Monday, August 23, 2010

Summer of 2010

So weekly posts went to monthly and now they seem to have gone to quarterly...

What's my problem? I'd like to be able to say that my life is so glamorous that I just can't be bothered, but really now, who are we kidding?

The real reason I happen to have this evening free for blogging? I originally planned to spend it catching up on this season of True Blood via HBO On Demand at the home of two of my main gays. However, they forgot that tonight was the Miss Universe Pageant. And, well, all boys have to have their priorities. So I opted to stay home and watch the Titans game instead.

Yes, you are picturing all of this correctly. I am sitting on my couch watching Monday Night Football while a few blocks away two grown men sit watching Miss Universe, texting me with updates every ten minutes.

Anyway... there have been other things keeping me from posting. Grouchy things. Good and fun things. General life and stuff things. So here's a rundown of how I've spent my summer.

1. Sweating. This hot-as-all-frickin'-blue-blazes summer keeps sucking up my will to breathe.

2. Laughing. I have seriously funny friends and family members that I find myself being thankful for more and more in these crazy times. I went on a road trip with a friend and her two kids who kept me giggling almost constantly. My aunts came to visit and my family has a way of cracking ourselves up when a bunch of us get together in one room. I also attended a wedding with a group of friends - and an open bar - and imagine we'll be retelling stories and sharing pictures for some time to come. Oh, and I took a hoola-hoop class. So... enough said there...

3. Crying. The heat depresses me and makes me more of an easier crier than usual. Over my flood-damaged city. Over friends who've broken each others hearts and mine in the process. Over Story Corps on NPR every damn Friday. Over a newly adopted baby and her patient and deserving parents. Over a dead opossum in my yard. How I'm able to keep my body hydrated enough in this weather to form tears is beyond me, but somehow I seem to have managed.

4. Fretting. It's a never-ending list. Illness. The economy. Oil spill. Proposition 8. The upcoming college football season. But seriously... the big issue weighing on my mind lately is all of the hate-mongering over religion that seems to be brewing. It's likely what will push me from fretting over into fuming.

5. Sweeping. The dog hair in this house has reached epic proportions this summer. I've almost convinced myself to buy a loom and try to profit from this freak show. Keep an eye out for my wares on Etsy. I'm sure they'll be a huge hit.

So that's the season in a nutshell. I wish I had a groovy photo montage to share. I'm coveting an Olympus PEN digital camera so hopefully my autumn and/or winter will be well-documented. After all, I'll need to show off all of the hand-knit collie-blend scarves I'm planning.

In the meantime, I've just been informed that Miss USA did not make the top 15 and I apparently have some consoling to do. At least the Titans are winning...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

May (and June) Madness

I. Have become a bad blogger. Those of you who post regularly, I applaud and am amazed by you. It's not that I can't find the time. It's that I just don't seem to be particularly good at managing my time. My new job also keeps me super busy doing what I like to be doing, which is crafty, creative stuff. So, while I couldn't be happier, I feel neither crafty nor creative when I get home.

I'm going to try to be better...

In the meantime, here's the good, the bad, and the ugly of what's been going on for the last almost two months. Except I'll start with the bad.

1. Granny
My grandmother passed away a few weeks ago. I considered writing a full post in dedication, but her opinion on that would not have been favorable. Besides, I think this story pretty much sums her up. She sold Merle Norman cosmetics for an eon and a half. She loved to gamble - the slots, the ponies, and football boards being her favorites. She loved to say things that were inappropriate. She loved to entertain. She used to throw a big Christmas Eve party and I always said she could navigate her small apartment filled with people, powered by nothing but a fake hip and several bourbon and sodas, more skillfully than anyone who was half her age and had half as much to drink. She lived until eight days after her 88th birthday. We're guessing it was because she had a bet with someone. In the last few months her quality of life was rapidly deteriorating, so 75% of me is happy that she was able to go when she did. The other 25% will probably feel otherwise next year around Kentucky Derby time.

2. Travel
I was in San Francisco at the beginning of May. Mostly for work, but I did get a day to roam around the city. The weather was beautiful and I had a good time, but it was also weird. Normally I'm fine travelling alone. But this was the first trip in a while for me sans gays. And I've come to an important conclusion. (Rick Steves, take note!) Travel is better with a pair of gays. Seriously. If they aren't wanting to do the same shopping and touristy things as you, then they're super organized with all of the travel information that, if you're like me, you normally end up being responsible for. And hell, if nothing else, they'll buy you nice cocktails and compliment your shoes. I explained this epiphany to one of said gays while I was sulking a bit in my hotel room. His response? "Well dear, you are in San Francisco - just go and get yourself two more." "You know" I exclaimed (well, typed with an excited smiley face since I was on Skype), "I could probably just call down to the front desk!" I never did, but the whole thing has given me a fabulous idea for a niche-market travel agency...

3. Life and Other Disasters
Lately it's feels like President Obama is starring in some sort of remake of The Money Pit. I bet he thought he was going to have this great adventure - get yourself a nice fixer-upper of a country, refinish the hardwood floors, redo a bathroom or two and then flip it in eight years. But no. As soon as the papers are signed, the roof starts to leak, the HVAC unit dies, and all of the wiring has to be upgraded. So you suck it up and get to work only to discover that the house is now worth half of what it was a month ago, the bank where you pay your mortgage has collapsed, you wake up with swine flu, and then oil erupts into the Gulf of Mexico. Good times. That said, I'm not going to dwell on the horror that is the oil spill. I've been trying to despise BP but I can't without thinking that we should all be despising ourselves and the role our gluttony has played in this. My Presiding Bishop (who just really kicks ass on any given day of the week, in my opinion) was originally an oceanographer by trade. She wrote a great piece about the oil spill and you can read it here. Not every day that the insert in your Sunday bulletin is also featured in the Huffington Post...

So, that's all I got. Hope you're having a lovely summer. I'll be back soon to gripe about the heat if nothing else - 'cause it is freakin' damn hot down here right now.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Five Feet High and Risin'

About two weeks and twelve years ago, an F-3 tornado ripped through downtown Nashville. It destroyed my little historic church and much of the little historic neighborhood where I now live. At the time, I was in school in Ohio and I spent several days parked on my futon in front of the news and watched friends and relatives being interviewed by national reporters.

From this past Saturday evening until last night I had to do the same thing all over again. Only this time it was flood waters that inundated downtown Nashville instead of wind, and I was in a hotel room in Colorado instead of the futon in my apartment.

The other difference this time, it seems, is that my city has had to share the news cycle with car bombers and oil spills and wingnut immigration legislation and maybe it's received less of the spotlight than it should. Maybe. Many people around here certainly think so and are outraged. I'm not sure I'm in the same camp. If we were swarmed with reporters 24-7 it would just create a shortage of actual news and leave them with nothing to do but ferret out the most ridiculous situations and even more opportunity to report things incorrectly. As it is, I'm already annoyed by the news: "That's not the symphony hall - that's the Country Music Hall of Fame!" "That's not how you pronounce the police chief's name!" "The Opryland Hotel isn't downtown - it's nowhere near downtown!"

I also don't have a lot of faith that they would show the real Nashville. The whole Nashville. The Nashville that I know - grungy, beautiful, absurd, welcoming, tacky, funny, annoying, gracious, ridiculous, wonderful, and weird. They would miss the fact that when it snowed a few inches this winter we were completely incapacitated, but with a devastating flood everyone (it seems anyway) has come together and quietly gotten down to the business of helping their neighbors and reminding us why we're the Volunteer State. On Monday my mother called to say that my next door neighbor had gone out in his boat to help evacuate people. When the mayor put out a call for people to help sandbag the levy near my office, 300 people showed up within an hour. A friend called on Tuesday and said Hands On Nashville (right) already had offers of help from more than 7,000 people. Last I heard, that number was up to 20,000.

And in case you were wondering... by the grace of a little bit of elevation, and a lot of luck, my church and neighborhood that were so ravaged by that tornado, managed to escape the worst of the flood. The rest of the city and its outer suburbs, however, did not. Many people have died. Interstates turned into rivers within minutes, deep enough to cover a semi-truck. The Grand Ole Opry, the Titans' football field, and our main water treatment plant were under several feet of water.

While I am happy and thankful that my little corner of town was spared, it also has caused some guilt. Guilt of not having been here; guilt for only suffering a couple of fallen gutters and a house that smells like soggy dog; guilt for not realizing at first how bad the flooding was. Another friend expressed similar thoughts in a much more poetic fashion here. She also shared the following video.

What's the most fitting music to put to images of the great Nashville flood, you ask?
Why, Johnny Cash, of course.

I hope all of this doesn't mean we'll be suffering a plague of locusts in another twelve years and two weeks. That's bound to test even the strongest of Southern resolves and hospitality. In the meantime, while I'm kind of glad not to have Brian Williams and Wolf Blitzer beating down our doors, I do hope we can still find a way to let the rest of the country know what is going on and that they keep us in their thoughts.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Home Sick

I was in Denver for work the end of last week and over the weekend. And while it was a great trip - and I have all kinds of crafty things to chat about - I also had to sit by the television and watch my city flood on CNN. I'm very fortunate that my home, and the homes of my friends and family are all okay, but many, many others are not. Its a real - and surreal - mess down here.

So... more about this later... here's what I would have posted otherwise...

Rocky Mountain High
I was in Denver for a gigantic conference for work and was also there with two of my main gays. So, to add to all of the hiking around their convention center (but look, isn't it the cutest convention center you've ever seen?) I was also galavanting around the city in the evenings and plied with cocktails until all hours. And when you combine those activities with a new time zone, a different climate, and crazy altitude, I'm now totally exhausted and have a cold. HOWEVER, on the plus side, while in Denver, I was served drinks from a bartender that looks like Michael Phelps, rode in an elevator with a mini Evan Lysacek, and one of the presenters at a session I attended sounded just like the Count from Sesame Street: "ONE cognative learning research method! TWO cognative learning research methods! Bwah-ah-ah!" (made the presentation waaaay more interesting, BTW.) So really - two olympic athlete look-alikes and a muppet impersonator - what more do you need to give a trip two thumbs up than that?

Last Supper

I had one of the best $*#@& meals of my life at this place. Mostly organic, locally grown yumminess. It's in a old service station, which they've managed to pay homage to nicely, and most of the interior is from reused, salvaged and recycled/repurposed materials. If you're ever in Denver, you must go.

No Mary Ann Either
My only cons of Denver: 1. people can be a little gruff and inconsiderate with your personal space. 2. There's apparently no gingerale available in the entire town. I tried to order a Jack and Ginger on more than one occassion, only to be met with a quizzical look or blank stare as the bartender replied, "uhhh we don't have ginger..." Thinking they thought I meant actual ginger, I would clarify, "gingerALE." When met with another "no," accompanied with a look of "I knew what you meant, dumbass," I first went in the opposite direction and settled for a lemon drop. The second time they had already poured the Jack Daniels in the glass so I just went with that. Made my scratchy throat feel much better.

Familiar Feel

While wandering around downtown Denver, I stopped into sports memorabilia and souvenier store. Now, the city of Denver has been good to my boys in orange and I was therefore tempted to buy either a Todd Helton / Rockies shirt or a Broncos shirt in honor of Al Wilson. You've heard me speak of my love of Al Wilson before, but for your amusing bit o' sports trivia for the day, I will tell you about the other. Todd Helton attended the University of Tennessee on both a football and baseball scholarship. Legend has it, he was debating about whether to switch to baseball full time, but couldn't make up his mind. In football he was one of two backup quarterbacks and early in the season of his sophomore year (I believe), the starting quarterback suffered a season-ending injury. At the next practice, the two backup quarterbacks vied for the starting position and Helton's mind was quickly made up - he would leave football - and went on to an amazing baseball career with Tennessee and then the Rockies. The other backup quarterback: Peyton Manning.

Resistance is Futile. Cue the Dirge.
It was decided that my new place of employment does not have enough of an online presence, including social media. It was also decided that I would be responsible for improving that presence, finding ways to market our organization through social media, and keeping an eye on what our competitors are up to out there in the interwebs. So, guess who had to join Facebook against her will and better judgement? And guess whose time has been heard loudly sucked through the tubes of said interwebs in the mere 24 hours since she opened an account? Kill me now. That said... if you want to "friend" me and don't already know my real name, just click over there on the right and send me an email.

And finally... speaking of clicking over there to the right... if you've got any money or time left, what with all the other craziness in the world, my beloved city is under about 10-feet of water and we could use a hand. Many thanks.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Nashville Flooding
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Scenes from Early in the Morning

On the one month anniversary of my new job, I would like to say that it is great.

But it has not been without its challenges.

Yesterday I had to read something titled, "Consequences of Misspecifications in Growth Curve and Other Multilevel Models."

So... yeah... there's that...

The main challenge though has been that I need to be at work at 7:30 in the morning.

For those of you out there who are naturally early risers, farmers, or have children, please commence your mocking now...

Done? Okay.

I am trying. So very hard. The good news is it causes amusing things to happen that make for excellent blog-fodder.

Scenes from Early in the Morning #1:

Know where a hard-boiled egg fits nicely?

A quaint and delicate egg cup.

A quaint and delicate egg cup (even though I don't own one) placed alongside a small plate with a piece of whole-wheat toast topped with preserves purchased from the farmers market and a beautiful glass of cranberry juice. All placed on the table in the kitchen so that you can gaze out the window at the morning awaiting you.

Know where else a hard-boiled egg also fits nicely?

That little zippered side pocket in your purse.

That little zippered side pocket in your purse where you toss it as you dash through the kitchen grabbing something that you can eat in the car or at your desk. This occurs after you have gone from the bedroom, to the home office and back to the bedroom looking for your cell phone only to remember you left it in the kitchen and before you trip out the door, leaving your coffee on the counter.

But really... the fact that I had the presence of mind to hard-boil a half-dozen eggs on Sunday and put them in a bowl in the refrigerator AND get a coffee maker with a timer on it so that it's already done when I get up is really quite an accomplishment in and of itself.

So I'm counting this as a win.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stuff You Probably Already Know But I'm Going to Use This Post to Ramble on About it Anyway

I now work for a very serious organization that does very important and serious things.
And we all just got Skype on our computers. Ooooh Lordeee, it's been all kinds of nerdy fun over here this week.

Tourism is an important part of the economy here in Nashville. But do we really have to have tourists? Especially the dude that asked me for directions with a cigarette barely balanced on his lower lip. WHILE I WAS PUMPING GAS. And the couple in front of me in line at the barbeque place who had to have a seven minute discussion with the guy behind the counter: "The sign says pork. Is it a pork chop? No? What kind of pork is it? Pulled pork? What does that mean?" And it's only April. From now until September it's only going to get exponentially more special each month. It's a good thing I don't work in PR for the visitor's bureau: "Welcome to Nashville. Now, please go sit quietly over there until it's time for you to leave."

The original Tea Party was about taxation without representation. So... to those in charge of this new concoction of the Tea Party... bless your hearts... please change your name. You HAVE representation. It's just that you aren't happy about it. And that's fine. Just please call yourselves the Red Bull or the Mountain Dew Party or something else more fitting.

NPR is awesome. Van Morrison is awesome. NPR's discussing Van Morrison for an hour is way beyond awesome. Our local affiliate just recently switched from playing coma-inducing classical music all day between ME and ATC (you know you're officially a dork when you refer to NPR programs by acronyms...) to an all-talk format: On Point, Talk of the Nation, Fresh Air, etc. You would not believe the complaining that people have done about it. I don't understand. I mean, did they not just hear what I heard? Talking about Van Morrison. And the way all of your insides feel when he growls out those lines like "And IIIIIII want to rock yourrrrr Gypsy sooooulll" or "Sheee's. As sweeeeet. Aaa-aas. Tupelo honeeeey." For a whole hour. Made my day. Can you tell?

God's grace and forgiveness applies to everyone. But I am having a really hard time wanting this to be true for certain despicable owners of coal mines and "parents" who return their adopted children.

Things still really suck in Haiti. And it's about to start raining. A lot. Please don't forget about them. If you've been wanting to give money but haven't - or if you want to give even more - click up there on the right.

Dixie Carter's death is a huge loss and I am sad. But, I bet my friend Eddie is pretty psyched.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring "Break" 2010

Many apologies for my bloggy absence.

It's been a busy spring.

  • First, I got a second job. More about that in a minute...
  • Then I've been trying to find homes for several pieces of furniture and a refrigerator that have been taking up valuable real estate in my living room and kitchen. The refrigerator, canIjusttellyou, was only just removed this past Friday. Yes, that is correct. This. Past. Friday. It's been sitting in the middle of the kitchen since this happened. Trust me, nothing makes a tiny kitchen feel even tinier with a second refrigerator IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FLOOR.
  • Then there was Lent and Palm Sunday and Holy Week and Easter and all the pomp and circumstance and time suckage (sorry, Jesus) that comes with it.
  • There was also the great health care debate, the rise of the Tea Party, and Sarah Palin coming back like a bad rash - so you know I've been pretty busy cleaning up every time that pesky head of mine explodes.
  • Sometime in there March Madness began, of course, and has consumed a vast amount of time. But what an amazingly great tournament it has been! I'm watching the final game as I write this and keeping the faith that Butler will pull through. My Ohio University Bobcats whipped Georgetown, but then had to play Tennessee. My Tennessee boys beat OU and then made it past the Sweet Sixteen for the first time - in school history - thanks to a nail-biter against Ohio State. They did lose a heart-breaker to Michigan State BUT the good news is I finished third in our basketball pool.
  • In the middle of all this was my birthday. Woo hoo! Or boo hoo. Depending on your perspective. The final year of my thirties has begun. Then again, much of my thirties has not been kind to my mental health, so maybe I should be happy to turn a new corner.

And speaking of turning a new corner...

  • That part time job I mentioned at the beginning of this post? It's now my new full time job! You're looking at a communications coordinator WITH health insurance. Medical, dental AND vision.

    That's right, I'm fancy.

    I would have taken this job just for the fact that I no longer also have to be the office manager / tech support / lackey / fixer of spreadsheets for crazy bitches for no additional money. The rest - like a 403(b), life insurance, tuition reimbursement, and more money for only doing one job - is merely gravy.

    I still work for a non-profit, but now it's one in education, not the environment. That part was a bit difficult, but I know it will be the right move in the long run. It also means you're going to have to endure a lot of tirades and ramblings about climate change, water conservation and polar bears and shit since I won't be using up brain cells on these things at work any more. (Not that I worked with or thought about polar bears much at my former job, but you know what I mean...)

So I hope your spring has been exciting as well. It's been 80+ degrees for the last four days and I completed the first yard mowing of the year today. I guess that means summer is on its way whether I like it or not.

Don't know about you, but I think I'm ready for a vacation.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

"Hey - is that snot on your sleeve and a laptop-shaped hole in your wall?"

Word to the wise... here are two very unfortunate combinations from Sunday evening that I wholeheartedly do not recommend:

1. A raging case of PMS, sinus meds, and a special on the 1980 U.S. hockey team.

2. A raging case of PMS, sinus meds, and attempting to hook up a new wireless router.

You're welcome.

Post update - apparently I sounded much more awful than was actually the case. It was just the perfect storm of circumstances that resulted in an evening of nostalgic weeping and then hair-pulling frustration. No computers were actually harmed. All is good. :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Presidents Day Photo Project

Old Man Winter still has a few tricks up the sleeves of his parka. We got another round of snow and are supposed to get a little more tonight. I would be enjoying my snow day even more if it weren't already a holiday in which I'd planned to be at home. Oh well. My agenda of sitting on my ass hasn't been inconvenienced all that much now that I think about, so I guess I'll live.

And, in honor of Abe and George, here's a few shots of Presidents Day from my neck of the woods.

1. My brother gave me a nice sweater that he didn't want anymore.

It's a woolly J Crew number that's too big and bulky for me to be wearing in public, but comes in handy when you're hanging out around the house on a Snow/Presidents Day. I have another sweater of this ilk but it is the last remaining item in the ex-boyfriend collection. It probably has too much bad chi to keep, but is something I haven't been able to part with because of its good, hanging-out-around-the-house qualities. Hopefully this new acquisition will get me one step closer to sending the it and its chi to Goodwill for them to deal with.

2. Nothing I enjoy more than a losing battle...

Me: "Off the couch. Off the couch. Off the couch. Off the couch. Off the couch."

Me: [leaves the office/den and then returns only a few moments later]

Me: "Seriously?!"

3. Hand-me-downs Continued.

In addition to inheriting a sweater, I also inherited a refrigerator from my mother. A real grown-up refrigerator with a door that seals all the way without having to smoosh the bottom corner shut with your foot. First order of business was NOT to transfer the food from the old refrigerator that is plugged into an extension cord and sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor. That's just crazy talk. No, it was to move the refrigerator magnets, photos and humorous whatnot.

You can give a girl a grown-up refrigerator,
but it doesn't mean she'll suddenly act like one.
A grown-up, that is, not a refrigerator...

Getting it in the house was an adventure. My brother and two friends (who fancy themselves my surrogate brothers) moved it for me on Saturday. During the week prior - and twice more the day of - I was asked by my mother, actual brother, one faux brother and my father if I had measured the refrigerator to make sure it would fit. I came to be a little agitated at all the asking. "You know, I'm not as dumb as I look," I said to actual brother. "Yes. I measured. You're the fourth person to ask," I said with a slight growl to faux brother.

And I had measured. Just not correctly it seems. And for some reason it never occurred to me to measure the doorway at my mother's house. I mean... just because their house was built a good 40 or 50 years before refrigerators were even invented, why should there be any problem with it fitting through the front door? Again, that's just crazy talk.

So the refrigerator and freezer door had to be removed and then the little bolts that attach the casters to the bottom got hung up on the storm door at my house and required two people to balance the refrigerator on one end while a third person squatted beneath the tipped up end to tighten up the bolts enough to get it through the door.

The brothers - both actual and faux - were none too amused.

Thankfully real brother got over it quickly - probably because our shared DNA causes him to create these situations as well.

The other two can be bought off with alcohol and banana pudding.

So we're all good for now, but I'll see what kind of problems I can stir up between now and Ash Wednesday.

Hope you enjoyed your Presidents Day!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Before it All Disappears

Now that our snow has turned from sled snow to snowman snow (I initially typed man snow, but then that sounded terribly odd...) I was reminded of one of my most favorite things in the world - Calvin and Hobbes and my stash of Calvin-building-snowmen comics.

Then I got to work and forgot.

Then I saw in the news where Calvin's creator, Bill Waterrson, gave a rare interview and I was reminded again. Which is a good thing because the snow will probably all be gone by tomorrow. Sad.

Until then:

Here is where I posted the comics before.

Here is the interview if you'd like to read it.

And here's to the groundhog who saw his shadow today - woo hoo! Hopefully this means we'll still get another round of snow before spring. Yes, I know I'm odd. Humor me.

Happy Groundhog's Day!

Monday, February 1, 2010

News of the Weird


A few inches even.

And then there was ice.

Then our infrastructure completely collapsed and everyone went sledding.

Well, the collapse of the infrastructure was a bit of an exaggeration... BUT I did try to go see a matinee movie on Saturday and the damn place was closed. CLOSED! Madness.

So we went to a little restaurant nearby on the off chance that it might be open- and lo and behold it was. Now I ask you. A tiny, locally-owned restaurant has enough supplies and employees who can get to work and bring out bread, make gumbo and pour large glasses of wine, but a ginormous movie theater - coughRegalCinemasHollywood27cough - can't scrounge up one person to turn on a projector and pour a Diet Coke? I mean, we even had our own cookies to smuggle in so we wouldn't have bothered them for snacks. Mercy.

Needless to say, after my wine and gumbo detour at 1:00 in the afternoon, I went home and was completely useless for the rest of the day. I did play with the dogs out in the snow. Elsie will root around in the snow. Then roll in the snow. Then run at top speed, stop short and shower Oliver in giant spray of snow. Oliver, however, will prance in the snow because his paws are cold. Then he will fling himself into the air and yelp when Elsie sprays him with snow. Then he will come and try to sit on my feet until I let him go back inside. Good times.

2. Blanche DuBois in Footie Pajamas

My niece started talking a lot more around Thanksgiving / Christmas. Cute little toddler-talk:
peeze (please)
bankit (blanket)
In the last couple of weeks though she's started stringing together more words but with a much more exaggerated Southern accent. Now, everyone in my family would sound like we have accents to anyone living anywhere else in the world, but compared to other Southerners, our accents are extremely mild. Somehow though (we think it must be one of her classmates or teachers) she's picked up this crazy drawl. It's like she's in some sort of Montessori preschool production of Streetcar:
Thee-uhs Du-ugh. My-y dawg. (This is Doug. My dog.)
Hay-elp (help)
Paynk (pink)
Puh-lay bawl? (Play ball?)
I babysat the other night and couldn't stop laughing. Totally hilarious.

3. Potato Bandit

Elsie is a bit of a thief. It's likely the herding dog in her. She mostly likes to steal socks or dish towels and usually ferrets them out through the dog door and then drops them into one of the holes in the yard. You know when she's stolen something because she tries not to be obvious and run through the house - but she's way too excited to be nonchalant and walk normally - so she does this quick little walk with tiny steps and rapid clicking of her toenails on the hardwood floors. Guests are often amazed when I have my back to her as she comes trotting through the living room, sock-in-mouth, and I loudly say "Elsie. Drop it." without ever turning around.

On Sunday I got up and made roasted red potatoes for a brunch later that morning. I came back from brunch and was talking to my mother on the phone when I heard an odd crunching noise coming from the bedroom. I went to check and there was Elsie, sprawled out on the floor with a raw red potato. She grasped it in her paws and nibbled it with her front teeth, then would ponder it briefly, turn it with her paws and continue nibbling. She finally noticed me staring at her, picked the potato up in her mouth and quickly trotted it outside, dropped it in a secure location and then came back in. I decided it wasn't worth putting on shoes and a coat to go out in the cold and chase down a half-eaten raw potato. I also reasoned that it couldn't have tasted all that great and therefore she wouldn't do it again.

Later that night I heard the same crunching noise and damn if she didn't have another whole potato. I went to the kitchen to see if she'd pulled the bag off the kitchen island and onto the floor, but the whole bag was gone. I turned on the outside light in the back and looked out into the snow-covered yard for signs of a mesh bag of red potatoes, but I didn't see anything. Not knowing how good it was for a 35-pound dog to eat at least part of two raw potatoes, I decided to take that one from her. She looked at me strangely, got up, trotted out the door and came back 30 seconds later with another brand new potato. Apparently there's a stash. And it's likely hidden in a hole under several socks and a dish towel. I took that one from her too and I'm going to check today and see if it's okay for her to eat raw potatoes. If so, I'll be tossing part of one into her bowl every now and then since she seems to enjoy it and it keeps her occupied for several minutes. Every time I think that dog can't get any more bizarre, she seems to find a way.

Friday, January 29, 2010

4. Some sort of pop culture babbling.

In my First Post of 2010 I listed off what had been running around in my head but wasn't actually getting posted. Number four was "Some sort of pop culture babbling." So, being one for always wanting to cross items off a list, I give you the top five week in review - pop culture edition. Hopefully I'll get around to my holiday recap sometime before Easter.

1. Found
You know what starts on Tuesday!? The final season of Lost! I can't wait! And yet I'm a little sad. It's kind of like the first day of my senior year of college. I couldn't wait for it because I knew I was in for a great ride, but I didn't want it to start because I knew it would be over all too soon. I just hope it paves the way for other television programming that is smart and complicated and doesn't involve elimination ceremonies, crime labs or Jay Leno. My fingers are crossed.

2. The universe, she is cruel.
The trailer for Robert Pattinson's new movie, Remember Me, is out. My first reaction as I started watching it? Yum. Soon after that? Argh! No! Make it stop! Why? Well, who would that be playing his father? Yeah, that would be Pierce Brosnan. And while my crush on "Remington Steele" ended many years ago, it's still pretty fresh in the ole memory bank. Does this officially make me middle-aged? It was hard enough when I noticed the dads in commercials were getting hotter, but it creeps me out a bit when both the dad AND the son are swoon-worthy. I need a drink...

3. Please excuse the bits of grey matter on my TV screen.
Have you noticed those beautifully edited and narrated commercials that tug at your heart strings while they tell you all about the integrity, nobility and environmentalism of the American Farmer? Oh wait, correction... the integrity, nobility and environmentalism of the American Farmer all thanks to MONSANTO!? Nothing on television has made my head want to explode more since those high fructose corn syrup ads from this summer or when one of our local news anchors responds to the frigid weather forecast with "What global warming?!" Anyway... you want to talk about how much Monsanto loves American Farmers? Or farmers anywhere in the world, for that matter? Click here and start reading. It's only a drop in the bucket.

4. "You know how picky I am about my shoes, and those just go on my feet."
There's a new adaptation of Emma that began on Masterpiece last Sunday. So far I like it, but I didn't care much for the BBC's Kate Beckinsale version or the Hollywood, Gwyneth Paltrow version (although Jeremey Northam makes a very nice Mr. Knightly) so we'll see if I make it through all three parts of this one. My problem with the others is that Emma was played as a spoiled, prissy, know-it-all who messes with everyone's lives because she feels superior and so she won't have to deal with her life. This new Emma is still very flawed - as she should be - and you still want to choke her, but then you want to hug her because she is genuinely well-intentioned (or as we say here, "she don't mean no harm.") Anyway... enough of indulging my inner English major - this is supposed to be about pop culture! Now, watch how quickly I revert! Because if we want to talk about the BEST adaptation of Emma - for me, it is Clueless. Absolutely no question.

5. "Oh, I love Jeff Gordon - he's the world's fastest Christian."
Which reminds me... I never mentioned how very sad I was - and still am - about Brittany Murphy. So tragic. She was such a quirky, talented girl. As Luanne Platter on "King of the Hill" or Tai in Clueless, she provided me with endless amounts of quotable joy and will be missed.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Questions Questions

The ever-lovely Emotional Mullet sent this my way and it looked like a fun way to start my morning. Feel free to answer them yourselves.

1. What is your occupation right now?
Lackey / Whipping Boy Communications coordinator for an environmental non-profit organization.

2. What color are your socks right now?
Dark blue with hints of tan and white dog hair

3. What are you listening to right now?

4. What was the last thing that you ate?
Leftover pizza

5. Can you drive a stick shift?
Yes. An automatic? Surprisingly not so well...

6. Last person you spoke to on the phone?
My goofy friend, Donnie.

7. Do you like the person who sent this to you?
I do, indeed.

8. How old are you today?
38 and 3/4. Eek.

9. What is your favorite sport to watch on TV?
College football. College basketball is a close second.

10. What is your favorite drink?
Caffienated: strong black coffee or Diet Coke; Alcoholic: Yazoo Dos Perros (local brew), Jack and ginger, gin and whatever; Healthy: pure cranberry juice and sparkling water or Naked juice - the green one (it's especially good if you've had too many selections from the alcohol list...)

11. Have you ever colored your hair?
Yes. It could use it right now, actually.

12. Do you like cake or brownies?
Either. I do like chocolate brownies better than chocolate cake. But there are few things better than carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.

13. What is the last movie you watched?
Avatar. Well... all but the last 15 minutes of Avatar because the big fancy computer that runs the IMAX broke down right before the end.

14. Favorite day of the year?
The peak of fall, whenever that happens to occur.

15. How do you vent anger?
Crying or avoiding it until I accidentally snap at someone I'm not angry with. If I'm being slightly more productive and healthy I will gripe about it to someone or write about it. I'm trying to be better about confronting the source directly, but sadly I'm an avoider. It sucks.

16. What was your favorite toy as a child?
My Winnie-the-Pooh. Record player. And we had a bunch of Star Wars stuff that was fun - I think the Millenium Falcon was my favorite.

17. What is your favorite season?

18. Cherries or Blueberries?

19. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back?
In general, or this list of questions? I didn't email this to them, but any email from them is always welcome. Unless it's a request to join the damn Facebook!

20. Who is most likely to respond?
Maybe Katie.

21. Who is least likely to respond?
Not sure.

22. Living situation?
Blueberry cottage in East Nashville with two heathen dogs.

23. When was the last time you cried?
One day last week when I was being a pissed-off avoider (see #15)

24. What is on the floor of your closet right now?
Ugly tile from the 50s. Boots and fancy shoes in clear plastic shoe boxes. Chucks, clogs and trainers in a pile. Laundry hamper. Tiny folding step stool. (This is all much more impressive if you know that my closet is 3' x 3 1/2').

25. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending this to?

26. What did you do last night?
Loaded and ran the dishwasher, cleaned off my desk, groomed two very uncooperative dogs (ears, nails, teeth and coats), did a little work while I watched "Castle," and then fell asleep on the couch watching reruns of "The Office."

27. What are you most afraid of?
What are we talking here? Clowns? Or, like, dying alone? Either way the list is endless and keeps the pharmacy at Target here in business...

28. Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers?

29. Favorite dog breed?

30. Favorite day of the week?
All have their merits, but I do enjoy my weekly Friday night dinner with friends and family and a pint or two of Dos Perros. Saturdays involving pancakes and/or college football are also good.

31. How many states have you lived in?
Technically three, but I was too young to remember one of them. Sorry, Kentucky.

32. Diamonds or pearls?
I wouldn't turn down either, but am partial to pearls.

33. What is your favorite flower?
Peonies and hydrangea. I also like a good daffodil or iris.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

...and the Trojan horse you rode in on

So. On the ride that has been the Big Orange Emotional Roller Coaster, let's recap:

Last year my beloved state's university hired a new head football coach. I took an instant disliking to him. Among other things, he was very young, mouthy, wore a sun visor, was rumored not to like the color orange and was married to a woman who went to Florida.

Yes, I know these are not legitimate reasons to dislike someone, but when combined with my gut instinct, these things didn't help. Being loyal to a fault, however, I vowed to get on board and at least be supportive.

That fall our team started out pretty shakily. But the coach said he was standing behind our quarterback, made some adjustments, and things started to turn around. I began to appreciate his methods and the new enthusiasm in the team.

The coach continued to be mouthy and was playing harder and faster with the rules than I was used to. I decided that I was maybe being too critical. Change is always hard and maybe his style wasn't bad - just different.

So I lightened up. And in the Vanderbilt game, when big, ole Wes Brown (arguably the sweetest, most dedicated player on our team at the end of his last home game ever) intercepted that pass and on two destroyed knees and with a Vanderbilt player clinging to him for dear life, lumbered into the end zone for a touchdown, the Tennessee bench erupted with pure joy and so did the coach. And that sealed it for me. He was our coach. He was officially a Tennessee man. (Brown's TD was, hands down, the greatest moment of the season - watch it here.)

And then it all changed. Last Tuesday night I came home to discover that the coach I had decided to like against my initial instincts and better judgement proved me wrong. Or right. Whichever.

Now, I'm all for people following their dreams. And apparently we weren't his dream job. Fine. For some reason coaching USC is his dream job. Fine. You do what you have to do. But when you do it - you need to try to appear that you have at least a tiny ounce of respect for the team and the school and the state that hired you and embraced you in spite of yourself. And, while we're at it, here's what you don't do:
  • You don't allow our players to find out from ESPN that you're leaving before you tell them.
  • You don't announce you're leaving in a 90-second press conference after the evening news so that you can slink out of town under the cover of darkness.
  • You don't show up to the press conference in a baggy golf shirt and shorts.
  • You don't allow your assistant coach to stand at the back of the room on his cell phone during your press conference and try to poach our new recruits.
  • You don't show up the next day for your new job at a big, live, fancy press conference - in a suit - and tell them that you really had no choice but to leave because our coaching job is "a top 15 job," but this new one is "a number 1 job."

Oh, but he did all of those things plus other devious and rodent-esque things that have come out since.

The silver lining is - as tends to happen in these situations - the worst behavior of a few has brought out the best behavior in many. Because being a team in the SEC is much like being a brother in a family of twelve large, unruly, brutish boys who are hell-bent on beating the crap out of each other all day. That is, until the bully from down the street tries to pick a fight with one of you. Reading the comments on the posts at my favorite Tennessee sports blog warmed my little orange heart:

(From a KY fan) "I hate it for you guys, honest.... you didn't deserve this."

"Gators Fan Here. I never liked Lane Kiffin at all, but this goes beyond the pale. I feel badly for you guys and can only hope karma kicks in sooner rather than later.

"From a Tide Fan: Good riddance to that egomaniac. Your school deserves a lot better than that."

"From a Dawg Fan... I am sorry for ya’ll. It’s a cold wind on Rocky Top tonight, but it will get better."

But the icing on the cake didn't come from the SEC. Surprisingly it came from the PAC-10. Turns out, there are many UCLA fans who have now sworn allegiance with the Volunteers. I think I'll be doing the same in return:

"A Bruin Fan here: Vol fans are some of the best opposing fans I’ve come across and I can’t believe you guys have to deal with this kind of spineless, soulless, gutless BS...You guys will bounce back and it’s going to be a joy to watch."

"From Bruin fan: Keep your chin up Vols!!! I admire your passion for your team. I was not able to travel to Knoxville for the UCLA/UT game but had many friends that did. They all had nothing but great things to say about TN. With that being said, you guys will be better off without Kiffin. Please join the BruinNation in enjoying kicking the crap out of USC and Kiffin!! Best of luck to you guys!"

And I have to admit - this one had me a bit verklempt:

"Let me first say that my family has a place in their heart for the wonderful hospitality of the Vol Nation when we visited Neyland stadium this past year.

Before, during and after the game we were blown away by the truly royal and gracious treatment we were given. From the Rocky Top welcome of the football team by the band and thousands of fans, to the zeal of Neyland stadium, to the unbelievable class of your fans in defeat, we could not get over the entire, wonderful, Tennessee experience. That’s what college football should be about, and you guys and gals are all class.

Just remember, you’re better off. He would have tainted your program forever. No doubt you will replace him with a better man very soon. Don’t worry about revenge. Leave that to us back here in Bruintown. It will be our pleasure. GO VOLS!"

So, Mr. Kiffin, I guess what it comes down to is this - if you don't want to be here, then we don't want you here. Eventually I hope to see it in such simple terms and can say it without grinding my teeth. Until that time comes... I hope you enjoyed our Southern Hospitality while it lasted. And I hope you enjoy your new job while it lasts.

But most of all, I hope you remember what you said at the beginning of last season - about how you couldn't wait until you got to hear "Rocky Top" all night long. Because I have a feeling the UCLA band is practicing it as we speak.



Friday, January 15, 2010

Zen and the Art of Jetta Maintenance

While I continue to wait for my seething anger to subside about suddenly-former and down-right weaselly UT football coaches, I thought I would attempt to regale you with a story. It sort of sums up how my life has been lately.

To set the scene: we had one helluva cold snap here over the holidays and into the new year. It eventually got so cold that I was too cold. And that never happens.

In addition to the cold, we also were expected to get the Blizzard of 2010 two weeks ago. Instead we received a mere dusting of snow that Wednesday night. It then drizzled rain all day Thursday and that, combined with an 8-degree night, meant that Friday all of our side streets were skating rinks.

I still thought it wouldn't be too bad since I only have four blocks or so before I get to a main road that would be clear. So I bundled up and started the Jetta and headed out. Unfortunately there was a wreck blocking my short trip to the main road and I had to turn in the other direction. The noise beneath my tires was making that scrapey, crunchy, tires-on-ice sound, but they were also spinning a bit. And, despite all the complaining I do about dear Jetta Who Will Not Be Named, there is one thing it does well and that is drive on snow and ice.

But alas it was early and my brain was foggy and since I was already in the car I kept going down a short hill and then tried to turn left. That's when I realized that the scrapey, crunchy noise wasn't tires-on-ice, it was FLAT tire-on-ice.

I then vaguely recalled the guy at the oil change place maybe telling me I might have a slow leak in my front right tire that I should maybe keep an eye on. I can't remember. I mean, really. I wasn't listening that closely to begin with and, well, it's been several weeks since then... But I stopped, got out, and wouldn't you know it, a week of below freezing weather and a slow leak in your tire equals one very, very flat tire.

I tired to turn around and drive it back to my house until the weather warmed up enough to fix it, but going back up the hill was not an option. So I parked the Jetta on the street and trudged home.

Saturday came and it warmed up above 20-degrees so I walked back down to the car intent on changing the tire myself. I had a couple of offers of help from friends and family, and/or their AAA service, but it was too frickin' cold outside to put someone through that when, had I used any common sense to begin with, I would not have been in this predicament in the first place. Plus, it had been a particularly demoralizing week at work and I really just needed to complete something - that had some degree of difficulty to it - with my own two hands and one brain and not be scrutinized or berated about it.

So, I arrived at the Jetta and proceeded to remove the cute little tire-changing kit from the trunk and my very impressive-looking full-sized spare and went to work. Lemme tell ya - it was a gigantic pain in the ass and it was SO COLD. But I was determined. I took off the crafty German-designed hubcap cover thingy (that I had to look up in the damn manual how to remove). I loosened the bolts. I got the car all jacked up and was starting to remove the bolts when an SUV stopped. Inside was a kindly-looking Good Samaritan in his mid-to-late 50's. He rolled down his window.

GS: You need some help?

Me: Thanks, but I'm okay.

GS: [laughs] I wasn't expecting that answer. Here, I'll give you a hand.

He pulls his car off to the side and gets out. Part of me is really annoyed that he just assumed I would let him take over and change the tire. The rest of me is freezing its ass off. GS kindly finishes removing the flat tire and puts on the spare. Which turns out to also be flat.

Me: Good grief.

GS: Well, I think it's enough to get you to the gas station at the end of the street.

Me: Okay. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate your help. Have a nice day.

We shake hands and exchange names. I then drive on my slightly deflated spare to the gas station's air thingy, which is, of course, out of order. I curse, look up, and then realize that GS has followed me to the gas station.

GS: Is it out of order?

Me: Yes.

GS: Aw, man. Do you want to try the next gas station up the street?

Me: Sure.

I take off and he kindly follows behind me with his hazards on. We get to the next gas station's air thingy. Also out of order. I curse, smack my hand on the steering wheel and prepare to head down the street to the next station on what I'm sure is now a much more than a slightly-deflated spare.

GS: That one's out of order too?! Are you kidding me?!

Me: I know! Can you believe it?!

GS: I've got a buddy that works at the used tire place just up on the other side of the street if you want to go there.

Me: Okay! Thanks!

So we head up the street a short bit and turn into the tire place. GS goes inside for a moment and then emerges with a moderately scary looking dude named Mike with a cigarette dangling from his lip. He walks past me, mutters something I don't understand and then crouches down beside the car to find the leak in the spare. He finds it and goes about fixing it. I start to chat with GS again.

Me: Thank you so much - I really appreciate your help. But it's cold and I'm sure you have other things to do so please don't feel like you have to stay here.

GS: It's no problem.

Long pause.

GS: You married?

Me [to myself]: Who asks that question when they first meet someone?

Me [aloud]: No.

GS: Kids?

Me: Um. No.

Mike: It's fixed.

He then gestures gruffly to me to open the trunk. I hope it's because he wants me to get the flat tire out of it so he can fix that as well and not because he plans to knock me in the head and put me in it. But I decide to take my chances and quickly open the trunk. He pulls out the flat tire, fills it with air and then points to where I can hear air escaping from a little worn area in the side wall.

Mike: You need a new tire.

Me: How much?

Mike: Cash?

Me: Yes.

Mike: $27.50.

Me: Sounds good.

Mike leaves with my flat tire and mutters something to some other scary-looking dudes with cigarettes dangling from their lips. They look up at me, mutter back to him, and then take my tire inside.

Me [to GS]: Again - thank you. You've been very nice, but I'm fine now, I don't want to keep you.

GS: So you're not married?

Me [light bulb FINALLY goes off over my head]: Oh. Uh. No.

No-So-Good Samaritan proceeds to try and make small talk and no matter how many times I mention that he doesn't need to stay - HE WON'T LEAVE. I become annoyed. And am freezing. I reach into my pocket and pull out my phone and start to text one of my gays: "Plz come get me @ tire store by CVS. BTW - try to look big & scary when u get here."

NSGS: So are you single?

Me [finally with my wits about me]: No!

NSGS: Boyfriend?

Me: Yep.

I then cringe internally because I know the next questions will be "Well, if you have a boyfriend, why wasn't he out there changing your tire?" and because I know that if I do have to resort to calling in backup I will never, ever, ever be allowed to live down this little ordeal. Having Mike knock me in the head and put me in the trunk does not sound like such a bad alternative at the moment...

NSGS: Well, Mike will be finished in a minute so I guess I'll head on.

Me [internally]: Praise Jesus.

Me: Okay. Well, thanks again. Have a good weekend.

NSGS leaves and Mike returns shortly with a new tire. Well, a new used tire. And shoves a bill at me with $27.50 scribbled on it. I hand him two twenty dollar bills and he grumbles (dude, you just asked if I had cash - not if I had exact change. Let it go!). He digs around in his pocket and comes up with change. And then hands me the tire. I realize that $27.50 only covers parts. Not installation.

So I drive back to my house on my fully-inflated spare and then spend the next 30 minutes continuing to freeze my ass off while I change the tire in my driveway. Happily. Alone.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

First Post of 2010

I've been mulling different posts around in my head for a couple of weeks now, but as of yet I obviously haven't gotten down to the business of writing them. To date, the list includes:

1. The Top Five Review of all of the chaos and festivities of the holidays.

2. The list of new year's resolutions that will inevitably not be followed much past Ground Hog's Day.

3. A manifesto about the state of my job and my boss' ridiculous behavior that I'm sure would end with me stating that I should just suck it up, be thankful I have a job at all and then proceed with me continuing in the same crappy state of mind for another six months.

4. Some sort of pop culture babbling.

5. Several posts about the crazy-assed goings on with my state's football and men's basketball teams. Most notably and arguably the most crazy-assed being last night's development that - just beware - I will most certainly be ranting about in the near future. For now I will only repeat what I have been muttering to myself since about 10:30 last night: Youhavegottobekiddingmeyouunfuckingbelievablesonofabitch.

But, after a brief reality check, I decided that instead of writing about any of these things right now I am only going to post links to where money can be donated to relief efforts in Haiti.

A moment ago I channelled the effort I was exerting with my cursing into donating to Episcopal Relief and Development. For what its worth, ERD doesn't go to other countries to proselytize or baptise anyone. They provide disaster relief and support existing organizations and efforts within communities that are already doing good things with regard to clean water, sustainable agriculture, education and so on.

If you are looking for a place to donate and don't want to be churchy about it, Treehugger had a post today that listed other reputable organizations already working in Haiti who also have an environmental focus:

Architecture for Humanity: helps to design and build safe and clean living structures in developing countries that also protect the resources of the communities. They are taking donations now to help provide shelter for earthquake victims in Haiti.

The Lambi Fund of Haiti: works for economic justice and sustainable development in Haiti through community water projects, reforestation, mico-credit lending for entrepreneurs, and food security for the poor.