicago!




*Which I'll divulge once I've gone. Ahem.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Most Nothing To Wear I've Ever Had

aka, Part One of Things Going on in My Life

I apologize for the pseudo-cliffhanger I posted last. I didn't mean to ruffle feathers or leave you dangling or anything. I am afraid my news hardly warrants THAT much excitement...

Essentially, my job will be changing a bit. (And by "a bit" I mean "a whole lot.") It's official, but won't be officially "announced" until Monday, and so I can't divulge more until then.

Now, I am sure you're thinking, Uh, K, we don't care about your job. I thought you were going to post about something interesting.

And I know. I'm sorry. But I will do my best to make it at least a little interesting and even maybe kinda juicy. Just bear with me until Monday.

In the meantime, I have to tell you about last week's vacation kick-off...

* * * *

Last Wednesday, I had dinner plans with a certain well known blogger. The kind of blogger who is practically a celebrity (if not actually one, I don't know where the distinction is) and the kind of woman who is chic and stylish.

The kind of woman who doesn't, as a rule, shop at Old Navy.

The kind of woman who has a purse nice enough that it warrants its own blog post.

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen of She Walks*, I actually got to have dinner with Stephanie Klein.

(Life is crazy.)

Okay. So I know I have spoken of her before through a green-hued mask of jealousy. But even then, I think we all know it's not exactly HER that I'm jealous of, or even that "jealous" is the right word. It's that she is a blogger and a writer and my age and has a gorgeous site and style and life. It's that her writing (and her life) warranted a following, which in turn warranted publicity, publishers, proposals, and eventually the book-plus deal she landed. And it's that I want that, too.

And while it's easy and childish to be envious, the fact that she has found success really has no bearing on whether I do. Or could. Or will. (And it turns out that grousing about someone else's life instead of actually doing something about your own is not maybe so productive. Ahem.)

Anyway, so when I mentioned that I was working on a book proposal, the illustrious SK offered to talk to me about it, for no reason other than just to be nice.

Just to be nice.

I was blown away, you know?

And you damn well better believe I took her up on it, because, well, for two reasons.

First, I am grateful to get any advice from someone who knows. Of course I am. And even though I really am not ready to try and get something published, talking to her made me feel like it is, someday, possible.

But second, I just wanted to meet her! I mean, maybe to some people she's "just a blogger" or maybe she's "just an author" but to me, that's huge. In my blogtastic world, she's a megastar, and she's accomplished so much...

* * * * *

Dinner with Stephanie was pretty cool, except um, also horribly awkward. Because I am lame.

It was kind of like an Internet date, except worse because I have no idea how to be nervous around women. With men, it's different. With men, either there's chemistry or there isn't. Either it's going to work, or it's not.

With women, well. You're not trying to date...you're just meeting to meet, to get to know each other. So it should be comfortable. Add to that the fact that I know sooooo much about her (through her book and blog), and I feel like we should just ease into conversation and be fast friends.

Right?

No.

No, because -- ohthatsright -- just because I know so much about her does not mean she knows anything about me. I mean, of course she knows some, but I can't expect her to blog stalk the way I do, and so I ended up spending the entire meal arguing with myself in my head to SHUTUPSHUTUP so that I'd stop sounding like a star-struck fan and sound more like, I dunno, a normal human being.

In the end, I think I came across as fairly...

...weird.

I mean, I would start asking her a gazillion questions, and then stop because I didn't want to sound like I was interviewing her. So then I would try and just be me and funny, but mostly my version of funny is very, very dry sarcasm that (let's face it) gets lost when the listener is in no way expecting it. So to make up for the questions and the not-so-funny, I would try and be "normal" by talking about something, anything, and go on and on and on and not be able to stop despite watching her eyes glaze over. (Why are you still talking, I'd hear the sane side of my brain ask the crazy chatty side as I droned on about paint drying and grass growing and bellybutton lint.) So then I'd just abruptly stop talking.

Sigh. "Weird" is perhaps being generous.

Now, in addition to my verbal/social interaction lame-i-tude, we add the fact that I realized, the day before we were to meet, that I had nothing to wear. No, no. Not just sort of nothing to wear. The most nothing to wear I've ever had.

Because here was Stephanie, whose taste and clothes and aesthetic we all know, who's used to the glitz and glam of the fanciest, schmantziest bars and restaurants and clothiers and and and.

And of course I am me and whatever. I know my limitations, and make fun of them all the time. I have grown to be fairly comfortable in my own skin. I know that there is more to life than labels. You know that, too. But sometimes? Sometimes blah blah blah. Sometimes I want nothing more than to look elegant and be graceful and attire myself in something uber-chic. I don't always want to feel like a bull in a china shop, or a messy, dowdy slob who can't get it together.

Which is how I couldn't help but feel. Self-conscious, and annoyed at myself for feeling so.

But what are you going to do?

Dinner itself was lovely. We ate at The Grand Cafe (in the bar) and I had a Manhattan and she a fancy club soda. She looked beautiful and striking and just like her photos. And despite what she says, she does look like one of those pregnant women you hate, who are glowy and beautiful and who don't look pregnant except for their adorable belly bump you almost didn't notice.

So I learned a little of her process and life and of other writers she knows and felt in awe.

Maybe someday.

For now, though, I will simply be impressed by Stephanie, and continue to think of her as a certain kind of pioneer.

And I will look around at my life and wardrobe and writing and relationships and all of my me that is still very much in progress, and work on accepting the fact that I have a lot of work to do.

It's worth it.

DSC00621.JPG

Stephanie Klein @ the Grand Cafe with me (behind the camera**)






*and She Trips and Spills and Wears Green Sneakers because she Falls in Heels and also Shops at Old Navy.

**for now. :)