Friday, January 30, 2009

Happy Friday

Greetings from the end of the non-profit version of Hell Week: January Grant Report Submitting Week! a.k.a. Thank You Sooo Much for the Chunk O' Change Last Year Here's a Bunch of Pages Explaining How We Spent it and Ooooh See We Made it Look All Fancy So Would You Pretty Please Give Us More Now.

Woo. Hoo. (said as I try to figure out how to drink coffee without lifting my head off my desk).

My brain is a bit scrambled and I started pondering the gloriousness of what a nice glass of Jack Daniels might taste like later this evening around ohhh 8:17 this morning - so yeah - I think my Friday is off to a good start...

In honor of the day - here's a top-five random list of crap (plus photos!) to catch you up on our time apart:

1. The Peer Pressure - it Taunts Me.
Here's a conversation I seem to be having a lot these days:
Friend/Relative /Acquaintance/Passerby on the Sidewalk: Hey! You're on Facebook, right?
Gert: Uh, no.
Friend/Relative /Acquaintance/Passerby on the Sidewalk: OMG! How can you not be on Facebook?! I want friend/poke/throw a snowball at you!
Gert: What the hell are you talking about?!?

Friend M: Are you on Facebook?! You better NOT be on Facebook. We're the only two left who aren't - DON'T DO IT!
Gert: I'm not!
Friend M: Seriously. I mean it.
Gert: OK!

I feel like I'm starring in some after-school special. I did find out, however, that a former elementary school crush is on Facebook.
(I used to woefully sing along to this album because of him)

so the scales may be tipping...

2. Meat
I think I managed to eat a portion of one of every animal in God's kingdom over the holidays. I am not (obviously) a vegetarian, but I don't make a habit of eating a lot of meat. And I recently learned that what I am is a "flexitarian" (yes, it's a word). And I don't know if there's a flexitarian wagon to fall off of, but I guarantee that if there is, somewhere between November 27 and January 1, my fat ass did a triple gainer off said wagon. So now I've been trying to seriously limit my meat eating. Trying. The results have varied. This week I've done really well though.

Why am I a flexitarian? (yes, it's a word). Is it because I want to be a vegetarian but have no self discipline? No. Well... I don't have any self-discipline, but that needs it's own post... No, it's partly because I don't like to cook meat. (It's icky and there's a lot of room for error. Vegetables are far more forgiving.) But also it's more for environmental reasons. Carbon footprint and whatnot. But really, I really have no interest in telling you any of that at this moment either. My only interest here is to say that tonight while enjoying my glass of Jack Daniels - I will be partaking in some tasty, tasty barbecue...

3. The Cat's Pajamas. And Bathrobe. And Slippers.
Guess who made a visit to Nashvegas? Craig Ferguson!

Guess who went to see his show? I did!
How was it? As glorious as you might imagine. If he'd brought Tim Gunn out as a special guest I might have just decided to die happy right then.

4. Welcome to the 21st Century!
My New Year's Resolution was to upgrade my technology.

Step one: Get actual/non-dial-up internet service.

Result: Done! DSL - where have you been all my life!

Step two: get a grown up/non-pay-as-you-go cell phone plan and a cell phone with a QWERTY keyboard so that much-preferred text messaging will not be so damn annoying.

Result: Expensive! And difficult to figure out my options! Forget it! Don't mind me - I'll just sit here quietly and peck out a text to my brother to meet me after the Craig Ferguson show! Oh, uh, hey there drunken hillbilly hitting on my friend and maybe me in a minute if said brother doesn't show up! Pay no attention as I text him a quick "PLZ HURRY"! 7-5-5-5-9-9-9-9! Dammittohell!

Oh, hi new Pantech Slate I ordered this morning - where have you been all of my life!

Step three: get an iPod.

Result: Oy. Vey. Head still hurts from cell phone decision. Stay tuned...

5. Several Deadly Sins.
A couple of weekends ago I went in search of boots. Black, pointy-toed, spikey-heeled boots. I did not find said boots. But, there is a universal shoe rule that states if you are planning to buy boots and you do not buy boots, you may buy TWO pair of regular shoes instead. So I got a very cute, but nondescript pair of little brown suede flat loafery things. And then... I found these:
Tweed. Ballet flats. Their adorableness knows no bounds.

But then... Anti-Facebook Friend M comes in with her new pair of Coach rain boots that are crazy-weird and totally made of awesome and I am so jealous. To make matters worse it has been rainy and snowy and sloppy ALL WEEK and not only can the Boundlessly Adorable Tweed Flats not be worn, but the Rain Boots of Awesome can. Envy! Wrath! Go ahead and throw in gluttony and sloth in there too for good measure.

You know, this may have tipped the Facebook scales a bit further... Is Spite a cardinal sin?

Happy Friday (finally!)

Friday, January 23, 2009


This post is a bit anticlimactic now, but throughout the presidential campaign, election, and pre-inauguration time I kept hearing songs appropriate to the events which stuck in my head or songs would inspirationally pop into my head and I would sing them in the shower or to the dogs.

On the way down to the beach I started to make a list of them, thinking I would put them up on here when I got back and ask for additional suggestions. Well... we can all see that didn't happen. I did, however, manage to pull together two rather lengthy CDs full for the inauguration party. There were so many people in the house though that I doubt anyone could hear/notice that music was playing.

So... in case you've been thinking "Gee, I'd really like a couple of playlists full of completely random, yet inspirational and/or bouncy music to remind me of the past year" here are my suggestions. At this point some are beyond obvious and borderline cliche, but I like them anyway. Enjoy. And... thanks to the magic of YouTube - I've linked them so you can go listen/watch for yourself.

List One.

1. YES WE CAN - Will I Am and friends
This was adapted from Obama's concession speech after the New Hampshire primary. It was one of the most moving things I'd ever heard and if I hadn't already decided I was voting for him long before that - I would have decided to that night. I don't normally enjoy celebrity-endorsed public service-type things, but this is good and I'm so glad someone did something like this with it.

2. HIGHER GROUND - Stevie Wonder

3. HEAVENLY DAY - Patty Griffin
In my next life I want to be able to sing like this woman. Plus, she supposedly wrote this song about her dog. How great is that?


5. WHAT'S GOING ON - Marvin Gaye

6. WHERE IS THE LOVE? - Black Eyed Peas

7. ONE - Mary J. Blige & U2
My love of U2 goes without saying - but that Mary J. Blige. I'd listen to her sing the phone book. And such a cool combination with him and for that song.

8. AMERICA - Simon & Garfunkel


10. SHED A LITTLE LIGHT - James Taylor

11. THE RISING - Bruce Springsteen
I've always had a healthy respect for Bruce, but he's never been anyone I've gone out of my way to listen to. Until this song. And this specific performance of it, actually. I get almost evangelical when I hear this song. I said almost...


13. SHINING STAR - Earth, Wind & Fire

14. LOVE & HAPPINESS - Al Green
This is one of my all-time favorite songs ever for any reason or occasion.

15. PINK HOUSES - John Mellencamp

16. HAMMER AND A NAIL - Indigo Girls


List Two.

Everyone else and their cat is on YouTube singing this song, but I couldn't find one of him actually singing that didn't involve a really awful montage of some sort.


I just always feel a little cooler / less dorky when I listen to Lauren Hill.


5. TOUCH THE SKY - Kanye West
Dude is such a colossal jack-ass, but he puts together a good tune.

6. LOVE TRAIN - The O'Jays

7. JOY TO THE WORLD - Three Dog Night

8. EVERYDAY PEOPLE - Sly & the Family Stone

9. PEOPLE GET READY - Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions

10. WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD - Willie Nelson

11. LOVE & HOPE - Ozomatli

12. IF I HAD A HAMMER - Peter, Paul & Mary
I always feel a lot less cool / more dorky when I listen to Peter, Paul & Mary, but that's OK...

13. BRAND NEW DAY - Van Morrison
Not on YouTube. Tragic. It's a really pretty song.

14. I NEED TO WAKE UP - Melissa Etheridge
It's the song from Inconvenient Truth. I like it on it's own, but I also knew I needed a little tribute to Al in here somewhere.


16. PEACE, LOVE & UNDERSTANDING - Elvis Costello

17. AT LAST - Etta James
Although, after seeing Beyonce's performance of this at the first inaugural ball and her interview after, I feel like I should have included her version too. She was too cute.

Enough? Probably more than. I would have liked to have included something by Johnny Cash. He did a great spoken-word song/poem thing about "I am America." It's pretty cool, but odd at the same time. Other things missing - Dixie Chicks and John Legend and my mother had a request for Aretha Franklin that did make the final cut either.

Part of me also wanted to include the quintessential anti-Bush tirade - Green Day's "American Idiot" but I tried to keep it all as positive as possible. I'll just have to be happy doing what I normally do, which is leave it in the CD changer in the car and turn it up to 11 when I'm sitting next to a Hummer at a traffic light.

Perhaps our new president can inspire me enough to grow up and stop doing petty crap like that. But I think he'll need a second term. Ooo... then I can make two more playlists...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


How did you spend your inauguration day?

7:37 - I drag the small TV from my home office into my office office and can only get in CBS with the antenna. My entire inaugural day experience is now solely in the hands of Katie Couric. Speaking of Katie... her eye's look fantastic even on my slightly staticy reception. What is up with her hair though??

9:35 - I still haven't been able to wrap my head around all of this. I keep expecting it to hit me like a big ton of bricks, but so far it's all still surreal.

10:19 - Hey, Announcer Dude, it Rose-a-lin Carter, not Roz-a-lin. But I do like the matching purple scarves on the elder Bushes. Katie says it's because red and blue make purple. Cute.

10:35 - Is it just me, or does Dick Cheney in that wheelchair look remarkably like Mr. Potter from It's a Wonderful Life?

11:06 - Is anyone else glad to see Obama flub the oath? I mean, not glad in a schadenfreudean way, but in an endearing human moment sort of way... Oh wait... according to Katie, the Chief Justice screwed it up. Still kinda cute. Oh wait (again)... the Chief Justice didn't even write it down?! Not at all cute. Kinda jack-assy actually.

11:12 - Inaugural address is not the bone-shaking, tear-inducing piece of oratory magnificence that I've heard from him before. But maybe that's a good thing...

11:15 - Cut to shot of Tuskegee Airmen. Cue aforementioned ton of bricks.

11:28 - I've tried to stay neutral and keep my mouth shut about Rick Warren. My only comment on the subject now is going to be that Rev. Lowery's benediction totally kicked Rick Warren's invocation's ass.

11:33 - Friend calls to ask "Have you cried enough yet?" You know, I don't think I have. Knowing me I'll wait until a week or so from now and break into hysterics while in line at the grocery store.

11:39 - One last fly-over by our OUTGOING PRESIDENT!!!! If only there had been a screen door on the White House to hit him in the ass on the way out...

12:10 - Do they always do a luncheon? Is it just not normally televised? Are we really going to watch him eat? OK... I guess we are... Oh good, MY lunch just showed up. I'm going to go watch myself eat instead.

1:41 - I call a co-worker in to watch because someone (I'm looking at you, Couric) indicated that the parade would be starting shortly. But no. It's a continuation of people eating and then a very odd presentation of gifts. We keep watching for a few more minutes Mystery Science Theater 3000 style: "What - do they have a Walgreens inside the White House?" (regarding the framed photos of the swearing-in). "And now the bestowing of the bowls" (what were those things??) And then capped it off with a mock imitation of Feinstein as though the toast she's giving is all Crazy Drunken Aunt Dianne at a Wedding Reception. (Our apologies to Sen. Kennedy - in our defense we tuned in after he became ill and I'm very happy he seems to be doing better now.) We then give up and go back to actually working.

1:53 - Dude, did you hear all of the features on the presidential limo? Cra-zy. And check out the flanking Suburbans with three secret service people hanging off each side. THAT should be the only justification for buying one of those damn things: "Do your everyday activities require a security detail? Yes? OK - but do they need to travel along with you on the OUTSIDE of the vehicle? No? Well, then I'm sorry - no ginormous SUV for you!"

2 something (I've stopped keeping track) - They got out of the limo! Gotta say - watching you walk is so much better than watching you eat. There is a unanimous decision in the office that 1) the screaming is Beatle-esque; 2) while we really like Michelle's outfit (especially the color) we're not thrilled with the green gloves. (I later lighten up on the gloves when I find out that they match her green Jimmy Choos); and 3) Katie didn't really need to tell us that Barack has long underwear on under his suit.

3:00 - Just as the parade gets going, our CBS affiliate goes to local news. What the hell am I going to do now?? Oh yeah. Work.

Sometime between 6:30 and 7:00 - 45 people (give or take a one or two) arrive at my mother and step-father's house to bask in the glow of the day. It's especially fitting as on this day eight years ago we had a similar number of people in their house for a wake. For Democracy. The invitation was an obituary. In lieu of flowers you were asked to bring a covered dish. Everyone wore black and some of us played drinking games while watching the inaugural balls. Good times. But tonight is better.

9ish - We watch them dance at another ball and comment again on how pretty her gown is. For the first time today I'm watching a television with cable. All that means, however, is instead of being told that Obama is wearing long underwear, Matthews and Obermann won't stop obsessing about his dancing. I make a comment that I don't think we've ever had a first lady wear an off-the-shoulder or strapless-ish inaugural gown. I'm immediately corrected by a couple of gay friends who inform me that, in fact, Nancy Reagan wore a white one-shouldered gown for her first inaugural ball. AND that technically Obama should be wearing tails if he's wearing a white tie. See! He's not perfect. The whiners in the world can lighten up now.

11:00 - I finally get home. I want to watch Craig Ferguson and hear his witty comments on the day's events, but its not on for another 30 minutes. I decide to rest on the couch and watch a rerun of "That 70's Show" on WB until it starts. "Hey look - Jackie's wearing a sweater exactly like the one I wore in my 6th grade class pict... zzzzzzzz..."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Little Pink Houses

I bought my house seven years ago - a tiny 1930's cottage painted three completely random, terribly unattractive, shades of green with mustard yellow trim. My neighborhood was undergoing a bit of revitalization when I moved in and many of the houses on my street were under the process of renovation and/or restoration and it usually involved painting the outside - or at least the shutters - a bright and cheerful color. The house across from me is red. One down the street is mint green, and one further down is terracotta. I think maybe the intention of the previous owner was to paint mine a bright and cheerful color when he was getting it ready to sell, but he missed the mark. In his defense, he was a heterosexual male (we all know they shouldn't be allowed to make decisions when it comes to paint or fabric) and, well, he was also a slumlord trying to unload some property and probably didn't give a rat's ass what colors he slapped on it just as long as it didn't look quite so much like a crack or meth house when he was done.

Needless to say, when I had gathered the funds I had it painted. Choosing a color was a bit challenging, but I eventually picked a dark indigo blue. As paint often does, it dried much lighter than that. It took a little getting used to, but now I love it. It is the little blueberry cottage and stands out nicely from behind the two big maple trees in the front yard.

What is my point with all of this, you ask. Well, when it was all painted, I stood admiring it from the street and thought to myself how cute and quaint it would be come 4th of July, Memorial Day, etc. with an American flag (and come September with an orange and white checkerboard flag) hanging from the porch or mounted by the door. But, as I mentioned, I've owned my house for seven years - as in - I've lived in my house for almost the entire time George Bush has been in office. And what with all the chicanery around his getting into office, his deciding which countries to label as "evil," which people to label as "patriotic," and his continuous assault on our constitution, I haven't really been too keen on hanging a flag on my house.

You may be thinking right now that I am shameful. And you would be right. I was never not proud to be an American during these years - I just wasn't particularly proud of my country for quite a bit of these years. But that's not why I feel any shame. I don't think it's shameful to be angry - or disgusted at times - with your government or approximately half of your fellow citizenry. What I feel shame for is that during that time I allowed others to co-opt what it meant to be patriotic or to be an American. Just as I feel shame and guilt for allowing the religious right to co-opt what it means to be a Christian. I don't do my cause or represent my beliefs very well when I allow others to affect my actions in that way. I needed to just get over myself, but I didn't.

But no more. Today when the sun came up the blueberry cottage was appropriately attired.

And not because the candidate I voted for won the election. And not because of the color of his skin. But because for the first time since I was in grade school, I feel inspired by my government and by my country to be a better person.

I just hope that if any of our founding fathers and mothers glance down in this direction today they can overlook the current lack of landscaping and that my porch and it's roof could seriously use a good power washer.

(P.S. if you think I'm bad, my mother isn't putting her flag on her house until 12:01).

(P.P.S. yes, I just realized that I didn't hang it correctly - the blue should be on the left. I Google everything but apparently it never occurred to me to look up "how to hang a flag." I'll change it this afternoon.)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

$7 Pants Update

My new brown cords (see below) were just worn for six straight hours and no hives! Old Navy may have redeemed itself.

PLUS - part of my six hours were spent at Target where I found the following:

White ceramic spoon rest - $1.29!

Queen flannel sheet set - $13.69!

DVD of Sense & Sensibility (the Kate Winslet / Emma Thompson / Hugh Grant version) - $4.49!

Of course, it's me, so now I fully expect Dick Cheney and/or Kenny Chesney to be parachuting onto my roof at any moment.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


My boss has been in town but was supposed to be busy in meetings today and going straight to the airport, bypassing my office altogether. Instead, her plans changed and she was there sitting across from me all afternoon. I'd had errands that I needed to run for work that were then delayed because I am apparently the only one who knows where the pens are. Where the envelopes are. How to make coffee. What her email password is (no, I'm not kidding).

I was finally free to run my errands late in the afternoon and finished with my last stop at a shopping center right at the peak of rush hour. Not wanting to spend 45 minutes getting home, I decided to wait out the worst of it at Old Navy...

Where I got a pair of brown cords for $7.25! Woo hoo!

Of course, as I was putting on my coat to head back to the car I remembered that my karma has a remarkably quick turnaround (as was just displayed by the boss ambush / bargain pants senario)... oh, and, that the last pair of cords I bought at Old Navy gave me hives...

But I decided that I would be positive and stop expecting the worst to always be around the next corner. I headed home on what were surprisingly traffic-free roads. I pulled into the driveway and cautiously checked the mail box only to find it free of bills and instead containing my new Southern Living and Domino magazines. I hesitantly opened the door only to find two calm, well-behaved dogs. I checked the clock and was delighted to see that I had just enough time to take a shower, put on my favorite hoodie and flannel pajama pants and settle in on the couch with my two magazines right at 7:00 for the only night of good television.

That was instead filled with George W. Bush.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

From the Archives

I've started a new post, but so far it sucks and I've yet to come up with anything else.

But then my iGoogle page says today is National Dress Your Pet Day. Don't know whose brilliant idea that was, but I think it's safe to say it was not the creation of my favorite on-line canine.

Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of the idea myself - but you know - sometimes it's really necessary:

Judging by the looks on their faces, I think it's safe to say you won't be getting a "Happy Dress Your Pet Day" card from Elsie or Oliver either.

Friday, January 9, 2009

On that you can depend

I don't know when I've said Happy New Year and meant it more. It seems everyone I know has experienced some kind of tragedy and loss in 2008. No one seemed immune and just before the end of the year, neither was I.

A few weeks ago my friend went into the hospital to get help for ongoing back trouble and discovered that what he also had was pancreatic cancer. It was already very advanced and aggressive and had spread to his liver. He came home from the hospital a week before Christmas. Two days before Christmas he died.

The day of the funeral I'd been on a steady intake of Starbucks so that my brain would be too amped-up and twitchy to think about what was actually going on. I'd been driving his car, in part, because mine was in the shop and his family was incredibly kind to insist that I use it. Getting in his car to run my last errand before I headed to the church, I went to find a cup-holder for my upteenth cup of coffee. There wasn't one, so I reached back to set it in the open compartment between the front seats. The compartment contained something of his that I didn't want to accidentally get coffee on, so I pulled it out and put it on the passenger seat. It was his picture ID badge for work. There was his little face smirking up at me and looking nothing like the person I'd just seen wither away over the past few days. All of my efforts of caffinated distraction were suddenly futile and things went steadily downhill from there.

Downhill because, as it turns out, I am often slow to process things. In bad situations I feel shock and sadness but in the beginning am oddly able to keep it under control and go about doing what I need to get done. While most normal people are letting their feelings out in smaller, more manageable increments I, apparently unconsciously, save all of mine for later. Like for when I'm dressed up and wearing make-up and there are lots of people around to wonder if I need to be medicated.

In the preparations for the funeral it was mentioned that I might be one of the people interested in giving a remembrance during the service. My immediate response to that notion was "no." I felt guilty saying it but knew that standing in front of a crowd of people like that was not something I was capable of and that someone else would do a much better job. It turned out that I was right on both counts. Had I been brave enough to do it, this is what I would have said.


Eddie and I met as co-workers ten-ish years ago at one of the historic mansions in Nashville. We staffed weddings and receptions and banquets and things. He was hilarious and the events we worked together always seemed to go by much faster than I wanted them to.

My favorite memory of him will always be of us working a wedding where the two families and most of the guests were professional ballroom dancers. During the reception they took it upon themselves to expand the dance floor, trapping Eddie and myself in the gift shop. It was a humid summer night and we were tired and punchy and surrounded by all things grand and old and Southern. The situation screamed for a veranda and something with bourbon, but we settled for putting on our best drawls and quoting the classics. Classics being Steel Magnolias, North and South (that awful miniseries from 80's) and entire episodes of Designing Women. Eddie could recite one of Julia's tirades or imitate Suzanne Sugarbaker like no one else. One of our mutual favorite episodes being when Suzanne wanted to be Diana Ross in the fundraiser / talent show. I laughed myself sick that night and have yet to see a commercial for Dancing with the Stars and been able to keep a straight face.

Later, Eddie and I were neighbors. When I bought my house I was thrilled to discover that he lived one street over. Always considerate, he came over with wine to celebrate my first night as a homeowner. Over the years we would exchange the occasional covered dish, neighborhood gossip and tales of home improvement projects gone awry.

More recently we were drinking buddies. We found ourselves part of a group of people that meets at a neighborhood bar on Fridays. Most of the group is made up of couples so we would occasionally exchange emails earlier in the day to see if we would be the other's date that night.

One Friday we discovered our mutual love of the TV show Lost and would often spend a good portion of those evenings sharing theories and rehashing the week's episode. I still don't know quite what my faith or theory is on the afterlife, but I do know that whatever it is, Eddie's first order of business was to find out what the hell is going on on that damn island and is quite pleased he found out before I did.

We were never friends who spent every spare minute together or shared every secret, but we were good friends who knew we could depend on and call the other if we ever needed anything. I was able to spend one night at his house after he came back from the hospital. We stayed up late playing gin and listening to music. Well... to be more accurate... we sat with cards in our hands as he was too doped-up on morphine to really play and the music was really mostly just him trying to talk me into liking Celine Dion.

In fact, Eddie would probably tell me the only thing that could make this post about him any better would be a nice video montage of Celine Dion. Well, we all know that's not going to happen, but hopefully this will do instead.