Friday, December 18, 2009

Do You Hear What I Hear?

There was a shuffling of meetings earlier in the week and technically I still had some vacation time left so I did the minimal amount of work things I needed to do yesterday from home and then spent the rest of the day cleaning my house.

Really cleaning my house.

Since my home renovation there's been a constant layer of dust on everything and boxes of knickknacks and furniture stacked in corners so even when I do have time to clean, it's only been the bare minimum. And by that I mean just enough so that I don't go insane and so that my closest of friends and relatives can come over without me being completely humiliated.

But yesterday I vacuumed under AND behind furniture. I emptied ALL of the trash cans and recycling bins. I dusted everywhere - not just as high as I can see.

A couple of friends were coming over for dinner and were to arrive at 6:30.

At 6:20 my whole house was clean. Pictures hung, baseboards dusted, furniture de-furred and Febreezed. Lasagna in the oven. Dogs brushed and paws cleaned. Tree lights on. Ella Fitzgerald Christmas CD playing. I had even gone through all of my flatware and pulled out enough forks, knives and spoons for everyone that matched (matched, I tell you!) AND didn't have spots on them from the dishwasher.

At 6:25 I stopped to admire how, for the first time in a long time, my house seemed like a home instead of a shanty inhabited by a hobo.

At 6:26 I decided I would go ahead and make a little cocktail to enjoy while I waited on my guests and bask in this glorious moment of being a capable, competent grown-up.

At 6:27 there was a loud crash as three, five-foot-wide shelves in the mud room collapsed in an avalanche of paint cans and tools and dog treats and light bulbs and extension cords and citronella candles and garden clogs and rain boots and beach towels, gouging several holes in the wall and ripping off part of the molding around the door with them as they fell.

At 6:28 several words were uttered that were not in the holiday spirit.

At 6:29 I made sure that neither dog was trapped under the avalanche and was thankful they weren't in the mud room when it happened.

At 6:30 The dogs I was one minute ago thankful weren't harmed, were threatened as one of them dove head first into the pile of crap to dig out a bag of Greenies and the other started to drag a power drill out through the dog door.

At 6:31 my guests arrived. A dear and wonderful gay couple, who came through the door full of Christmas cheer and with festive food and gifts. They saw my predicament and declared: "If we were more butch we'd help you put all of that back up. Let's make martinis instead!"

At 6:51 my glass was refilled for the second of what would be several times that evening and I no longer cared how clean my house was, the disaster in the mud room, that one of the dogs helped herself to some of the appetizers or that the other tried to stick his nose in someones drink, or hell, even if my flatware matched.

That lasagna was damn good though.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Adventures in Hall Decking

There's no list / Week in Review for last week. I worked. I did laundry. My Christmas shopping is mostly done. The house is somewhat decorated. It was Pink Candle Sunday on the Advent wreath this past Sunday. I don't really know the significance of Pink Candle Sunday, but that's the Sunday I like to decorate.

I had all kinds of big plans for crafty Christmasy window boxes and lights on my porch. Didn't happen. I also had plans for a real tree this year. Also didn't happen. There's a new dresser in my bedroom so my old dresser has no home right now and instead is in the place in the living room where I was going to put the tree. So I'm using the dresser like its a mantle. My advent candles are on the top and the dogs' two stockings are hanging from the top set of drawer knobs.

Last year my house was in a shambles and I thought "Next year I'm going to have a nice house for Christmas." This year I have the good fortune of having new furniture from my grandmother. The problem is that with 900 square feet, every piece of furniture has a place and if something new comes in, then something has to go out. So, there's a holding pattern of sorts going on - an end table and a corner hutch are hanging out in the dining nook in the kitchen and a dresser is loitering in the middle of the living room. Eh, maybe next year I'll have this all figured out...

So for Pink Candle Sunday I did put up my tiny fake tree and it looks kind of cute. And I do have a wreath on my front door. After lunch on Saturday I went to visit the real trees at our local neighborhood garden shop and picked up a wreath there. It's almost too big for my door, but I like it and it smells yummy.

Anyway... I'm realizing how boring this post is so I'm just going to move along to the picture portion of the program:

Giant new yummy-smelling wreath.
(Non Christmasy window box to the left.)


Santa's Helpers "helping" in the best possible way.
Apparently all of the excitement of their stockings
being hung on the dresser with care was exhausting.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Week in Review - Cheers

1. Isn't it "The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend"?? Oh Hell, Who Cares - Roll Tide...
Well, the Alabama Crimson Tide did indeed roll over the Gators. Thank goodness. Nothing worse than making yourself cheer for a team you don't like just to have them lose. Now they're playing for the National Championship and I will dutifully suck it up again on January 7th. Go SEC! I watched the game from my local dive bar (it has no windows or decent chairs, but several thousand dollars worth of flat screen televisions and my favorite local brew on tap). The crowd in the bar was all into the game and was decidedly for Alabama. Nashville is no longer made up solely of people who were born and raised in the state (we're very cosmopolitan now, y'all) so while a good bit of the patrons were likely orange-bleeders like myself, it's safe to assume there were fans of a good many different schools there as well. All united against a common enemy. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

2. Perhaps I Need to Find a Meeting - or - Become a Local Business Investor
Speaking of said dive bar... I spent more hours in that one on Saturday than I should be admitting to the entire interwebiverse. Several friends very kindly helped my brother and me move the furniture we received from my grandmother to each of our homes. Afterward we treated them to fried things, beer and football at the bar. Some people could only stay for a little while and then left, then other friends showed up, then my mother and step-father dropped by, other friends left, and then more friends showed up. So yeah... basically I arrived there around 3:00 and left around 8:30. Thanks to Melissa for sticking it out with me the entire time - what a trooper!

3. Oh Yeah, That's Right - it's Advent...
Somehow I don't think the Baby Jesus had any idea he'd have to compete with football in the middle of the preparations for celebrating his birth every year. But, then again, since we can all probably admit that he wasn't actually born in December and the crazy Christians just co-opted Winter Solstice from the Pagans, maybe he would actually be down with watching a little gridiron action. Or, at least not be too terribly offended that while I turned down the lights, lit my two purple candles and quietly contemplated the season of Advent and the end of another year, I also did so while watching the Cowboys / Giants game. (It was on mute.)

4. One More Step Toward Being a Grown-up
One of the items passed down to me from Granny was a bed. A real, Big Girl Bed with a headboard AND a foot board, so that I can finally rid myself of the cheap wobbly metal frame that was left in an apartment I once rented and meant that the mattress set my dad had given me when he got a new set for his guest room (which meant I no longer had to sleep on a futon) would not have to sit directly on the floor anymore. Woo hoo. Yes, I am almost 40. Some other time we can discuss why I shouldn't be in any rush to get a flat screen television since my current model is the first one I've ever owned that didn't have dials...

5. Someone, Please, Just Club Me in the Head
I finished my year-long, torturous, tear-inducing, home renovation project like, what, five minutes ago? So, yesterday evening as I was arranging newly-acquired furniture and contemplating how I could spend the two weeks of vacation that start one week from today (yippee!) I actually thought - ACTUALLY THOUGHT - "maybe I'll sand and refinish the hardwood floors in my kitchen and take up the crappy tile in the mud room." Seriously. It may turn out to be a blessing that I have a tendency to spend too much of my available free time (and cash and brain cells) in a bar.

Seasons Greetings!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thank God I Don't Have to Say this Very Often

The SEC Championship is tomorrow afternoon on CBS - a match-up between Florida and Alabama. Should be a great game, especially since whoever wins will play for the national championship. I've already babbled on and on about my feelings for these two teams so I won't add anything else. I will only say... as much as it pains me...


And since there's no Hail Mary Haiku contest to enter, I thought I'd try my hand at it for this less-than-auspicious occassion:

Roll Tide? Ugh. Now feel
faint; must lie down with orange
compress on my head.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

R. I. P.


I had to have my black cashmere hoodie put down over the weekend. I am still a bit sad about it. It had a long, good life (5 years), was well loved and will be missed.

As is the case with most beloved sweaters and shoes, you swear you aren't going to go out right away and get a new one... But then I found myself at Macy's a few days ago - just checking to see if the jeans I've been wanting - that are just the right color, fit so nicely and are the perfect length, but are $80 - have somehow been marked down to, say, $40. No such luck.

But there, just across the aisle from the Michael Kors section was Calvin Klein. Now, I have no reason to look for jeans in the Calvin Klein section because, as beautiful as Mr. Klein's things are, he refuses to acknowledge that women have hips. But I digress... As I woefully turned away from my not-marked-down jeans, something did catch my eye.

It was adorable. And snugly. And so needed a home.

First let me say, I've been admiring all of the super-long, chunky, cable-knit hoodies and cardigans that are so popular this season, however, being short and chunky means they don't look good on me. But there it was. A cotton, not-so-chunky, hip-length, cable-knit grey cardigan with a hood and a drawstring tie - not a big, bulky bathrobe tie that my dogs would assume was a pull toy. It was so soft, it almost felt like cashmere. And, unlike my jeans, had been marked down. Quite a bit, actually.

So, here's my new addition:

And, to honor my dearly departed black cashmere hoodie, I'm wearing the new sweater today with my beloved stripey cashmere scarf (that sort of looks like this) I got it forever ago when I still liked J Crew's clothes...

And, while we're at it...

Either from Target or Old Navy. I'm too messy to invest good money in white t-shirts. I expect this one to have mustard and/or coffee on it by the end of the day.

Trusty trouser jeans. I stalked these last year at Macy's until they were marked way down. (BTW -Tommy Hilfiger also acknowledges that women have hips - are you listening, Mr. Klein?)

Kenneth Cole Mary Janes - also on super mark-down, but from DSW. Except my straps don't buckle. They're Velcro. Because I'm eight and will have mustard on my shirt by the end of the day.

Grey herringbone trouser socks. I love fall/winter when you can wear fancy socks. I have these in tights too.

And it's raining - so I have my burberry plaid umbrella with me. (While shopping in Vegas the boys I was with patiently watched as I drooled over a pair of rain boots in the Burberry store at the Venetian. They were so pretty. But didn't even have a price tag on them, so somehow I don't think they'll ever be on super mark-down clearance...)

Anyway... farewell dear, black cashmere hoodie. I loved you so. May someone at Goodwill love you just as much.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Week in Review - Giving Thanks

I was indeed thankful last week. Here's what for:

1. Travel and Quiet Weeks at Work
When I get back from a trip I'm not one to say "I'm never getting on plane / staying in a hotel ever again!" No, I immediately start rooting about on the interwebs trying to figure out the next place I can go and how long before I can afford to go there. One of my friends and I spent some time on the flight back from Vegas perusing the Southwest Airlines cocktail napkin that had a map of all of their airports printed on it (we were bored and did not want to watch Twilight again on the other friend's iPhone). This same friend and I have also talked about going to Peru so when I got to work on Monday - with only a three day week and not much to do, here's what I discovered:
  • Peru? I could spend a pretty cool week in Peru for about $1,500. Not too shabby.
  • Italy? I'd go there once a year if I could afford to. Cheapest city to fly into right now - Rome. But even that was $900+. Ouch.
  • Good ole US of A? I priced flying to Chicago and taking a train from there to Spokane or Seattle and stopping mid-way-ish at Glacier National Park for a couple of days. Six words: More. Than. A. Week. In. Peru. Granted, if I wanted to sleep sitting in a chair on the train instead of reserving a sleeper car, then it would have been cheaper. Something has to be done about the convenience and affordability of train travel in this country, people! Anyway - another rant for another post...
  • Cheaper alternative? Fly to Denver, rent a car and drive to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Parks. Could probably do two weeks for the same - or less! - than the train trip.

2. My Grandmother

She recently moved to an assisted living facility here in Nashville and has been less than pleased. She also has a way with words. Many of them are not quotable here in blogland. We ate lunch with her at her new home this week and here was my favorite quote: "Roger [my dad/her son] took away my car. Said I wasn't allowed to drive anymore. I drive okay. Just have to keep one eye closed." Good times.

3. Non-Traditional Thanksgivings
I have a love-hate relationship with traditions. Generally speaking, I love them, but over the years many of the traditions I've grown to dislike revolve around certain "family" holidays. Where you're supposed to sit around the table with various relations and pretend that you're not all bat-shit crazy simply for the sake of tradition. I'm over it. And I think if Norman Rockwell were alive today, he'd be over it too. In fact, I think his next cover of the Saturday Evening Post could very easily have been of my Thanksgiving dinner this year. The meal: a beautiful array of all the traditional Thanksgiving dishes. Seated around the dining room table: six people - none of whom were related except those that were married to each other. Most of us had already participated in our "traditional" Thanksgiving meals earlier in the day or week that ranged from mildly annoying to really sucky. This one, however, was filled with good conversation, laughter, friendship and good ole fashioned merriment. No passive-aggressive behavior, snide remarks or years of pent-up hostility. Not to be all smug, but I think this is more of what Thanksgiving was intended to be. The lemon martini thingies we had didn't hurt either.

4. A Good Season
I know I go on and on about my beloved Boys in Orange, but I do need to give thanks for them. They've had a hard few years and this season was no exception - a new coaching staff, problems on the field, problems off the field, problems with other coaches. The list goes on. We end our regular season 7-5. On paper that's not the greatest, but I couldn't be more thrilled. They tried hard, they played smart, they learned from their mistakes and they never gave up. They could be 5-7 and I would still be as happy. This past Saturday in their win over Kentucky they did give me a flash-back to two years ago (speaking of Granny), but we all survived. So, for that game and every other game this year, I thank you. Hope you get to go to Tampa for your bowl game. But, if you should end up playing here in Nashville, I will be there with bells on. Orange bells at that.

5. Digital Cameras and Our Beautiful Country
I remember the days of non-digital cameras when I was (briefly) a photography minor and a photographer for our school paper. And I remember the anguish of ruining roll after roll of film while trying to process them in a dark room. And I remember the disappointment in crappy photo after crappy photo on those rolls that I didn't ruin. But no more! Go ahead - take a hundred pictures! Delete the ones that suck! Take more! Upload them to Flickr! Life is good!

So behold - vacation picture highlights! I did not include pictures of Las Vegas - only of Red Rock Canyon. I didn't actually take that many pictures of Las Vegas for some reason (no, I was not drunk) and the ones I did take are mostly of people's faces. And I have a pact with those people. It isn't "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," but rather, "My picture shows up on your damn Facebook page - your picture goes on my blog." So, unless someone violates that pact, I give you only pictures of beautiful rocks and desert plants.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Old Joke

I know I'm getting older. It's not a secret. I still look fairly young for my age and for that I am thankful. And apparently that's all I should be thankful for since I've recently learned I'm old enough that no longer will anyone contradict me when I joke about my age.

Conversation One - Las Vegas Casino

Friend (who was constantly on the lookout for / trying to pimp me out to cute boys he spotted): "Look! Sailors! That little blond one is cute - you should go talk to him."

Me: "He is cute, but I think I'm old enough to be his mother."

--- Crickets ---

Me (pretending to be Friend): "Oh no, Gert - NO WAY! You're not that old!"

Friend: "Oh. Sorry. Was I supposed to have said something?"

Conversation Two - My Mother and Stepfather's House

Mother (while we were watching an interview show with various new UT football coaches - most of whom are ridiculously young): "That's the Quarterback Coach!? What is he - 12?!"

Stepfather: "I think so. And what's Lane Kiffin [new head coach] - 34?"

Me: "Yeah. I think I'm older than everyone on the coaching staff except Monte Kiffin!" [Lane Kiffin's dad, who's like 70]

--- Crickets ---

Me (pretending to be parents): "Oh no, Gert - NO WAY! You're not that old!"

Stepfather: "Oh. Sorry. Was I supposed to have said something?"

Monday, November 23, 2009

Week in Review - Learning Las Vegas

So, on those lists everyone makes of places they'd like to go, you know, "Before I Die," "If I had all the Money in the World," "Just to Say I've Been," "Because George Clooney has a House There," etc., Las Vegas has been on... well... lets just say it's never been on any lists of any places I'd like to go under any circumstances. But I have friends who love to go there and they twisted my arm. Actually, they didn't really twist my arm so much as I'm a sucker for peer pressure...

But you know what? It was so much fun!

I even learned some things. And who goes to Vegas to learn stuff?? Anyway... I wasn't there for a whole week, but nothing else happened the other three days, so here's my Top Five - Vegas Edition:

1. Clowns: Still Creepy
I saw a Cirque du Soleil show - which I also wasn't sure I would enjoy, but did. My fear was that there would be clowns and mimes. And I DO NOT enjoy clowns or mimes. There was a bit of that, and it was indeed dreadful, but I got over it. The rest of the show was too amazing to be put off by them for too long. If you happen to be in Las Vegas and can go and see "O" (the one with the water), it is worth every penny.

2. Adding is not My Thing
I learned to play Black Jack. Well, I sort of learned and then sat between two friends who know how to play and would knee me under the table whenever I did something wrong. We played for a few hours at one table and the same two dealers kept switching back and forth every 20 or 30 minutes. One would add up your cards for you as he dealt and one wouldn't. I'll let you guess as to which dealer I tipped more. At one point I was up $100. And then lost it. But I broke even with my gambling money overall for the weekend, so I considered that a win.

3. I Can Still Find a Way to Be a Geek, Even in Vegas
One morning we were lounging around the hotel room and one of my friends was flipping through one of those visitor bureau magazines they have free in the hotel and said, "here's five dollars off admission to Bodies the Exhibition - what's that?" I jumped up from my knitting (yes, I did bring my knitting to Las Vegas), startling the others with my excitement. I've been wanting to see this exhibit so badly and the closest it's coming to Nashville is Cincinnati and Atlanta. And do you have any idea how hard it is to get someone to take a road trip with you when you start the conversation, "Hey! Wanna drive four hours to go see an exhibit of perfectly preserved cadavers?!" Needless to say, no one else in the room really wanted to see it either - even though it was only in the hotel across the street - so that afternoon I went by myself. And it was fantastic. Again, worth every penny. If for no other reason than you can regale your travelling companions over dinner with phrases like "do you know how big our liver is?" Or, "and then there was a case with just someones skin..."

4. Vegas May Have Been More Fun Than I Thought, but Some of It Was Just as Icky as I Imagined
I have this theory that you could ban all signage and advertising for strip clubs, peep shows and whore houses and financially they would do just fine because, really, if someone wants to partake in that kind of thing, they're going to find your establishment even if you don't have a giant hot pink and purple tacky neon arrow sign pointing them in the right direction. And they will certainly find their way without you lining the sidewalks of Las Vegas with people shaking fliers and coupons at them as they walk by. Turns out these people lining the sidewalks are not allowed to touch you, so they do this weird flicking thing with their fliers as they shove them in front of your face. They may not have been allowed to touch me, but there was more than one occasion where I wanted my elbow to make contact with a few of their noses.

5. It is the Land of Extremes
Everything there is bigger, longer, faster, taller, flashier and crazier. You don't just get a margarita. You get a guava mango margarita. In a three-foot tall glass. That you can drink while you're waiting in line for a thrill ride. But not just any thrill ride. One at the top of a 110-story building. And then you can continue drinking your margarita while walking down the street or shopping in the mini-market on the way back to your hotel room which you can only get to by going around the 20-foot gold-leafed lion statue, through the giant casino and past eight different restaurants and bars - from Wolfgang Puck's to McDonald's to something blaring club music where the waitresses dance on the bar every so often in leather miniskirts. Literally, the walk from my room to the Bodies exhibit in the hotel across the street took a solid thirty minutes. Madness.

Even nature is extreme there. We went hiking one day in Red Rock Canyon and it was amazing. Plants growing in a little crack in a rock. Mountains just jutting straight up out of the earth - no rolling foothills like I'm used to. In the sun it was hot and you were sweating and spraying yourself down with sunscreen, but step two feet into the shade and you were shivering and had to put a jacket on. Also, the desert is extremely dry. Did you know that? My now really chapped lips (and nose and ears and sinuses) were a bit in denial, apparently.

Anyway... All-in-all I give Las Vegas two very tired and chapped and poor (but happy!) thumbs-up.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Dear Mr. Manning,

Thank you for salvaging what had been a disappointing weekend of football.

(Yes, I know the Titans won, but it didn't make up for the beating that Tennessee's original football team received from Ole Miss on Saturday.)

It is true that you are not the prettiest quarterback in history. But I think you're lovely just the same.

On behalf of my fellow orange-blooded Volunteers, congratulations.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Week in Review - FOR MELISSA

Jeez - you make one declaration that you're going to make weekly posts and then some people start to expect it...

1. An Explanation

Some of you have wondered about my disdain for Elmo. Well, his high-pitched baby-talk is annoying and the fact that they now devote a third of the show to him is even more so. (Yes, if I am home sick I enjoy watching Sesame Street. Or used to...) Besides, what the hell was ever wrong with Grover, people!? Well, earlier this week NPR explained it all. To compete with the onslaught of annoyingly-voiced kids show stars around that time, Sesame Street had to come up with something to go up against the likes of Barney. And that's what they created. And I realized in that moment that is precisely why I dislike him. He's a tiny, furry, red Barney.

2. Grass is Always Greener

It was inevitable, really. Prior to the Great Gutting of Gert's Living Room 2008-09 I had a small, unpaid, part-time job reading design, decorating and architecture magazines and websites. I also constantly suffered from house envy. But once the GGGLR began (Hmmm, pronounce that acronym and it sounds like someone drowning. Coincidence?) I really had no desire to read how easy it is to hang crown molding or recover an antique chair with vintage curtains you find at the flea market.

Well, now that GGGLR is mostly complete, I have dipped my toe back into the glossy pages and interwebs and damn if my house envy isn't back. One of my favorite websites for this is Apartment Therapy. Why "Apartment" Therapy I do not know, because it's mostly small houses. Small, real houses where real people live. And this week there it was - my newest victim of house envy. A restored bungalow with the perfect mixture of craftsman, mid-century and art deco furniture. Comfy rooms in earthy colors where nothing is overly matched but it all just sort of goes together. My favorite was the busy, hodge-podge kitchen that looks like people actually cook in it. And that pot rack? Fantastic. If Marie had only seen this, she could have found a use for Jess's coffee table and let him keep it.*

3. Groundhog Day? Please?

Most of this week was just irritating as all hell. Nothing horribly bad. Just annoying. Tuesday especially. Because the only thing better than over-sleeping and running out the door dressed like an eight year old boy, is doing so with wet hair AND meeting your neighbor's new - and cute - housemate who is friendly and wants to chat while you're running late and look like a drowned rat / eight year old boy.

Then there was much website drama at work that afternoon. Which I handled oh-so maturely by sending my boss an email at 4:59 explaining said drama and then promptly turned off my computer and ran from the building like a big fat chicken...

Where I then got into my car and drove to my father's house so we could divide up all of the furniture and such that my grandmother didn't want to take to her new apartment. And of course that all devolved into drama - as these things often do when people transfer years of feelings and emotions onto inanimate objects instead of dealing with them like mature adults.

So yeah. A do-over for Tuesday would have been nice.

4. A New Low

So here I am on a Friday night babysitting and I just finished reading the new Vanity Fair with Robert Pattinson on the cover. I am officially 12. But, can I just say... yum! I have some friends, who will remain nameless (because they are big perverts!) who think that Taylor Lautner - the other male lead in the Twilight movies - is rather nice (and 17!). Well, they can have their buff, tan, shirtless (and underage!) wolf-boy. I will take a pale, scruffy-faced, messy-haired, vampire-man in a cable-knit sweater and wool pea coat over that any damn day. We're drawing names for Christmas gifts in my family this weekend and to the person who gets my name - I will gladly take enlarged prints of any of these so I can like totally frame them and like hang them in my locker...

5. Tumbling Down

So Monday was the 20th anniversary of the demise of the Berlin Wall. One of my very dearest friends grew up in what was once East Germany so it gave me a tangible reason to think about this event off and on throughout the week. Way more than I probably would have otherwise. And it made me realize how different our lives might be now if it hadn't happened. And how world-changing events don't just affect the big picture, they affect things and people on a much smaller scale for years and years after. And how all of us - no matter where or how we grew up - really aren't all that different when you get down to it. So Claudia, if the Wall coming down means, if nothing else, that I now get to enjoy a cup of coffee and/or a glass of wine with you every few days, then for that I am thankful. Happy Anniversary.

* If someone (other than Katie!) knows what I'm referring to, then you get a gold star in your pop culture crown.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Loneliest Number

Imagine my surprise when I turned on my computer this morning to discover that today is Lost Sock Memorial Day.

Totally makes me feel better about the fact that I have on two different brown trouser socks today.

Originally I blamed it on it being Monday and me being lazy and a poor housekeeper.

Turns out I'm just doing my part to celebrate one of our lesser-known holidays.

My guess is that the majority of my lost socks are probably the result of being herded into and then buried in the back yard by the Evil Genius.

Perhaps that is what has happened to all lost socks.

If so, I plan to market her as the "Great Pumpkin" of Lost Sock Memorial Day and use the money to pay for a dog psychologist.

And of course, more socks.

Happy Monday!

Credit to The Pigeon Club of NYC for the image. Don't know what the heck lost socks have to do with Pigeon appreciation, but it is a cute picture. Unless... maybe there are sock-stealing pigeons in New York? Elsie may have competition...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Week in Review - Harvest Moons and Other Things

The work never ends, no? I think I've given up on anything more than a weekly post. If that. Perhaps one day I'll be more organized. Until then...

1. From 60 Minutes to Morning Edition

My conference last week went really well but was exhausting. I got home on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday afternoon I fell asleep on the couch and woke up 12 hours later. Feeling much better now.

2. A Study in Contrast

The bad thing about fall and the time change is that it's dark when I come home from work. However, to lessen the blow, the moon has been gracious and kind and absolutely stunning every night on my drive home. Earlier in the week Green Girl in Wisconsin posted a gorgeous picture of the moon from her back yard. The views from my neighborhood haven't been quite this picturesque, but I like them nonetheless. So I give you - "Moon Over East Nashville Liquor Store through a Dirty Windshield":

The moon is the blurry orangish blob in the middle of the picture. But that liquor store has a shelf in the back where you can choose any three bottles of wine for $20.

3. Stitch and Bitch

I'm learning how to knit. So far the results are less than spectacular, but I've only done it once. I don't have a whole lot of time to spend knitting but then I realized that in a couple of weeks I am taking a short trip to Las Vegas and was all excited that I could take my knitting with me on the plane. Then I thought, "knitting on the way to Las Vegas? I mean, why don't I also get a giant plastic sunvisor, a bedazzled Wayne Newton t-shirt, some knee-highs to wear with my black sandals, and an enormous white pleather purse to carry all my tokens for the slots in..."

It would be the next nail in my Tragic Spinster coffin that I'm not quiiiite ready for yet. But I'll probably still do it anyway...

4. Road Trip!

Two friends of mine and I are headed to Knoxville this weekend to watch the Tennessee / Memphis game. Neither of them have ever been to a Tennessee game, so it should be a good time. Especially if we play like we did last week. Oh yeah, that's right - have I not mentioned the spectacular beat-down we gave to Steve Spurrier and his South Carolina Gamecocks last week? I will only repeat: spec-frickin-tacular.

5. Happy Birthday Sesame Street!

I have loved you my entire life. Except Elmo. May you have another wonderful 40 years!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Miscellaneous Nonsense

1. Overheard at a Conference:
My boss injured herself yesterday while we are out of town at a conference. It's not severe by any means. Granted, not enough to keep her completely out of commission and out of my hair but not so little that she is able to take care of herself. One of our conversations today went something like this [with commentary added]:

Her: I found out where there's a Walgreens. Its only on the other side of town. Can you go there [even though I've already rattled off a list as long as my arm for other things for you to do that don't involve extracting your car from the bowels of the hotel parking garage and driving around a city you don't live in] and get me some crutches?

Me: Sure.

Her: I wish I had an ice pack too. But without any ice.

Me: Well, actually they make those.

Her: I know. But they don't work. And they're only hot.

Me: I've used some that work well. Some are hot. But they make some that are also cold.

Her: I don't think they'll work.

Me: Do you still want me to get you some?

Her: I guess.

------------------------------ four hours later -----------------------------

Her: Are you busy? [Like other than the 12 hours you just worked]

Me: I have to run out to pick up more name tags. Do you need something?

Her: Well, those cold packs were fabulous. Can you get me some more. [Oh yeah - and by the way you were totally right.]

2. The Patrick Dempsey Effect
I am now thankfully sitting in my pajamas, slowly digesting the room service dinner I just snarfed down and watching a marathon of Bones on TNT. And the most pressing question of the day... Has David Borneas always been this cute? 'Cause I remember him from Buffy and Angel commercials and my reaction was always, "meh." But now on Bones? Damn adorable.

3. Car Lag
I have trouble adjusting to other time zones. It's just one hour this time and its soundly kicking my ass. You should have seen me the time I flew to London. I almost fell asleep on the tube and have no real recollection of the first day and a half there other than what is in the pictures I took. Just a couple more days and then I will be back on good ole Central Standard Time. Oh but wait - then daylight savings time starts. Gah!

4. Many Happy Returns of the Day
Today is Katie's Birthday! Hooray!

5. Good Night
Flannel snowflake jammies, hotel cable, and a bed I don't have to make in the morning or kick two dogs off of means I am going to stop typing now and enjoy it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week in Review: Looking for the Good News

1. The thing making the rattly noise under my car finally fell off. Not sure if that's good news or not. Probably not.

2. My grandmother moved to town this weekend and into a retirement facility. That is a good news. She grew up here, but had lived in the same town in East Tennessee since 1945 and in the same apartment in that town since 1976. So yeah, the rest of that story is not so good news. Eventually it will all be fine, but right now its sorta sucky.

3. On Saturday we literally came within seconds and inches of upsetting the number one team and our greatest rival. The good news is that it was a great game and we dominated Alabama in almost everything. One area we could apparently use some help in, however, is feeding our defensive linemen. The Alabama player responsible for blocking the two field goals that won the game for them was (to quote an announcer) "one biscuit shy of 300 pounds."

The bad news is that within the span of five minutes football time / thirty minutes actual time my emotions went from:

disappointed ("Looks like we're going to lose.")
to surprised ("Fumble! He fumbled! Tennessee recovered!")
to shocked ("Touchdown! We scored a touchdown!")
to sceptical ("The only chance we have to win is to recover an onside kick. That never works. And when you have one of the worst special teams in the country it's definitely not going to work.")
to awestruck ("Wegottheball! Wegottheball!")
to hopeful ("If we can just get within field goal range we can win this game.")
to anxious and pacing ("Pleasemakeitpleasemakeitpleasemakeit.")
to devastated ("That giant man blocked it again.")

And not only is this hard on your system, but the last time I experience such a wide range of emotions like this I had to be medicated.

4. I went to drown my post-game sorrow at Target. I grabbed a cart and a Diet Coke from the cooler as I came in and expected to pick up a few essentials that I would eventually need, a few items that I could really live without and a bag of candy corn that is somewhere in between. But nothing helped. Even my Diet Coke didn't taste good. I got through all of the aisles and back around to the checkout area and my cart was still empty. Which I guess was good news. Only I still had to pay for my Diet Coke. So I pulled up to a cash register with my empty cart and my half-empty beverage and the cashier burst into giggles, shook her head at me and said "All that potential and all you have to show for it is a Diet Coke. That's just shameful." Mocked by the Target cashier. Not good news.

5. I am currently half-lying on the couch while I type this and watching Amazing Race. I am annoyed (is that girl really not going down the damn water slide? What dumb-ass auditions for Amazing Race if they are afraid of water AND heights...). I am also exhausted and have a stomach ache from spending the last twelve hours driving to my grandmother's and back with my brother while we bitched about the game, sucked down waaaaay too much coffee and ate extremely shitty food. Tomorrow I have to get up early to find out how serious the once-rattly thing under my car is and then on Tuesday I have to go back to the other end of the state I drove to today and spend the rest of the week there for work. I'm trying to find the good news in there, but right now it's not working. I think I'm going to fully lie down now, feel sorry for myself and either watch British people solve a mystery or Eli Manning play football until I feel better and/or less pitiful.

See you next week.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ain't No Place I'd Rather Be

"In the East, college football is a cultural exercise;
On the West Coast, it is a tourist attraction;
In the Midwest, it is cannibalism;
But in the South, it is religion."

- Marino "Godfather" Casem

"If you live in Tennessee or Alabama,
there are two rules to live by:
Don't get married on the third Saturday in October,
and try not to die -
because in either case, the preacher might not show."

- Beano Cook

These thoughts might explain why I treat the fall with the same level of discipline and reverence, if not more so, than Lent and why I consider this week to be the college football equivalent of Holy Week (sorry, Jesus). Sure, we've got other games after this week, but - as you've heard me mention a million times before - this is the week leading to the Third Saturday in October. It's the 92nd meeting of the universities of Tennessee and Alabama. This is the epitome of SEC football - and one of the all-time greatest rivalries in all of college football.

The first game was played in 1901 and ended in a 6-6 tie when the fans stormed the field to protest a call by the officials and started a small riot.

The civility has not improved in the years since.

I was once at a game where fans nearly went over the wall after two Alabama players who were warming up on the field while Tennessee's Pride of the Southland Marching Band was performing the end of their halftime show. People screamed and yelled at the players to get off the field. An official came and told them to get off the field. They did. The official walked off. The players sauntered back onto the field and started tossing the ball around over the heads of some band members. People went completely ballistic. I was suddenly torn between fearing for the two players' lives and really hoping a Sousaphone player would just swing around and take one of them out.

That said, I don't despise Alabama like I do Florida. I don't dread the feeling of losing to Alabama like I do when we lose to Florida. I want the Alabama game to be a bloodbath of Roman Colosseum proportions on the field and a gracious handshake when its all over that honors the tradition we all just participated in. Whereas Florida... even if they win, I want those Gators to have suffered so miserably for four quarters that they cry on camera during the post-game press conference.

The Florida game is played in early September when its still hot and humid as all hell, just adding to the dank and icky feeling you have about the whole event. In contrast, you can't find a prettier setting for a football game than Knoxville in October (Tuscaloosa isn't too bad either, I hear). The days are crisp and cool and sunny and the maple trees all agree in the importance of the game as they've all turned into the teams' colors of crimson and orange by this time. It is college football at its finest.

(It's actually been a lot more than cool and crisp here - poor Oliver's been hiding under quilts and blankets. I assume it's because he's cold, but it could be that he's knows what week this is and is afraid that I'll dress him in orange again...)

The game is back on national TV this year, as God intended (CBS 2:30c / 3:30e). The weather for Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa is supposed to be 62 and sunny. Alabama is currently ranked #1 and I don't have any real expectation of winning - but you never know. Stranger things have happened. Speaking of strange... I'll end with my pick for this week's Hail Mary Haiku contest over at Rocky Top Talk. An homage to Japanese poetry, the Grateful Dead, and a great college football tradition. Nice.

We will survive the
Alabama Getaway
signed, Tennessee Jed


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Top Five List - Week in Review

1. Everything is Relative
Nobel Peace Prize, huh? Interesting. Bono is probably like, "dude, I totally have to have a shot at this now." Not that I'm saying Barack isn't worthy, or that Bono wouldn't be either for that matter, but it was all a bit surprising. Most surprising is that part of the reason he was awarded this was just because he put forth the idea (just the idea!) that if the US is going to be a world leader it should maybe be a partner with our allies and be leading with the policies they can all agree on. Fancy that. My idealist side is all warm and fuzzy thinking that maybe world peace is somewhat achievable if we break it down into simple things like this. But then my snarky pessimistic side pipes up and says "gee, what a seriously fucked-up eight years we all just lived through if this is a revolutionary concept."

But back to warm and fuzzy...

2. Dying from all the adorable
Anyone watch Jim and Pam get married on The Office last night? What a roller-coastery ride of squirm-inducing embarrassment and swoon-worthy cuteness. That Jim Halpert. I love him. And, thanks to Katie, I even have the magnetized note pad on my refrigerator to prove it. And, if fictional Jim and Pam weren't adorable enough, the real John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer are pretty damn adorable too. Video proof here.

And while I was watching...

3. Chipped
I am missing part of the girlie chip in my brain. I think I have half of it. If I'm lucky. It makes me that weird species known as Tomboy in a Dress. The kind that remembers who designed the gown Sarah Jessica Parker wore to the 2005 Emmy's, but can also tell you how many touchdown passes Peyton Manning threw last year. The kind that is a shoe/purse whore, but can't stand the color pink. The kind that always wants her toenails painted pretty colors, but can't stand for her fingernails to be painted.

And thus my point... I actually have pretty, girlie fingernails that other, more girlie-girls like to fawn over. But alas, they are attached to ugly tomboy fingers and hands. And I hate to have them painted. Occasionally though (like last night, while I was watching The Office) when I have purchased a new bottle of nail polish and am painting my toes I think "I have nice fingernails, maybe I'll paint them." And then I do. And then it dries. And then I think "Lord. This looks like someone put fake nails on Vienna sausages." And then I take it off. So that all happened last night EXCEPT I couldn't find my fingernail polish remover. So here I sit today. Typing with nicely polished nails. Well, not really, as I am also not a graceful girl and have already managed to chip three of them. Gah!

But speaking of Peyton Manning...

4. Pretty is as Pretty Does
I have a group of friends who enjoys harassing me over - well, over a lot of things - but often over the fact that I do not find Tom Brady attractive. I'm sorry. Shoot me. He's just not my cup of tea. I happen to believe that in the world of NFL quarterbacks, you fall into one of two camps - Bradys or Mannings. Being a good, red-blooded Southern, SEC football-loving girl, I am squarely in the Manning camp. I don't really find Peyton "hot" per se, but that Eli is a cutie. Regardless, I can't just go by "hotness" alone. There has to be some substance there behind any said hotness. And not only do I not find Mr. Brady to be hot, I also just don't find much else there to work with. So, whereas neither Manning boy may be of Greek God status, their personalities make them much more attractive to me.

So, this same group of friends at dinner this week launched into me again about my dislike of Tom Brady and then challenged me with "well then who DO you think is hot? Give us a top five." And you know - it was hard. The first two were easy, George Clooney and Johnny Depp. And then I stalled. And then thankfully someone changed the subject. Because again, it's not just about being pretty. I mean, I could have added Jude Law to that list because, mercy, that is a pretty man. But even if you believe a fraction of what you read about him in People magazine? Ew. Ick. David Beckham? Also rather hot, but have you heard him speak? And seen his wife? Total detractors for me. If we'd finished the list I would have added Colin Firth - but really, is he "hot?" I don't know. I love him. John Cusack? Hot? Perhaps. But definitely on my list. Rounding out the top five would have been Dave Grohl. Also, definitely not traditionally hot, but I do so love him. So very much.

Which brings me to...

5. Sibling Text Message Theater
Dave Grohl played in Nashville on Monday night. Not with the Foo Fighters or the surviving members of Nirvana. Or even Will Ferrell. It was some other ensemble. I did not go, but a friend did. And it turns out they played at a venue where my brother works. Said friend ran into said brother and they chatted while having a smoke. Turns out my brother MET DAVE GROHL backstage! Shortly after learning this bit of information I turned to the trusty qwerty keyboard on my phone:

Me: Just saw Melissa. DUDE! You met Dave Grohl!?

Brother: How's her foot?

Me: Little better. I REPEAT - DUDE! You met Dave Grohl?! WTF!!!!!

Brother: It's not like we had lunch.

Me: BUT STILL! I love him. Was he nice? What was he wearing? What did he say? What did you say?

Brother: He was cool. He said he was looking for a short, dark-haired, single girl he could spend Saturdays watching UT football games with. I said I didn't know any.

And that was the week that was. Happy Friday.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Breaking for Cuteness

I am behind on posting. Again. Such is life.

But... what better way to pay restitution than with cute baby pictures, right?

I know, I know, nothing tops dogs in scarves and football jerseys, but bear with me...

Like a month ago I babysat my niece while my brother went to the first game of the season. She and I had a grand time. We went for a stroll - once on foot and once in a stroller. Then we set up an obstacle course in the living room with stuffed animals and drove the stroller around them. Then we decided it would be way more fun if drove over the stuffed animals with the stroller, and boy howdy, was that ever hilarious.

Then she just hung out in the stroller because apparently its comfy.

We watched a lot more football that day than any toddler should be allowed, but I think it was educational. She learned to clap on first down and when boys in orange jerseys got knocked down she would say "uh-oh" and cover her eyes. Fast learner, that one. After watching the three games after that, I'd say "uh-oh" might just cover our season as a whole. We'll see. I'm trying to have faith.

But really, how could you not want to win with such an adorable fan? Am I right?

She looks so much like my brother in this last picture it's almost disturbing. I kept expecting her to finish that look by rolling her eyes and calling me a butt-head.

Happy Wednesday. Go Vols.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Not Just Any 'Ole Friday

Yesterday was Responsible Dog Owner Day according to my Google iPage (and you know how much I love to consult it for All Things Useful and Important).

Tomorrow is the Tennessee-Florida game.

So (in case you were wondering) that makes today Somewhat Irresponsible Dog Owner / Dear God You Know How Much The World Despises Those Web-Footed Swamp-Sucking Cretins So Could You PleasePleasePlease Find It Within Your Power To Make My Boys In Orange Play Well Enough To Win Or At Least Well Enough Not To Suck As Much As They Did Last Week Day.

And to celebrate this auspicious occasion. I give you (once again) dogs in festive orange outfits:

Elsie and Oliver ask that you send help and/or let them know when it's basketball season.

Go Vols!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Top Five Target Tidbits

1. If you decide to wear your red golf shirt and khaki capri pants, you should probably think twice about going to Target after work unless you want to be stopped and asked lots of questions. The fact that I knew the answers to all of their questions didn't help much.

2. I know that there's a recession if Target still has the exact same selection of dog collars as this time last year. The selection last week at Petsmart was lame as well. The dogs need back-to-school collars, dammit. What's a girl to do?

3. Disappointment over the lack of dog collar selection can be immediately mitigated by rounding the corner and discovering a giant display of candy corn.

4. I managed to get everything I needed (plus a cute pair of ballet flats) and was only $2.17 over my monthly Target budget. I was all impressed with myself since I had estimated the total in my head as I went and only had to put back one t-shirt before I got in the check-out lane. On the way home I remembered I had a calculator on my cell phone and could have added it all up and maybe put back the bag of candy corn as well. But who are we kidding...

5. Considering that I was more appropriately dressed to work at Target - and more helpful too, I might add - than the person who rang up my items (hot pink is not red, young lady) they probably could have paid me a few bucks for the time I spent there. Like maybe $2.17 or so...

Friday, September 4, 2009

What I Learned This Summer Part Five

5. Baseball and Shakespeare Just Don't Cut it

I love the romance and tradition of our American Pastime. It's so unlike our other big sports and that's part of what I love. You stand around and chat a lot. You can chew gum. You go inside if it rains. You play until you're done. None of this running around to beat the clock business. It's almost zen-like. Even more so with a cold beer. It's good.

And I love Shakespeare. I especially love it performed on a hopefully not-quite-so-muggy-but-who-are-we-kidding-here August evening, in a park, sitting on a blanket with snacks and a bottle of wine and good friends. I love that a group of local actors get together every summer and pull off a major feat of memorization and creativity and all you have to do to see it is show up and toss a donation into a bucket.

Baseball and Shakespeare in the Park. These are both great and wondrous things.

But they're not college football.

I try. I try so hard to love these quintessential summertime traditions. And I do love them. But the heart wants what it wants and my whole body literally twitches with anticipation at every scrimmage report, recruiting update, release of pre-season rankings and press conferences to put to rest what color our uniforms are going to be.

No, I'm not kidding.

There were rampant reports at one point this summer that we would be changing to black uniforms. I was all, "Really?! Is it not enough we have a new head coach who looks and dresses and runs his damn mouth like some cocky little 13 year-old? Is the plan to completely do away with everything else that is good and holy now too? Are you trying to kill me? Black uniforms? While we're at it, why don't we just send poor Smokey to the pound and get some slobbery bulldog or some stupid rooster to be our mascot instead. Or better yet, why don't we just eliminate all of our traditions in one fail swoop and at the first game drag ole Davy Crockett out to the 50 yard line and shoot him with his musket."

Honestly. There was a difficult day in July when I really thought my head might explode...

Good thing it all turned out to be a rumor, huh. It's been a sensitive summer in Big Orange Country.

The best moment of the summer though, came from my Google Reader. I have a special section on it for UT football blogs and news feeds. I try to ignore the little tab at the bottom of my computer screen as I'm working as it's updating the total number of stories I have waiting for me (there are sections for legitimate news too!). Usually it just increases one or two every few minutes unless something big happens. The other day I glanced down and watched as the story count jumped by 6 or so. Then by another 5. And then another 5. I kind of panicked thinking some big, world event had occurred or another celebrity had died.

So I opened the tab. All the new stories were in the UT Football section. The cause: the new Jumbotron at the stadium was almost completely up and they were running test pictures. People were taking photos of it from the street with their cell phones and posting it to their blogs. Hilarious. I shook my head in amusement as I opened the first few.

Then there was a post with the picture of one of the screens that contained two words - a play on our famous saying, "It's football time in Tennessee!" that is shouted by 107,000+ at the beginning of every game (and by several hundred other thousand in front of their TVs and radios).

The screen simply read, "It's Time," (spelled with the Power T, of course). Don't know the marketing team behind that bit of genius, but it perfectly sums up the end of a long summer, the hope of a new season and the promise of a new era.

Cocky new coaches and rumors of black uniforms be damned, I have to admit I got a little goose-bumpy.

And I'm not the only one. The caption under the photo read, "Amen."

Amen, indeed.

Here's to the official end of summer. And, of course, GO VOLS!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Brief Intermission

Even a Summer School Recap needs a break, right?

So I interrupt your regularly-scheduled programming because I accidentally ended up with a cute outfit today.

No, really, that's why.

That and I am completely unmotivated about the actual work I have to get done.

I really don't like summer clothes, so by August I've inevitably slipped into the very bad habit of just reaching into the closet (or the clean pile of laundry) and pulling out a pair of pants (occassionally a skirt) and then a top of some sort. Usually they go together. I don't often have to interact with people face-to-face at my job so if they happen not to go together so much it really doesn't matter. I will receive disapproving looks from the coffee house barista - but really, that's going to happen no matter what I wear...
Anyway... It's raining out and I finally unearthed my favorite umbrella from the boxes of stuff in my house and I'm accidentally feeling a tiny bit Charlotte York-ish today so I thought I'd share:

Black wrap top from the Gap that looks like this, but actually has a tiny ruffle along the edge (gasp).

Plain, go-to, wide-leg, khaki chinos. Flat-front, of course. From Eddie Bauer. I know, Charlotte would probably never be caught dead in a pair of chinos. Or anything from Eddie Bauer. Or the Gap, for that matter. Let's pretend.

Black wedge-heel sandals. Nine West.
Very cool, tan, suede cross-body bag that my mother bought for me in Italy. It has a red lining and smells delicious. And I loooove it. It's slightly different than in this picture, and a much lighter tan, but this is close enough...

And last, but not least. My burberry plaid umbrella.

Not the brand, Burberry, with a capital B because - holy hell - do you have any idea how much that would cost?!? It is Bauer with a capital B, as in Eddie. Again, like the chinos, Charlotte would probably be appalled. I did take a gander at a real Burberry umbrella once at Bloomingdale's in New York, just to compare. I nearly fainted. Mine is still really cute though. I'm one of those weirdos that likes rainy days. This makes them even better.

That is all. As you were.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What I Learned This Summer - Part Four

Sometimes Stating the Obvious Really is Helpful. Oh, and, Feng Shui Totally Works:

I've been griping about my job for some time now. Nothing official, just usually over cocktails or coffee or when some unsuspecting person asks "how's work?" Anyway... a friend sent me a link to one of those personality tests (kind of Myers Briggs-ish, if you're familiar with that sort of thing) and at the end of it you could see what jobs were well-suited for your personality type.

The result: Apparently I'm an empathetic, critically-thinking, introvert who is well-suited for a job in natural resource education. (Or a lawyer or a computer programmer, but neither of those things are going to happen...)

Good. To. Know.

At first I got a big kick out of it, but then it was kind of comforting to know that despite all of the worrying and whining and feeling like I'm wandering aimlessly all of the time, I probably am on the right track. I just need a better train compartment.

Or something else in that metaphor that makes sense....

So I decided to say so. Very officially and out loud. With feeling. And then I felt bad for doing so because, you know, I do have a job already whereas many of my friends do not - or did not for a brief time. But I said it and it was out there.

I also said this around the time that my house was finally being put back together and was once again livable - briefly a couple of unfortunate shades of paint, but that's been fixed now too. And I'm a firm believer in Feng Shui. That disordered and cluttered homes make for a disordered and cluttered lives. Now, I am very messy. I don't want to be, but I am. But I'm a highly organized messy and even in my messiness, one can see that there is usually a rhyme and a reason and there's good flow. Or chi, if you will. And my house, for like a year, has had some seriously bad chi issues.

As I recall, a friend took to calling it Shawshank...

But as soon as there was a turning point in the chaos at the blueberry cottage, there seemed to be a turning point in me. And so with the confidence that only comes with new drywall, apparently, I declared my allegiance to this current job over. Finito. I am done. I won't be leaving until something appropriate comes along, but I felt the need to announce it officially to the universe.

And you know what, within a couple of days I'd sent a little email to a professor at a local university about their new graduate school program in sustainability. You know, just to ask a couple of questions. A few days later I'd met with said professor and now it looks like I may be going back to graduate school in the spring.

Then, last week, two friends of mine had a conversation about life and jobs and such and my name was mentioned as a possible person for a project one of them was working on and a day later I'd sent in a resume and some sample work and now I may, possibly, if it all works out, have a new job. Doing what might be the most perfect job for me. Maybe. Possibly. If it all works out.

I'm trying so hard not to get my hopes up and saying that, worst-case-scenario, it's still a sign that this is the right move for me and that there are good options out there and I just need to be patient.

Patient. While I'm obsessively checking my email and cell phone like some girl pathetically waiting for some boy to call her. Patient.

Anyway... when I thought more about it, it seems as though that there are a lot of people around me who've taken a big leap of faith this summer. Much bigger than the one I've taken. They've lost their jobs and come out of it with the inspiration to be teachers. Or quit their jobs to start their own business doing something they love. Or had a baby. Or decided to adopt a baby. Or, like my niece - who is a baby - decided one day that walking might be a fun thing to try. Crazy stuff.

So it's been a big summer of change all around. And it can't just be my new drywall that did it. Somewhere there's some bigger chi at work out there. I don't care, as long as it keeps stirring up good stuff well into the fall.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What I Learned This Summer - Part Three

Grief is an Odd Feeling. Grief over Celebrities is Odder.

RIP, Michael Jackson. And, not to be crass, but you really lived longer than I thought you would. I don't know who you really were or what you did or didn't do. I do know that when we were kids my brother and I played your music as much as our Star Wars album, so that's saying a lot. And I do know that all of the weirdos wailing in the streets in their supposed sorrow (and I include most of your family in that) yeah, well, they helped to kill you and I hope they figure that out one day.

I will say that I did get a bit choked up, when in the middle of all of the circus that first week of his death, The Simpsons that Sunday simply ran the old episode where he was a guest voice. His character was Homer's roommate in an asylum who thought he was Michael Jackson and helped Bart write a song for Lisa's birthday. It was a sweet gesture and a fitting tribute to the crazy that was his life.

By far the more upsetting celebrity death for me this summer was John Hughes. And it's odd because I have no idea what he was like as a person - even in the way you think you know a celebrity, but really don't. But he was literally responsible for the soundtrack of my adolescence and with his sudden passing I feel like I really, really have to be a grown-up now. It kinda sucks.

Everyone has their favorite John Hughes movie. I, of course, love all of my teen-angst-riddled Molly Ringwald films, but I think his best was Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Silly and absurd, but also still funny and really, just very beautiful to watch. You don't usually get that from a teen comedy. John Hughes had a talent for marrying music and film in a way that isn't cliched but instead make you feel instantly nostalgic for that time in your life. Even if you weren't old enough for that time in your life to have happened yet.

Did that make any sense?

Anyway... when I would read articles about Hughes' death, the scene and the song that kept popping into my head wasn't the "The Thompson Twins and sitting on the dining table with the birthday cake," or "dancing in the school library to 'We Are Not Alone," or "Duckie lip-synching to Otis Redding." Those are all great and rightly have been posted and paid tribute to over and over again. But for me, what kept running through my mind, and what typified John Hughes work was The Art Institute of Chicago and The Smiths.

What I Learned This Summer - Part Two

2. Always, always - ALWAYS - use test paint:

Every single frickin' room in my house is, or was, in the process of being painted. In two of them I first applied test paint and have ended up with exactly the color that had been floating about in my head.

You know, in my head, the place where I am Martha Stewart and my best friends are Tom Filicia and Nate Berkus. It's all kinds of fun in there...

But, in two of the other rooms I arrogantly taped a couple of paint chips to a wall, declared a winner without much thought and then painted. Only to be horrified at the end result.

In the bedrooms I wanted a nice, coffee-with-a-bit-of-cream colored brown. Not too dark. Not too light. A Goldilocks of brown, if you will. How hard could that be, right? Well, the boys that helped me paint started on one of the bedrooms while I was busy doing something else in another room and were being suspiciously quiet while they worked. After a bit they called me in to look at the color, sounding a bit concerned. And rightly so.

It was pink.

Well, eventually a mauve-ish tan. But all wet and shiny and freshly painted, it was pink. We tried to convince ourselves that it would dry darker and be fine. In reality, I think they knew I was going to hate it, but they were very sweet (and very tall - Summer Lesson Learned Part 2.5 is always get tall boys to help you paint...) and humored me and kept painting anyway. Two days later I went back to the paint store, they added green to the paint, matched it perfectly to the color in my head and I went home and sheepishly re-painted by myself.

Then the bathroom. Oh the bathroom. It needed a muted, robin's egg blue - one of those nice Martha Stewart vintagey shades of aqua. But again... I recklessly painted and then stepped back to take a look, promptly declaring "Aaaaaand now I live in a beach house!" Turquoise. Bright, blinding turquoise. Seriously. Like hang a shrimp net in the corner, find a parrot statue for the back of the toilet and a seashell cover for the box of Kleenex. Lord. Finally though I got it right and now every morning I sigh at how much I love it and how it's finally exactly the right color. Finally.

I bemoaned to Katie about all of this one afternoon and she said that for women, picking paint colors is akin to men's inability to stop and ask for directions. It's something that we believe we should be able to just inherently do without assistance and sometimes we just can't. So true.

It's almost all done now. Well, as done as it's going to get for now. And I will share photos soon.

Until then, in my head, it's happy hour and Tom and Nate and I are enjoying martinis and discussing what fabric to recover my living room chair in, if you'd like to join us.

See you tomorrow.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What I Learned This Summer - Part One. Or....

The Official Moment Wherein:
  • My boss goes on vacation
  • I can see the light at the end of the home renovation tunnel
  • It's only 7 more days until the start of college football
  • I recently went to see Julie and Julia so I'm reminded that I should be posting something on my blog so that Nora Ephron will one day find me interesting enough to turn into a movie...

No? Ok, moving on...

So, I've been negligent. But with good reason. Kinda. I've spent most of the summer thinking about what I'd like to be when I grow up, should that moment ever happen. And, when I haven't been doing that, I've been painting and wandering through Lowe Depot and obsessively reading about college football. It's been, like, the least girlie summer in history. But I have learned a lot. So, if anyone out there still remembers me, I give you Part One of the Top Five Lessons from the Summer of 2009:

1. I Suck at Balance:

Mostly I suck at balancing the different areas of my life. I'm always letting one of them consume my time and energy and in doing so let the others sit over in the corner and collect dust. And dog hair. Lots and lots of dog hair. I've always known that I do this, but never before this summer have I realized so clearly how dysfunctional I am about it.

The aforementioned home renovation tunnel prevents me from seeking paid help for my condition so until Dr. Phil starts penning an advice column in This Old House magazine, I'm kind of on my own to figure out how to fix it.

I also physically suck at balance. Startled out of bed a couple of weeks ago - by the producers of the dog hair that's collecting on the areas of my life I can't keep balanced - I stumbled into the living room to assess the identity of the person that must've been trying to break into the house and murder us all to warrant all the frantic damn barking. Turned out it was only a stray dog running loose on our street and in the process of my stumbling I clumsily ran one of my toes directly into the dog gate, breaking it slightly.

Points for irony: knowing that it wasn't an important enough toe (second-to-last on the left foot - a.k.a. the Little Piggy Who Had None) or a severe enough break to warrant a visit to the doctor, I just taped it. But I didn't have any medical tape handy for myself, so I swiped some from the other first aid kit in the house. The dog first aid kit. If one of them sprains a paw running through the house because I've woken them up at 2am over something stupid, then maybe I'll feel badly about it.

More points for irony AND bonus humiliation points: the next day I actually had a doctor's appointment. HOWEVER, let's just say that feet were not her area of specialty but that she did have an opportunity get a good look at my feet and asked what I had done. I told her and she said not to bother seeing a doctor whose area of specialty included feet because "unless you broke it off altogether, all they're going to do is tape it." She offered to re-tape the toe for me but said it looked like I had done a good job. I neglected to mention it was thanks to the dogs' first aid kit.

So, there you go, one lesson down and four to go. Hope you've had a good summer too.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Red Letter Day

1. According to my trusty iGoogle page it's "Old Maid's Day" AND "Hug Your Cat Day." Ironic, no? I seem to have half of this holiday covered. Good news. Hopefully two neurotic dogs will be adequate substitutes for the rest...

2. Most importantly, however, today marks another birthday. An actual, non-celebrity birthday. The birthday of my dear friend, Todd. It's a milestone birthday and to celebrate he rented a house on the top of a small mountain about an hour outside of Nashville and invited 20 or so friends and family up for this past weekend.

It was this huge, rambling, century-old home full of mismatched furniture, antiques, random mementos and art, sloping wood floors, giant clawfoot tubs with no showers, and an odd assortment of monkey-themed decor that I won't go into, but suffice it to say, all together made quite the fantastic setting. It constantly felt like you were maybe in movie - where everything was just this unique and picture-perfect moment. In fact I did comment that it reminded me of a specific movie with a similar setting and at one point late on Saturday night I believe I drunk-texted Katie to tell her so. Only I forgot that text-to-email messages don't include your name so she had no clue who the hell I was (but really, Katie, who else would text you on a Saturday night to mention a movie that only you, me and ten other people saw)...

Not everyone who came up stayed for both nights - and some just came up for the day on Saturday - so there was always someone new to meet and a different conversation to be part of. Tables scattered about the porch and lawn were constantly full of drinks and snacks and buffets of delicious pasta salad and chicken salad and pimento cheese sandwiches. Martha Stewart would have been proud.

The weather was absolute perfection. I think I spent a total of 30 minutes inside on Saturday (not counting the few hours when I managed to find my bed) and I can't remember the last time that ever happened. There was croquet and cornhole and hula hooping - even an arts and crafts table - and lazing about on an enormous swing on an even more enormous wrap-around porch, or sunning yourself on the edge of the bluff and then watching the sun set over the farms and town in the valley below.

I love that our croquet game came complete with a little table for our cocktails.
Lord knows how much longer the game would have gone on if we'd all had to play one-handed...

My very first game of cornhole. I've resisted this activity because, seriously!?
That has to be the most ridiculous name for a game ever. It is pretty fun though.
And unlike croquet, you play one-handed. Advantage: cornhole.

I try to avoid posting close-ups of friends and family on the interwebs
unless they've given me permission. But that's the birthday boy there
on the right showing us his mad artistic abilities, so I couldn't resist.

Those are well-placed tiki torches there in the foreground.
They marked the edge of the bluff and came in especially handy during a
star-gazing-turned-yard-nap activity late Saturday / early Sunday.

Much like a wedding reception, it was one of those occasions where someone's circles of friends and family converge all in one space. When that happens there is a high risk of it all ending poorly - but it didn't, not in the least - most likely as a testament to the kind of person my friend is. Which is to say he is one of the most genuinely good and wonderful people I know. If this past weekend is any indication, he's in for a great year. And it is well deserved. Happy Birthday.