Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Snowpocalypse

So Seattle's been experiencing a bit of a weather anomaly the past week or so. It's been snowing here. A lot. And the snow has stuck around. This effectively has shut the city down. Buses either run really truncated routes or just stop running altogether. People either leave their snowed-in cars alone and walk, or they take their cars out and drive, for the most part, stupidly and carelessly. The city of Seattle, of course, refuses to take any responsibility for the fact that its snow response is woefully inadequate. That's actually boring to me at this point. It's snowed, I think, every winter here for the past 4 years. Even if it's a little bit of snow that only sticks for an hour, it wreaks havoc here. Different degrees of havoc, sure, but havoc nonetheless.

Currently, the falling snow is turning to rain and everything's becoming slushy and sloshy. I was joking with someone earlier today that the Snowpocalypse, as some have been calling it here, will soon be turning into a Slushpocalypse, then a Floodpocalypse. I wanted to get outside and take pictures of all the snowmen people have built in my neighborhood, but I stupidly walked to and from work on Monday and re-injured my sprained foot and have been housebound all day. But it would have been an awesome post. There were amazing snowmen all around, from the little guys my 6-year old next door neighbors made (twins, like them, and about the same height as them) to the terrifying, 7-foot snowman just down the street. The snowman grimaced, as though he were in terrible pain. And across his chest was scrawled "Merry Christmas Everyone!". I think they used red food coloring, but really? It looked like blood. I am pretty sure the people who built the snowman didn't mean for him to be so horrifying, but the thing is close enough to the sidewalk that I've noticed people give it a twice-over and then alter their path to give the snowman a wider berth.

So in lieu of the sweet documentation of now-melting snowmen (I wonder if the scary one is melting red? Creepy!) I offer you a link to this excellent website. Coldtastrophe, indeed.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Headed Home

Tomorrow morning we head home to Illinois for a little more than a week. Nearly all of that time will be spent in central IL, seeing Aa's family (especially his grandparents). It's always fun to go home, and this year I've been home way more than usual (a partial explanation of why most of my friends and family will be getting not a gee dee thing from me this Christmas - because I'm broke. Um, happy holidays!! If you live in Seattle I'll probably end up baking you some cookies anydamnway). But I must admit I feel a little tingle of excitement to be headed back to the state that gave us this: "I've got this thing," ... "and it's [expletive] golden. And I'm just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing. I'm not going to do it." Oh, Rod, Rod, Rod. I actually meant to print out the full 74-page affadavit so I could read it on the plane, but our printer sucks so I'm not going to.

I kind of can't believe this story just broke yesterday. It feels like it happened so much longer ago! This could, of course, be because I have been following this story obsessively since it broke. I can't help it! It's like they added another season of The Wire, only IT'S HAPPENING IN MY HOME STATE. I mean, yes, it's definitely awful and god, what a fucking idiot to have a CONFERENCE CALL about trying to sell Obama's old Senate seat. And, boy, what a great example of Democratic corruption Republicans now have to point at. I know all of these things. Deeply ugly. But, I'm sorry, it's really entertaining too. Would I feel different if I lived in Illinois? I don't think so. I think when someone falls as hard and as stupidly as Blagojevich is falling, you kind of can't help but laugh, even if you feel bad. It's like watching someone take a bad spill on the street. It hurts, for sure. But later, when you're home and you're thinking about that crazy slapstick-looking fall you saw that poor sap take? You're gonna laugh.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

zackmas time


and he's watching you.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

No, I don't just look for videos of dogs doing funny things all day.

But I can understand why you'd think that.

(wait until around 29 seconds in!!)




Via Dooce.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Portions, Age, and Heat: How i learned to recook the thanksgiving's of my youth


Grandma Starkey (see earlier post for her on rowboat), as she got older, would unknowingly, increase the size of some ingredients in dishes as it became harder for her to see/read things with a high degree of granularity.

On one occasion, this included a pumpkin pie with whole cloves in the mix instead of ground cloves. it was a treasure hunt to eat the pie and pick out the cloves without letting her see you were doing it (she could still see well enough to scold!)...if you missed one of those little nuggets of pain, you had a big hot and spicy surprise in your mouth as punishment. These thanksgivings though, when everyone was still around and alive, are always in my mind every year when I go to cook my own thanksgiving meal. It is a continuum.

Growing up in the midwest, thanksgiving food was always a bit cold, bland and ill timed. Then again, almost all central Illinois food was (is...) always kinda like that....

Anyway, i digress...when Jeannie and I moved to Seattle in 2001, I was sick for two weeks and we were living in crappy corporate housing right near pike place market and i watched the food channel for two weeks straight. (didn't waste money on cable when we lived in Chicago.) A connection was made and it started with seeing all of the crabs at the market...and watching Emirll...i wanted to make crab cakes! (it's still an obsession of mine.)

Fast forward to our first thanksgiving in Seattle later that same year...many crab cakes later. Remember, we knew no one when we moved here...zero friends. But as the year progressed we slowly made connections with a few people, and being that we weren't near our families, we decided to have thanksgiving at our house and invite all of the people that we knew up to that time...which was about 8 people. Inspired by my new found love of making things that i actually wanted to eat...I took it upon myself to create the most perfect of all thanksgiving meals and correct the errors and missteps of the past.

Hot food, timed perfectly, delicious turkey, and real mashed potatoes like i'd seen on TV.

So...that year, i brined a turkey (i'd never even roasted a chicken before) for the first time, bought a couple of used crock pots, small chaffer from the restaurant supply store and proceeded to kick the shit out of myself for two days trying to get everything perfect for our 8 guests. I was exhausted...i used crappy pans, a dull knife, just bad tools...but it all worked. everything was hot, nothing was gummy, there was no jello in the cranberries (not judging!...just wanted to try the real thing!), the sweet potatoes were beautiful, the roasted pumpkin and mushroom soup i'd been reducing for over a day was thick and beautiful..i'd never had soup like that before. I was also wiped out, my legs were killing me, i'd burned my hand in more than one place, sliced my thumb ,and was generally beat down just like the potatoes (although i used a ricer for those)

But the food was awesome (at least that's what they said to my face...) And thus a tradition was started. Since then, every year, we have invited our old friends and new friends to our house to eat dinner and to watch me stress out as I throw down the hardest things I can muster to cook, with the best ingredients I can find. i have wised up a bit though and i do ask people to bring certain things...but every year i also try and find new ways and new recipes and new techniques so that i can experience the exhilaration of doing something i've never done before by creating a meal that our friends (our guest list has more than doubled in size) will walk away thinking that it was the best thanksgiving meal they've ever had.

And the food is always hot and the cloves are ALWAYS removed from the pumpkin pie, when we have it...I, myself, prefer pecan or macadamia nut pie...)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

GIANT, ELBOW-HAVING SQUID!



From this post from National Geographic's website. Yes, it seems a little weird / sad / unsettling that this video was captured by a Shell Oil robot, since Shell owns that part of the Gulf of Mexico. Yes, it totally looks like the big guy is fishing. Yes, HE TOTALLY LOOKS LIKE A SPACE ALIEN. Yes, it is really kind of neat that this video was sent out via email from Shell Oil employee to Shell Oil employee. I really like my job, but I never get work-related email like this.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Guess I'll be making skull-OPS for dinner then

Sunday night Aa, our friends R & H, and I went to dinner at Poppy, one of the new restaurants here in Seattle that's been getting a lot of attention. (The chef-owner was head chef at the dizzyingly expensive Herbfarm for several years, and garnered just tons of foodie praise during that time.) It was a meal I'd been looking forward to for a while. And the food was really kind of amazing, like the culinary version of seeing a technically perfect gymnastics routine in the Olympics. Flawless, but kind of sterile. It kind of felt like the food came out of a very clinical kitchen. And the restaurant felt weirdly clinical too. Our main waitress lady talked to us like we were kids and she was our teacher. People kept trying to take H's food away before she was done eating. All in all, I don't know if I'd go back.

But the thing that sticks with me is this odd discussion we had with the runner who dropped our food off. She explained what each little dish was as she came to it. And one dish had shallots in it. Her description: "...and this is the black cod with fried shul-LOTS and peanuts..." At which point everyone at the table started looking confused. Shul-LOT? What the hell is a shul-LOT? One of us, I can't remember who, asked "Is it really prounounced "shul-LOT"? Someone else piped up: "yeah, I always thought it was "SHALL-uht". The runner looked at all of us. "Uh, no. It's shul-LOT. That's how we all say it here." In saying that, it was clear she meant "that's how our superstar chef guy, the reason you're probably here, says it. There's no way he's wrong and you all are right." We were all silent for a moment, until one of us said something like, "well, you learn something new every day!". Then we all chuckled and the runner went away. We mumbled amongst ourselves ("that can't be right"; "seriously? Shul-LOT?") and then went on with our dinner.

For some reason, four days later I am still thinking about this. I mean, I worked in restaurants before, and I can imagine the kitchen staff deciding to mess with the cute, naive young runner. "Yup, it's definitely shul-LOT. Everyone knows that. All serious chefs pronounce it that way." Which makes me feel a twinge of compassion for the young woman. But I think what sticks with me is not how funny that interchange should have been, or should be in my memory (because, shul-LOT? That's funny. It's like saying I had len-TEEL soup for lunch today or something). It's the snootyish certainty the young woman had when she explained the right way to say shallot. I mean, if you look it up it turns out you can say it both ways, but who do you know who says shul-LOT? Thinking about how and why the runner felt so certain about her pronunciation does make the memory sort of funny, and that makes me feel even worse for her...at some point she will realize she sounds like a crazy person when she says shul-LOT. And that singular exchange won't keep me from going back to Poppy. Probably it's the rest of it, the weird hermetically-sealed-clinical-technical-perfection part of it. I like my food with a little feeling, I guess. Kind of slop-PEE.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

all i have to say...

All i have to say is that Zack's new name, at least for the remainder of the week is "Stoney".

Stoney the Basenji.

yeah.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bad Day

This morning, after my shower, I headed into the kitchen to grab my coffee and toast. There, on the floor, was a plastic bag with a bunch of pearl onions Aa'd bought the day before. Zack had clearly taken a couple of big bites out of the plastic bag (he chews plastic when he's worked up about something). What I couldn't tell, though, was whether he'd eaten any onions. Onions, along with garlic, grapes, chocolate, and caffeine, are toxic to dogs. With onions, there is some sort of chemical thingie that happens that basically makes their red blood cells fall apart. The loose hemoglobin eventually causes kidney failure.

I called my vet to tell her what happened. I expected her to tell me that I should watch him for signs of toxicity (the first of which are sluggishness and disinterest, which is basically what Zack is like every morning anyway). Instead, she told me to bring him in immediately so they could induce vomiting. Aa was unreachable, and he had the car. I called a cab, grabbed the Zacker, and headed to the vet. They checked him in around 11 am and asked me to "stay close". So I spent the next 3.5 hours wandering aimlessly around the neighborhood near our vet's office. It was really strange to just walk around, not knowing how my dog was doing, and not knowing what to expect next. I mean, I wasn't even sure if he'd eaten any of the damn onions. But clearly it was serious enough for my vet to want to take immediate action.

Around 2:30, my vet called. They'd used morphine and a water flush to try and get him to puke - no dice. Zack was just refusing to throw up. We needed to decide whether we were going to take him to an animal ER to have his stomach pumped, or if we just wanted to give him some activated charcoal to help move whatever toxins he'd might have ingested through his body. I called Aa and updated him, and he left work to come meet me at the vet. It was then that he asked me if I'd counted the number of onions left over. No, of course I hadn't. My first thought was whether our dog was going to die from onion poisoning.

We picked up our totally high-on-morphine dog after asking the vet to give him activated charcoal as a precaution. The poor guy could barely stand up, and he was leaking black liquid out of his butt. "It's kind of like Ex-Lax", the vet explained, as she handed us some pads and garbage bags to line the car interior. We went home to count some onions and try to devise a method of diapering our dog. As we got in the car, Zack started leaking more aggressively while trying to lay down in the grass. Aa looked at me and asked if I was sure about wanting kids.

So it turns out that Zack ate either no onions at all or a very tiny bit of onion. I can't tell if I overreacted or did exactly the right thing or what. The vet's response made me think I responded the right way. But if I'd dug the grocery store receipt out of the recycling and weighed the onions before calling the vet, I would have known Zack was going to be fine, thus saving Aa and me a day of worry. And, it should be mentioned, saving Zack an afternoon of morphine and charcoal and leaky black butt and Pampers (I totally did diaper him for a couple of hours there). I'm so, so glad he's fine, but I am a little mad at myself that I didn't think about trying another means of verifying whether he ate any onions this morning. So I guess I learned a lesson today? Or something?

Did I mention I got a new library card today? There's a library right by my vet's office. I spent a lot of time there today. That was cool.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Dispatch from Chicago

  1. This morning, in the Barnes and Noble (where I was wasting time while my parents watched football, that's right I just don't care about the Bears anymore DISOWN ME NOW HOME CITY I JUST DON'T CARE), the four people in line before me all wanted help finding something with Barack Obama on the cover. Three people were looking for the Sun-Times; they were all sold out. The people all had clearly disappointed children with them, who were told, "Don't worry. We'll keep looking!". The fourth person, a man without children, was looking for The Economist. It was also sold out. When I got up to the counter, I asked why The Economist was sold out. The clerk said, "It had Barack on the cover. I sold the last one last night. We're also sold out of the New York Times, Newsweek, Time Magazine, and Us Weekly. They all had Barack on the cover too."
  2. Everyone here calls him Barack. Not Barack Obama, or Obama, like I hear in Seattle. Barack.
  3. Monday and Tuesday it was in the 70's here. Today it started snowing at Soldier Field.
  4. Yesterday was my sister's baby shower. She got so much stuff (admittedly much of it from my mom and me) her Subaru wagon deal couldn't fit it all. Babies apparently need a mind-numbing amount of things.
  5. I have eaten cookies at least twice a day every day since I got here. Paul, Liz, I blame you. It's super easy for my jeans to magically get tighter when I'm home, but you guys are absolute experts at compounding that danger.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

President Obama.

President Barack Obama. About goddamn time.

Watching, Waiting

I'm home, listening (of course) to NPR's coverage of the election results and (of course!) drinking a split shot Americano. Earlier I took my dog for a walk. He was wearing his little orange fleece (OF COURSE). So far NPR (and CNN, which the NYT is blogging) is calling Vermont for Obama and Kentucky for McCain. This isn't super surprising. Also, our hardly-ever-used land line has been ringing like crazy the past few days with robo-calls and volunteer calls. Which, I appreciate the effort, but I am not the person you need to talk to here! My mind is so made up.

Voting today was actually pretty fun. It's the last time I'll be able to go to an actual polling place in my county; next election, we're switching entirely to mail-in ballots, like much of the rest of the state. My polling place was a grade school, and I got there just as school let out. Bouncy, shrieky children were everywhere - I remember that energy of finally being done with the school day and NOT HAVING TO SIT IN A DESK ANYMORE. I was surrounded by that elated energy as I went to vote, which felt pretty neat and celebratory. There was a bake sale in the hallway on the way into the voting booths. You had to walk past the yummy baked goods TWICE, on your way in and on your way out. Diabolically clever. I totally bought a cookie.

Dude, Elizabeth Dole might lose her Senate seat? Wow.

OK! Going to our friend W's house. More later. I have champagne. Which I will be drinking no matter what.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Zack's Revenge

And with good reason. Two years ago, we made him dress up like a lobster. This year, we decided to do it again.



He managed to let us know in no unequivocal terms how displeased he was at this. Aa and I turned our backs for about three seconds. And in that time, Zack chewed off one of the lobster arms. I turned around and he was simultaneously trying to rip the costume off his body and eat the lobster leg he'd chewed off his costume. See how bad he wants to eat that lobster leg?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lessons I Apparently Haven't Learned Yet

  • Eating a bunch of candy right before bed is a stupid thing to do, especially if I expect to fall asleep at a reasonable hour.
  • If, while running, part of my body begins to hurt and then continues to hurt, with ever-increasing intensity of pain, I NEED TO STOP RUNNING.
  • The house will be clean, and the house will be dirty. And when the house is dirty, it is possible to change that by action. It is not possible to change that by freaking out about how fucking dirty the house is.
  • I don't always need to know what I'm doing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Not much.

There hasn't been much for me to say this past week or so. I feel like both Aa and I have been just ridiculously busy lately. I'm getting a little stressed about how to deal with Christmas, but this is nothing unusual. Aa made some beautiful homemade pizza for dinner tonight. I am concerned about all the things I need to get done this week.

Currently, we're watching a deeply stupid movie called The Contract. It's the second John Cusack vehicle we've tried to watch tonight - the first was War, Inc. I want to know what the eff happened to John Cusack actually. Say Anything? Grosse Pointe Blank? These were awesome movies. He was awesome in them. I don't think he's done anything good since Grosse Pointe Blank. Wait, I guess High Fidelity was in there, which seemed to be a well-liked movie. But that film just made me uncomfortable. The arc of "man-child pulls his head out of his ass a teeny, tiny bit" was just not interesting. It was both interesting and weird to see many of my old stomping grounds in Chicago featured in the movie. And now I can appreciate some things about it, but overall? There are still moments in that movie that make me feel embarrassed and uncomfortable. Oh John Cusack, you have broken my heart.

Alright. Time to go to bed.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Six entirely unrelated things

1. I need more sleep. Right now I'm watching the end of Victor, Victoria, a movie I've seen approximately 15 bajillion times, and I'm tearing up.

2. Our friend Lynn told me this great story about the post-wedding ceremony dinner. The food was coming out, and all of the different salad dressings were in plastic containers. One was white and had a B on the cover. Lynn was standing near my Uncle Jim and said, "oh, that must be blue cheese". And my Uncle Jim, totally deadpan, said, "no, B is for bacteria". This has made me laugh every time I think about it.

3. I pretty much destroyed my kitchen making a ton of stir-fried carrot and cabbage salad and roasted veggies for an enchilada sauce. There's just a bunch of stuff I need to clean up. All my stupid dog is doing is sleeping next to me on the couch, looking all cute. I have tried time and time again to train him to at least load the effing dishwasher. All he does is stare at me.

3a. All the veggies in the carrot salad and roasted veggie sauce came either from our farmer's market or our backyard. Except the garlic - that came from Garrick's farm.

4. I can eat way more donuts in a week than I thought I could, especially if I tell myself that because they're vegan they're somehow good for me.

5. I had a crazy dream about Omar from the wire and the Catholic church / school I went to as a kid. I'll get into that later.

6. I am tired, tired, tired.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

More wedding photos







You can view the full set here. Michael, our friend and photographer, did a fantastic job. Yay!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Shock

I just found out that a friend of mine from college was killed in Afghanistan Monday. It was, I think, his third tour over there. I just heard from him like two weeks ago. He wrote to congratulate me on the wedding and asked me to post pictures he could look at afterward. I asked him to send me a mailing address. I was so glad to hear from him I wanted to make sure we stayed in touch. And I really wanted to bake him some cookies and send them to him. Wanting to bake cookies and then send them to Afghanistan seems incredibly naive right now. Like he was in summer camp in Michigan or something.

I remember when my friend Gina told me he'd joined the army in the first place. He'd just been divorced. And when I saw him, he told me the army was a great place to channel his anger over the breakup. But he also discovered he was good at being a soldier. He liked the structure and the challenge. He knew he could become an officer too. When I last saw him, we were at Gina's mom's wake. He was dressed in his formal uniform. He looked wonderful, and I was so glad to see him. He was still pretty much the same guy I knew in college - funny, sarcastic, sharp as hell, but really sweet and generous. I still felt like I'd achieved something notable when I made him laugh hard, which was probably one of my favorite feelings in college too. I say all this because I remember not being able to understand the commitment he'd made to the army in the first place. It seemed like a thoroughly alien decision to me. I remember thinking he must just be going through a phase of some kind, not a career or lifestyle choice. But this was years ago. Clearly the army was not a phase.

Over the past few years, I have read a lot about the US involvement in Afghanistan, and talked to countless reporters and policy wonks about it. Definitely a lot of that was for work. But it was also in some ways because of him. I was both terrified for him and grateful to him - that this awesome guy I remember from college was one of the people in Afghanistan. He was not fucking that country up. He was making it better. I know that sounds super naive too. But he was a good, reasonable guy. Even when he sometimes made crazy arguments when we talked politics, I thought he was a reasonable guy. He always thought about things. He rarely just reacted.

I'll never understand why he joined the army. But the army must have done something for him. It must have been good for him. And for that, I'm glad. I want to believe in what he was doing because he clearly believed in it. But I'm awfully angry that he's gone. I'm so pissed I never got to send him those stupid cookies. I'm so pissed I won't ever get to try and make him laugh again. I just feel really heavy and foggy. But I am also really happy I got to know him at all. He was funny and weird and a good person to argue with. And I missed him before and I miss him now.


Fallen GI loved life in military

Soldier from Highland killed by blast in Afghanistan

Officially Weddinged


Here's one of the many pictures our amazing friend / photographer Michael took the day of the wedding. It all turned out to be really, really fun...more fun and way less stress than I'd expected. The ceremony felt exactly right (not too fussy, really authentic, and short!). My Aunt Lois called to tell me my Grandma Yandel keeps talking about how much fun she had, which was HUGE for me. I was so nervous that traveling to central IL from Chicago and being carried up and down stairs in her wheelchair would just be too much for her, and she wouldn't enjoy herself. I loved the whole thing. I only wish time travel had been invented so Post Wedding Jeannie could have visited Pre Wedding Jeannie to tell her to calm the eff down because everything was going to be awesome.

The Chicago party was also fantastic - I kind of don't have words to describe how truly touching and excellent it was to have so many people from so many parts of our lives come together on Saturday night. Everywhere I turned, there was someone I wanted to hug and talk to. And I could look across the room and see Aa doing the same thing - hugging people, laughing, catching up. Friends from Seattle made a point of meeting my family, which I particularly loved. Paul and Liz brought amazing cookies that basically fueled me the whole night. I know both my sister and my Uncle Terry took a bunch of cookies home. I think Amanda (the amazing, generous friend who made my wedding dress) did too.

Aa and I decided to get weddinged in the first place so we could see and spend time with the people we love. It's why we chose to have the wedding and party in Illinois. And looking around on Thursday night after the wedding and Saturday night mid-party, I realized we got exactly what we wanted. We spent days surrounded by people we love and don't ever get to spend enough time with - that definitely includes our Seattle friends. Everything was perfect. I've never felt so lucky in my life.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Vote for Jeannie!

Jeannie is in the running for the King5 best local radio personality...make the dream a reality!

go here to vote:
http://best.king5.com/contests/best-of-western-washington/2336/people/local-radio-personality

she did not ask me to post this...but how could i not?!

*Update from Jeannie: No, I did not ask him to post this. Weird.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

DFW

yet another David Foster Wallace post...

In the late 90's I took one class with him at ISU. I talked my way into the class as i already had my undergrad and was spending a year taking only classes that i was really interested in...and he was teaching a class on the postmodern novel...he was kind enough to listen to my appeal and let me into a grad level english class that i had no business being in at that time.

But what a class! We read gaddis, delillo, cormac mccarthy, etc. To be honest, i just couldn't read through all of the gaddis, i love the delillo stuff, and mccarthy was kinda depressing. But that said, it was the most engaging class! The discussions transcended the conventional borders of any English classes i had previously experienced. Deep discussions that circled in and around math, science, history, rhetoric, and more. Truly educational.

On my final paper he drew the "style faerie"....and throughout my paper the "SF" pointed out every stupid grammatical mistake that i made...and believe me..i made a LOT of them.

I dug that paper up last night to read his comments...I can't believe that i handed in something as poorly written as i did to someone like him..someone that was that good at what they did. Someone that insightful. Someone in such deep and fantastic control of language and ideas. In the end i did fine on the paper and the class but i always felt bad about not proofing that paper. It was disrespectful to his craft.

P.S. He was also the first person i'd ever seen chew tobacco.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Well, that went well.

I just had a cup of coffee. I had to. I hated everybody. Now I love everyone again.

In response to the vampire anxiety dream

I'm gonna try to go off coffee till after the wedding. Nothing but tea for princess here. Today is Day 1, and I'm exactly as grumpy as you'd expect. I'm taking it one day at a time - we'll see how long I last.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Anxiety Dreams

Last night I had my first anxiety dream about the wedding. I don't remember much about the beginning of the dream except for an overall sense of nervousness. I was with a large group of people. We were all on the roof of a hotel, having a party that I know had to do with the wedding. Then the vampires showed up. They were dressed like gothy pirates (thank you, Anne Rice / Milli Vanilli!) And they started eating my guests. Very awkward. Now, I've chronicled my obsession w/ Buffy the Vampire Slayer here before. I know how to handle vampires. So I grabbed what I thought was a wooden stake and drove it into Vanilli's heart. Guess what? The stake wasn't wooden. It was plastic with some kind of veneer. So I headed out to the hallways of the hotel. Suddenly my sister appeared and we started dismantling / unscrewing furniture for wood. (I actually remember unscrewing a chair leg and throwing a washer over my shoulder thinking, "that won't help me kill vampires".) Then we headed back in to the party. I started stabbing vampires in the chest with my wooden stakes, many of which had long metal screws on top from being chair legs. This meant I had to drive the stakes even *further* into the hearts of the gothy pirate vampires. It was not going well. I was really just angering the vampires. It was quickly turning into an awful party.

Then I woke up, and my first thought upon waking was, "why the hell weren't those wooden stakes working?" I felt anxious. That feeling of anxiety stayed with me most of the day. In fact Aa even noticed it and asked me what I was so tense about. I couldn't really tell him it was the vampires. I'd sound crazy, right? So instead, I'm writing this post for you, Interwebs.

Now I feel better.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Neighborhood! Coffee! Shop! Or, The Minutiae Of A Totally First-World Problem

So, Aa and I looooove the Minty and we really like living so close to downtown Ballard. But one of the things we've desperately missed is a neighborhood coffee shop. See, in our last apartment we lived right across the street from this miraculous place called Lighthouse Coffee. It's a great coffee shop, sure, but the place also roasts their own beans. RIGHT. IN. THE. STORE. OK? So my neighborhood smelled like fresh-roasted coffee, and the espresso is holy shit delicious, arguably the best in Seattle. (yes, yes, I know: Vivace. Unclench. I said "arguably", alright?)

Anyway. So, upon moving away from the warm embrace of Lighthouse, Aa and I have longed for a right-down-the-street place to get a good Americano. On weekends, we'll take the Zacker and walk up to Bambino, which I will always heart because they allow dogs inside and have dog treats available. This is niiiiice, but it's not a weekday kind of niiiiice.

So it's been with much anticipation that Aa and I have watched the transformation of a little storefront less than a block from our house. I even changed my walking-home-from-the-bus route so I could stop and peer inside to gauge progress. We heard many rumors about the place, including, at one point, that it would serve waffles. Which, you know, OK. But I could never get the answer to the important question: WOULD THEY SERVE GOOD COFFEE, meaning WOULD THEY HAVE A DECENT ESPRESSO MACHINE AND COULD THEIR BARISTAS PULL A DECENT SHOT? (I cringe as I type this, I want you to know. I am aware that I sound like a supreme asshole, and the cap letters don't help. But I'm not gonna lie - this shit is important.)

Yesterday, when I got off the bus, I noticed the little mystery cafe had an open door and, more importantly, an 'OPEN' sign. And, perhaps most importantly, they had an espresso machine and were giving away free coffee. I went in, chatted up the barista, and she kindly made me a decaf Americano. As I drank it, a term from a sport I do not watch at all popped into my head.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was a gooooooood Americano. Praise Jeebus, it was a really good Americano.

It is with much happiness that Aa and I welcome the Sun Cafe into our neighborhood!! And, might I add, it's about gee dee time. I fear once Veraci finally opens across the street from the Sun, I might just explode with joy. I'm not into the dumb, ugly "townhomes" being built pretty much right in my backyard (at 7:30 on a Saturday morning, thanks douchebags). But I am so into these two new lil' businesses parking right down the street from me. This is development I am 100000% behind. Yes, that's right, five whole zeroes. That's how much I'm behind it.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Reason 5,973 Why I'm Lucky

I have ridiculously awesome friends. This past weekend, my friends Liz, Renee, Laurie, and Wendy organized a weekend away at Renee and Laurie's in-laws' family cabin on Vashon Island. I got picked up by Liz on Friday afternoon and then whisked away to a place where I didn't have to do or plan anything, except whether I wanted another glass of wine. Or some more cookies. For the record, I wanted both.

We also got to bring dogs, so the Zacker came with me and Wendy brought her guy Jackson.He's waiting and waiting and waiting for someone to throw something in the water so he can fetch it. Swear to God, Wendy threw rocks for him to fetch out of the water on Saturday afternoon - and he stuck his head underwater and fetched them.

Zack spent a lot of his time on the island either lying in the sun, as usual, or sitting on my lap. Here we are hanging out around the bonfire Saturday night, working on our Myspace profile picture.


And here is a weird grassy path-y place Liz, Zack and I stumbled on during one of our long walks. I am 85% certain there is some sort of religious cult living there.


Saturday night, special guest stars Rebecca and Patricia dropped by to have dinner. Look at how excited Rebecca is! Or perhaps she's saying, "We gotta get the fuck off this island! Now!"

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Transit Stories, Parts 1 & 2

Yesterday morning, I ran to the bus stop because I saw my bus sitting at the intersection. Once I got to the stop, I realized that bus wasn't going anywhere -- all the lights were off save the hazards, and there were reflective-vest wearing techs standing around nearby. So I got my magazine out to wait. That's when I heard this terrible coughing, retching sound from behind the bus shelter. I turned around and saw someone bent over, coughing away. He came out from behind the shelter - he was a youngish looking guy in a baseball cap and sweats. I felt bad for him. I walked over to the bus schedule to see what time the next bus was. Baseball Cap said "I think we just missed our bus. I got off the 28 a minute ago to connect, but there wasn't anyone else at the stop." I replied that maybe the stalled bus was the one we wanted, and we'd be waiting for a while. Then I walked a few paces to get back into my magazine.

That's when I heard a just totally hair-raisingly nasty retching / belching sound coming from Baseball Cap's direction. Then the smell hit me. Then he retched and belched again. I walked towards the garbage can to throw something away, only to realize Baseball Cap puked all over it. I turned around to see where he was and realized he puked all over the bus schedule and bus stop signpost, too. He must've done that right after we chatted about "our" bus. At this point, three people came to the stop, saw / heard / smelled Baseball Cap getting sick, started mumbling, and quickly walked away.

That's when Weepy Drunk Lady appeared. She came out of the gas station near the bus stop, talking about the lateness of the bus. Then, she headed towards me and started crying. She brushed right past me, crying and talking to herself. Baseball Cap belched behind me and something wet hit the ground. Two more people who'd come to the bus stop looked at each other, shook their heads, and walked away.

At this point, I did something I've never done in my whole transit-riding life. I called Aa and asked for a ride to work. As I did this, Weepy Drunk Lady suddenly stopped crying. She looked at me on my phone and her eyes narrowed. "What?! You're gonna be late for work?! You ignore a homeless person?! You're calling your boss?! With your fancy backpack?!" I wasn't worried about being late for work, I wasn't calling my boss, and my backpack is old, ratty, and thoroughly un-fancy. But she was right about one thing. I was trying very hard to ignore her, as well as Baseball Cap, who must've just been puking up bile or dry heaving at that point. Aa agreed to give me a lift, and I headed home. Weepy Drunk Lady followed me for about 100 feet, yelling questions at me the whole time. I didn't answer any of them.

This morning, I again saw the bus waiting to cross the intersection to my stop. This time, the bus was running and all the lights were on. I again ran to the stop and got on. As I headed back to find a seat, I heard "This song was way ahead of its time! It's really trance-y!" I turned to see who was talking - nobody talks on the AM buses here. A middle-aged man, developmentally disabled, was listening to an iPod through headphones. He had a huge grin on his face. "This song was groundbreaking! Yeah! Hey, that house is boarded up!" He looked up at me and grinned even wider. I grinned right back.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

From the sleep suites at Virginia Mason

I'm in the middle of a sleep study here at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle. Last night after check-in, I was wired up, had a bunch of wires attached to my head with goo, and am currently waiting for my second "nap" of the day (they have you lie down and try to sleep every 2 hrs for 15-20 minutes. Then, just when you are about to drift off, they wake you up! It's vicious).

I'm not allowed any caffeine during the study, which means I am currently right at the beginning of a truly awesome headache. Also I can only lay down and close my eyes when they tell me to. Which is weird and annoying. But the nice things are - I have Internet access (obviously), a decent view of downtown, and an excuse to stay in my PJ's all day. And I have all of Season 5 of the Wire with me, since I can watch DVDs here on my nice big flat screen teevee. In a few hours, someone will bring me lunch. The food is eh, of course. It's weird how spoiled I've become in regards to food. Someone brings me a Yoplait yogurt and I am disappointed because I know there's way better stuff out there -stuff without 85 bajillion sweeteners. Anyway.

OK, time for my second "nap". I'm gonna be grumpy by the end of today! Man oh man.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

2 generations after Paul Starkey

Aa had me take this to replicate a picture of his grandpa, Paul, canoeing with his sweetheart (and Aa's grandma) Peggy. I don't think we're quite as glamorous as they were. But I don't think they had single-region, shade-grown, fair trade coffee that morning with breakfast either. So, you know, tradeoffs.

not quite Peggy Starkey


not quite Peggy Starkey
Originally uploaded by defconhouse2

Aa took this photo to replicate the shots his grandparents took of each other more than 60 years ago. I don't quite think I match the utter gorgeousness of Peggy Starkey in that photo.

Also - dear GOD! My legs are like vampire pale. Dang.

Just pointing something out

Gregory Hines is wearing a cut-off Walter Payton Chicago Bears home jersey in the video for the Running Scared song. That is all.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The sun is hiding outside Ellensburg, WA


Above's a picture of the place we went camping / rafting this weekend. It was excellent - dry, sunny, hot. Even aside from the weird redneck guys who were camping nearby and liked to yell "woooo!" late into the night.

I have a bit of a sunburn on my back. I had to wear sunglasses all day Saturday. That was when I sat in an innertube and was pulled along the cold, clear river by 6 rafts tied together. Including a raft in the middle that had nothing but beer-filled coolers. And a large plastic bag with a spout that contained something called a wine-a-rita.

More pictures and stuff later. But right now I just want to tell you, if you're wondering what it's like to drive from late August sun and heat to early November rain and cold in like three hours, it's kind of neat. But it's real crappy if you're leaving August for November. Arrange to travel the other way as often as possible. That's my suggestion.

the cure, while lion, nostalgia, and getting older


so here i am at my fav coffee shop in ballard getting ready to do some work...and the 19ish year old barista plays the Cure's "Staring at the Sea" on the coffee shop stereo.

"COOL! I love this record!", i think to myself.

Then, the realization that i was also listening to this record in high school...probably before this kid was born, sets in:

"DAMN! i'm old!"

But, upon further (and immediate) reflection i realize..."well, at least the music that has become popular again is music that i like...i had great taste back then..therefore, i have great tastes now. the nineteen year old and I have something in common."


Then again, i did go see White Lion in high school...so, if history had played out differently, he could have played While Lion instead and i truly would have had something to despair about this afternoon...

Friday, August 15, 2008

raft


Excursion 5 Boat Set for up to 5 people includes boat, pump and oars. Made from SUPER-TOUGH vinyl construction for durability. Inflatable seats and floor for comfort. US Coast Guard approved.

i bought a raft today. long story.
well, okay, short story: The J and I are going with our friends to a float/raft thingie next weekend. We'll tie our boats together, drink beer, and float down a river in eastern washington, camp, then float some more the next day...

somtimes, chicago seems a life time away...

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Weekend, In Bullet Points

  • Friday night: The thinky/confusing but awesome but with terrible audio Chimes at Midnight with Matt and Aa. Then dinner at Quinn's, which included fish and chips that should've been better considering what we paid for them.
  • Saturday morning: AGTV workshop / coffee with the excellent Sean O'Connor.
  • Saturday afternoon: KEXP barbecue with Aa. Was pleasantly surprised to run into nice people, including Charlie, Martin, and Andreas. Always happy to see Cheryl. Then, upon leaving, a personal victory! I drove the stick shift Death Star GTI home and only killed it twice. HAW!
  • Saturday late afternoon: cookie-making frenzy for Jon and Renee's wedding party / potluck deal. 5 second walk with Zack, who refused to step on the damp grass and would only pee after I took him into the middle of the street.
  • Saturday evening: Jon and Renee's wedding party! Super fun. Lots of food, lots more of alcohol. Aa showed up a couple of hours after me, as he was still at the KEXP barbecue.
  • Here are some of the text messages I got from Aa, helping me chart his progress both in getting to the party and level of sobriety:
    • 8:19 pm Where e u?
    • 8:23 pm I am drunk. Where r u?
    • 8:27 pm Comibgm. To dunk to ype.
    • 9:09 pm Yeds.
    • 9:26 pm I am herem where ru??
  • Sunday morning / afternoon: hangover-curing brunch at Senor Moose. Tipped less than 20% for the first time in years because of the profoundly bad, rude service we got. Felt guilty for hours afterward.
  • Late Sunday afternoon: long walk with the Zacker. Nap on couch. Long phone chat with Hans, our one friend who actually did flee the US for Canada. He explained the difference between armageddon and apocalypse*.
  • Sunday night: Laundry, cleaning, rewarded with pizza and movie (The Great Escape, which is really boring. And the weird happy soundtrack music that constantly loops through the film makes you think you're watching a feel-good comedy instead of a WAR MOVIE ABOUT POWS TRYING TO ESCAPE A NAZI PRISON.) Then, bedtime. Snuggles with the Zacker, good book, sleep.


*armageddon = destruction of everything caused by humans. apocalypse = destruction of everything outside of human control. So, full-on nuclear war is armageddon. The sun exploding and eating the planet is an apocalypse. Or...hmm...perhaps it's the opposite. I actually don't remember which is which.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Illinois State Fair...


i am from Springfield, Illinois. That should come as no surprise to most of our loyal readers. Growing up in Springfield, the end of summer was always punctuated by a crazy hot week that brought together the classic midwest triplet of bad food, bad music, and drunk central Illinois natives: the Illinois State Fair.

I could attempt to write an insightful essay on this event..but I won't. David F. Wallace did that 10 years ago in his book of essays, "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again"...it's really funny and pretty accurate.

So, when I read the State Journal Register this morning and saw the grandstand lineup...i shed a tear...
Fergie gets it started on Friday, “Weird Al” Yankovic will wield his mighty accordion on Saturday and Huey Lewis and the News (with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts opening) rounds out the weekend lineup on Sunday.

how can you beat that?

i don't think you can.

**although, really, Joan Jett should be headlining...not Huey..she ROCKS.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Paul and Peggy Starkey


This is my grandfather and grandmother from way back when. circa 1944 is my best guess...roughly a year after they were married.

I love that they handed the camera back and forth to each other to get these shots. I have no idea where they were, but clearly, Paul and Peggy were having one helluva a great day.

I do not have a mullet...regardless of what J. says...

Got out the ol' scanner today because it dawned on me that i had only one copy of the following picture...and by golly, it should be digital. long live 1989. this was taken the same day as my senior portrait. i figured that if i had to pay, out of my own pocket, for a portrait of myself in a suit from TJMaxx then by golly I was also going to get a picture taken with all of my favorite things!



Favorite things I still have: the led zeppelin II t-shirt, the white gibson guitar, and my father's watch. I would gladly trade the t-shirt for the el camino though.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Momentary dork out

AWESOME. Cannot wait for this movie. Double plus kick ass.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You're *mumble* magic, you're right where I wanna be

So one of the Great Films Of My Childhood is the Billy Crystal-Gregory Hines-Jimmy Smits opus Running Scared. My sister and I watched this movie so many times we pretty much had it memorized. In fact one of the high points of my recent trip home was walking into my parents' house and hearing my sister yell, "Jeannie! We're upstairs watching Running Scared!"

Last night I got home from a meeting and Aa was perched on our sweet new sectional. He'd been to the video store. And, after hearing me talk about both Running Scared and the big hit song from Running Scared for years, he rented the DVD. I was happy. We settled in to watch it.

I will not defend this movie at all. Jimmy Smits' character is a total stereotype ("Eyen gonna be the first Hispanic godfather of Chee-cah-go", Jimmy says at one point). It is just weird upon weird that the two vigorously heterosexual characters played by Crystal and Hines want nothing more than to open a bar in Key West, where they can go back to roller-skating in little shorts and T-shirts tied at the hip (for real).

But there is the very special companion piece to this movie - the video for that big hit song I mentioned earlier. (use the link, I can't embed it here, which is stupid.) Did I forget to say that song is by Michael McDonald? And that I actually saw him perform it live when he opened for Steely Dan a few years ago? And that I was the only person there who appeared excited about the performance of said song? And Aa and our friend Mike didn't get why I was so excited? But then later when I told my sister I saw Michael McDonald open for Steely Dan, her first question was "Oh my God! Did he play that Running Scared song?!"

Monday, July 28, 2008

BEHOOOOOLD!

After years of complaints and frustration that our little blue couch just wasn't comfortable enough for the two of us, we finally did something about it. Craigslist offered up, and we grabbed, this killer sectional - cheap, comfy, and cuuuuute.





Last night, we both lay down on opposite ends of our sweet new sectional and watched a movie. It was The Sting. We both fell asleep before the end of the movie. It was awesome.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Cake Wrecks




My new most favorite thing. Particularly because of this.
Or, maybe this.
or, for the love of God, this!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hey! Want To Know More About Shingles?

I do right now, obviously. Perhaps you do too! Dr. Sanjay Gupta to the rescue.

Standout line for me: "In most cases, the shingles rash and blisters go away in a few weeks or months, but in some cases the pain can last for years." Hey, great!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cumpleanos Amigos!

So last night, while waiting for a seat at Senor Moose, Aa turned to me and said, "I never got a cake for my birthday. This is the first year I haven't gotten a cake for my birthday in a long time." We then had a discussion about the challenges of celebrating Aa's birthday. (background: in the past, I have thrown / co-thrown him two surprise parties because I thought he was passively hinting he wanted people to acknowledge his birthday, but he didn't want to be the one to organize or remind anyone. I was very, very wrong in my analysis of his desires in those situations. I'd learned to never, ever again throw him a surprise party. The only exception is if he dies before me and I have to make funeral arrangements.)

After a few minutes, we got a couple of sweet counter spots. We both noticed a really yummy piece of half-eaten tres leches cake sitting on the counter. And we actually both went, "hmmmm" and looked at each other. Aa then said, "DO NOT tell them it is my birthday".

Then we started ordering food. And, holy cow, the food. The eating and the eating and the more eating. During one break in the eating, I turned to Aa and asked, "Hey, do you know what cumpleanos means?" He said, "Yeah, it means friends. I remember we would sing a song in Spanish class, like Bienvenidos cumpleanos or something. It was a song about friends." I grinned at him and went back to my eating. A plan began to form in my head. I could lean over to one of the cooks or the waiters and tell them, in Spanish, that it was Aaron's birthday and we needed a little of that awesome-looking tres leches cake to celebrate. Very exciting.

Unfortunately, all that eating we did led to a final bloated check-in. Aa couldn't handle more food. Neither could I. So my super-slick plan would go unrealized. We left the gustatory wonderland of Senor Moose and started waddling home. As we waddled, I decided to share my thwarted plan with Aa. I explained that cumpleanos actually means birthday. He was annoyed at first, until he realized the song he used to sing in class was actually "Happy Birthday". At that point he started berating his own inability to speak any Spanish. We wound up laughing about the whole thing. But I've been thinking about this today. Apparently, I haven't learned my lesson. I still want to surprise/embarrass Aa. I wonder why that is.


PS - I know I need a tilde above the n's in cumpleanos and senor, and the upside down excalamation point. But I don't know how to make them happen. So, blah.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Because you don't have enough crap bookmarked yet

Well, whatever. You don't! Because you don't yet have my sister's blog about her impending parenthood bookmarked. Seriously. You may be thinking this blog is only something that's of interest to me, as I will be Aunted with the birth of this Superbaby. Well, you're WRONG! This blog is of interest to everyone. EVERYONE. Mainly because my sister is the funniest person in the Midwest, if not the whole country.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Very Special Announcement!

It's Aaron's birthday today!!!




He's currently out eating way too much grilled meat at Korean BBQ. Yay! Happy birthday babe.

Getting Married When You're Already Married

My Salon Of Shame co-conspirator Ariel wrote about Aaron and me and our getting weddinged plans on Offbeat Bride. I love the comments - it was really nice to see we aren't the only people to have gotten hitched for insurance! Also, it's fun to see a phrase my awesome co-worker Jenny made up get some love.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wherein I complain at length about my health

So, three or four years ago, I was diagnosed with gout. Yeah, that weird inflammatory condition you get if you're a 50-year old man who eats too many cream sauces and drinks too much beer. At 29, about a month after having run a half-marathon, a doctor looked me in the face and said I had gout. Turns out he mis-diagnosed me, but not after I took a regimen of pills that knocked me out for 3-4 hours each time I took one. But even after all that, I was profoundly relieved to find I'd been mis-diagnosed. How could I have gout?

Sunday, I found myself in urgent care near my parents' house because I was getting freaked out by what I thought was a spider bite. Except within four days, it had spread so it looked like a spider walked across my belly to my back, taking bites as he walked. Bites that were getting kind of...hurty. I was going to be in Chicago for two more days and it was clear my strategy of lifting my shirt and asking my sister, "hey, does this look like a bug bite to you?" wasn't helping. Turns out, I have shingles. Yep, shingles. The emergency room doc said that they're seeing cases in a lot more people these days. But I still had - and am still having - kind of the same reaction I had to the gout diagnosis. How could I get shingles? Who the hell gets shingles?

Turns out, pretty much anybody can get shingles. It just happens, it's the chicken pox virus, pretty much anyone can get it, blah blah blah. Basically the viral version of crappy luck. But still. That didn't make me feel any less weird when I had to call friends to cancel plans because of my shingles. And it's not gonna help when I have to go to work tomorrow to explain why I'm leaving early after being gone for four days (follow-up doctor's appointment! For the shingles!). Oh, right, and two weeks ago I was knocked flat with a respiratory infection and missed a full week of work then too. But now? I have shingles, so I'm gonna be MIA for a little bit again. Hey, sorry about that.

In a few months I'll think it's totally funny that I had shingles. But right now? It's uncomfortable and frustrating and I just can't find the funny in it.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Gifts from the Interweb

Mystery of the Meat-Eaters' Molecule (thanks, Nick!)

The Rocka-Fire Explosion covers Usher's Love In This Club (you will probably only like this if you ever went to Showbiz Pizza as a kid). I recommend watching the whole 4 minutes and 31 seconds. Really, really.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Hi, Normal Life!

AND! By the way! I feel better. Still coughing, still sounding funny...but I'm finally back at work. Yesterday I did a super-slow run. I've been tasting food (and eating! MEALS!) since Friday evening*. It's very, very exciting.

*I am shopping a new diet book pitch because of this - "The Upper Respiratory Infection Diet: Lose A Pound A Day!"

Sunday, July 06, 2008

One of the most fun interviews I ever did


Photo Credit Alan Berner / The Seattle Times


That picture above is of Pierre Sundborg. He's a retired engineer here in Seattle who, a few years ago, decided to ride every Metro bus line in numerical order end-to-end. Seriously.


Last week, the Seattle Times wrote a really sweet piece about him. I just read it, and I sat here grinning like a dork the whole time. I could hear Pierre telling stories and laughing while I read the article. He actually called me a couple of weeks ago to tell me the article was coming out. I asked him if he was looking forward to it, and he laughed and said "This is your fault! I don't know whether to thank you or blame you."


Pierre is one of the people I feel ridiculously lucky to have met. My job isn't always sunshine and roses, but getting to talk to somebody like him is about the greatest thing ever. And I love that someone else asked about his story. I'm happy to get blamed for that.















Thursday, July 03, 2008

Going Crazy

So I've had this insane respiratory infection thingie that has knocked me flat since Monday. Monday, people! I have a killer sore throat - it actually feels like there's a nasty plug of some kind in there which makes swallowing and talking difficult. My voice sounds awful and hoarse (which, yes, thanks for asking, makes my job where I talk on the radio for a living kind of tough to do). I've been bored enough to clean out our closet, clean out old clothes in my dresser, wash every dirty piece of fabric in the house, change (and then change back) the design of our getting weddinged site, and make carrot salad and baked tofu for me to snack on when I actually feel hungry (not often right now). I also tried to work from home yesterday - but much of my job consists of talking to people on the phone and I am having a tough time doing that.

I know I'm supposed to be resting and all, but I can't seem to settle down long enough to actually do it. I feel like I should be doing something. How do you get yourself to settle down when you can't seem to? How do you force yourself to rest? I can't figure it out, and telling myself it's the only way I'll get better ain't working.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

tour ended...

i could try and write a post about tour...but ryan wrote the best one. i couldn't have said it better.
read it: http://ryanschierling.blogspot.com/2008/06/end-of-tour.html

Saturday, June 28, 2008

tour part 2

played kirby's last night. always a good time, even when you think that it is going to be that ONE time when the place does not deliver. in the end, it is about the people...which leads into something i have been thinking about on this tour..the people. at the end of the day, we are doing what we are doing so that we can connect ourselves to other people through the performance of music. when there are no people..which has only happened once or twice in the last 6 years it can be, obviously, very hard to deal with. but those nights where there are only 4 or 5 people in in bozeman on a monday night...well...sometimes those are the best shows. that is a common cliche of course..but when you have been gone from home for weeks...having some sort of connection and appreciation for what you are trying to do feels really good.

and then there is the food. i wont complain about it. we all know what diner food is like. all i will say is that i am going to be eating food made on my stove in my kitchen for the next two weeks. and i am very grateful for the cleanliness of my bathroom.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sniffle

If had been a long week of work eating my life. I needed some sunshine and a way to get my brain out of the office. So I ran home from work. About 8 blocks from home, I tripped on a crack in the sidewalk and took a total header. I fell hard enough that my glasses flew off, and I kind of lay on the sidewalk for a minute waiting for the return of the wind I'd just knocked out of myself. Various parts of my body hurt, but I got up and finished my run. I stopped at the gas station by my house to get some antiseptic and beer (I kind of figured I earned the beer).

Then I got home and discovered we had no bandages. So I went back to the gas station. I scraped up my elbow and leg pretty good; none of the bandages were big enough. So I got a dusty old box of gauze wrapping and some dusty medical tape. Each time I went into the gas station, I stood in line and watched as the dude behind the counter made nice with every other lady who was in there. It was Friday night. All the girlies were dressed nice, smelling good, buying beer for their fun evenings out. But not me. I was sweaty and stinky and bloody, and the gas station dude never even made eye contact with me. Not once in either of the times I was in there.

Walking home, I realized you actually need gauze pads to go under the gauze wrapping to cover the wound. (Well, OK, I didn't realize it- that's what was written on the back of the box of gauze wrapping.) I didn't have any stupid gauze pads. But I didn't care. I'd already cleaned the dirt out of everything and used the antiseptic. So I just used toilet paper. Then I called Aa and left a truly pathetic message about how much I would have liked him to be home tonight. (It's tough to wrap gauze around your elbow with no help!) Then I burst into tears.

During my whole little saga, the Zacker was sitting and staring at me expectantly. So I got it together, changed my clothes, and took him for a walk. A block away from my house, some guy was working on his motorcycle. He was blaring music from his car radio. It took me a second to identify it. But then I did - it was"Shoplifters of the World Unite" by The Smiths. I started grinning, and as we walked by motorcycle guy, I thanked him for playing it. "I was in a real shitty mood until just a minute ago. But getting to hear this song just made me very happy", I said. He smiled and said "You bet. Just remember you'll never be as miserable as these fuckers". Which I think is the best thing I've heard all week. So, motorcycle-fixing Smith-listening neighbor man, again I say thank you for snapping me out of my fantastically crappy mood. And I suppose I should thank Morrissey, too, for always being a more miserable fucker than me.

UPDATE: Never use toilet paper on bloody scrapes instead of cotton or gauze. Seriously. Because the next morning you'll go to re-dress the scrapes and you'll find some of the TP has gotten so soaked it's basically become part of the wound! Then you have to pull the TP out. And yes, that does suck mightily. But still. Morrissey! More miserable! Hey!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

tour


i am on tour with the band and i am tired..but having fun. the heat and humidity of the midwest has been a welcome taste of home and a reminder of why the northwest can be so cozy sometimes. 90+ temp days take their toll.

that said, the shows have been great for the most part. we are playing better than we ever have...the songs are working well and the crowd response has been affirming. if you want to see pics...check out ryan's blog..the photographer who is traveling with us for the 2nd time around..he is a glutton for punishment...but we are very happy that he has joined us again.

Anyway...i could write so much more about the tour experience..and this is our sixth..but i don't really know what more i could say right now as i am so in the thick of being gone...and yet being at home every night on stage...that it is a confusing mess of emotions and thoughts and distances and people that i just would not be able to write anything that would have any degree of coherence.

more when i get back.

Monday, June 23, 2008

New Tricks

I'd say it took me longer to really figure out how to drive than most people. After getting my drivers license, my first solo jaunt in a car (to drop off a video a mere 8 blocks from my house) led to me forgetting when I could turn left, getting beeped at, freaking out, turning into oncoming traffic, and then running over a bush on an island at a gas station to avoid hitting another car head-on. Hardly a success. Another time, on a post-college road trip to Graceland, I ignored the gas gauge while taking my turn driving. We wound up on back roads in the middle of Kentucky looking for someone who could help us either find a gas station or get extra gas. My friend Karen, who owned the car we drove, kept asking how I could forget about the gas gauge. I still don't have an answer for that question. I just did.

When I lived in Chicago, I never owned a car and was thrilled about it. I didn't need a car. I could walk or take transportation, or if absolutely necessary, get a cab with no problem. (I didn't like spending money on cabs unless I really needed to be somewhere.) I planned my routes so I could do everything I needed - shop for groceries mainly, but also take care of other necessary errands. Even when I was totally broke and jobless, I could still afford to take public transportation if I saved my change. My friends with cars always seemed to be in an endless war with the city - and the city was always winning. They needed to move their cars every 6 hours to avoid being towed. They would waste time circling around looking for places to park near the bars they frequented. They'd get tickets on a monthly basis. I never felt superior to friends who had cars - hell, they'd give me lifts places sometimes, and it was a fun treat - but I also knew I was just not cut out to be a car owner.

7 + years ago, Aa and I moved here to Seattle. And almost immediately, I got my first car. It actually belonged to Aa's grandparents - a red Geo Metro with about 19 miles on it. It was adorable, but it felt like driving a whiffle ball. I liked the car, but I hated all the obligation that came along with it. I sold that car because I found I hated car ownership. But a year later, I found myself so frustrated with Seattle's bus system, I bought another car - a 1991 Honda Accord. It was a good car, but I still hated everything that came along with ownership. It drove me nuts. Part of the problem was I couldn't let go of the anger I felt at Seattle. I'd moved to a city, goddammit. Why the hell did I need a car to get so many places? For the longest time, I thought of Seattle as an arrogant suburb rather than a city. To be honest, sometimes I still do.

But I digress. During the last 7ish years of my roller coaster relationship with cars, Aa happily drove around a little 1998 Volkswagen GTI. He bought it almost as soon as we got out here. He's done all kinds of things to the car that he says makes it "more responsive". As a passenger, I think he just made the car louder and bumpier. But the thing with the GTI is, it's a manual transmission. And, grandma that I am, I never learned to drive stick shift. Aa tried to teach me once. It didn't go well. So I've spent the last several years (! YEARS!!) simultaneously pledging to learn to drive stick and sort of putting it off. I like to think it's not entirely my fault. Most people will spend a Saturday afternoon in a parking lot with you and think you're ready to go. Uh, no. I am a student with special needs. This means that over the years I've had sporadic lessons, but was still terrified to take the GTI out on the street.

A couple of months ago, my friends Phyllis and Julian showed up on my doorstep. Phyllis had just gotten a car w/ a manual transmission. And Julian was committed to teaching me to drive stick that day. I was shocked. And freaked the fuck out. But I went with them and spent 3 hours in a parking lot. And then - glory of glories! - I drove Phyllis' car to the pet food store and home. It was THRILLING.

Since then, I have driven the GTI only very rarely. The car, in my mind, is still Aa's car. And he is into his car in a way most people I know are not into their cars. This is not to say he's like a meathead about it - he just likes his car and pays a lot of attention to it. So driving that car in a less-than-expert fashion kind of freaks my shit out.

Aa's on tour till early July. And this weekend, I found I had to drive the GTI. My palms were sweaty, I talked to myself a lot, and I killed the engine more than I care to admit. But by yesterday evening, I was able to go from a stop to first gear without killing the engine. I wasn't talking to myself as much. My palms were still sweating, but I was actually having fun.

I don't think I'll ever come to love driving. (Nor, honestly, will I ever forgive Seattle for forcing me to become more car-centric, but that's something else entirely) But this weekend, I leapt over some hurdle with driving and the GTI and a bunch of other stuff. It's exciting, and I'm really proud of myself. And I don't hate the act of driving nearly as much as I used to.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Do you live in the greater Chicagoland area?



Pictures of Aaron and a pickle at The Bagel by the awesome Ryan Schierling, who is on tour w/ the band for the second sweaty Midwestern summer in a row.


If so, you should go to The Darkroom tonight and see Spanish for 100. (The Darkroom is a "new" bar. By that I mean it opened after I left Chicago in 2001.) The show starts around 9, and the guys are the only band playing tonight (??), which means you can roll in, see them kick some ass, and then hang out and have a decent conversation w/o worrying about when the next band will start, forcing you to yell. Also, buy a T-shirt! They're pretty cute. And, gas is expensive. Dang.

Sort of related: Tankboy, what's your deal w/ dudes in undies?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bye Edith

Edith Macefield died earlier this week. She was 86. Edith refused to sell her teeny Ballard house to developers back in 2001. So the developers have been building around her house. It's in many ways a real-life version of this Disney cartoon. Except Edith never got married or had kids. And the house can't blush, as far as I can tell. Or blink. Um, and it doesn't have a nose.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Happyish Flood Story

I got to talk to the Gregory family at Black Sheep Creamery in southwestwern Washington about how their farm and home were totally destroyed by floods in December. And then how, in 6 months, a volunteer effort that was nothing short of miraculous helped them get back on their feet again.

You can hear the story I did that aired yesterday on Weekend America here. (It's the first story.) You can hear a much longer interview I did with Brad Gregory here (about 13 minutes in). Lots more lambies making noise in that second one.

And, yes, I know, the guys at Weekend America spelled my last name wrong. I asked them to fix it. I'm sure they will soon.

And, no, I don't care that the only people who ever spell my last name right are relatives who have the same last name. I'm still not changing it when I get weddinged.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Why I'll be moving to Nebraska

Or at least thinking pretty hard about it...because my most awesome sister lives there, see. And she's having a baby.

I am so excited I can barely stand it. I'm gonna be an aunt to the smartest, funniest, cutest kid ever. Seriously, there's no way this kid won't be President or something given who the parents are. All of that is totally objective assessment. Cold hard fact.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Thank you!

Thanks to all of you for your nice notes and suggestions for chilling myself out when my brain starts to spiral into crazy. A lot of it has been really helpful. I'm feeling a lot less spazzy and freaked.

Also? I don't know how many times I have to re-learn this but exercise really, really helps (as mentioned by the brilliant ladies over at C and C's neighborhood). Hugging the Zacker works too. Although he can really only stand so much cuddling before he gets annoyed, unless he's the one to initiate.

K, so anyway, thank you all. You guys are pretty nice.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Baby Panic Attacks

I've lately been having these mini panic attacks*. You know what I'm talking about? When you start thinking about something and then you just sort of keep spinning it around and around in your head until you find yourself unable to breathe, and unclear on your own reality? Aa's had this long-standing gift when it comes to talking me out of these episodes (as well as the big ones, where I wind up in a ball in tears in some corner of our house, but that hasn't happened for years thankfully). Lately my panic attacks have to do with: our house, the wedding planning, and the future in general. Then this gets all balled up and becomes "OHDEARGODITSALLSOBLEAKWEARE SOSCREWEDIDONTEVENKNOWWHATTODOORWHERETOGOWHEREISTHEDOGINEEDTOCRAWLINTOBED".

So, I have a question for you, dear readers (both of you). If you start feeling your mind spin out like I described, what do you to rein it back in and calm yourself down? Like I said, Aa is amazing at calming me down and bringing me back to reality. But he can't be around all the time, and it'd be cool if I could calm myself down too. Any tricks or tools you've developed would be great to know. Thanks!!


*And please, don't worry, I'm fine. Sometimes I just get worked up about stuff is all.