31 August 2005

Goblets of beer

I sat down at a table with a rag on it. The table wasn't clean, but my hunger made the rag look more promising than germ-ridden, and the rest of the tables were taken or still had paper plates on them. A waitress crackling with frazzled energy picked up the napkin dispenser, wiped off the table, tossed the rag on another dirty table, and took my order.

"Two with sauce and mustard, a rootbeer, and a bag of chips, please."

She made a brief note, said "OK" with a smile, and took off: lunch rush.

Leo's has been around a long time: the walls are covered in fake wood paneling and promotional beer signs. Though it was once a hardcore bar, their popular little hot dogs transformed Leo's into a family friendly dive. A couple of toddlers weaved unsteadily in the aisle behind me.

Ten feet away in the corner in front of me, a woman noticed me and turned to her friend with a smile. The second woman looked discreetly over her shoulder at me and then back at her friend. In their late 30s perhaps, athletic builds, with faces weathered by hard living. They were drinking beer out of glass goblets which was odd because Leo's serves just about every drink in a cold mug. I was sure they were making fun of my shirt.

"Oh my God, check out that tourist behind you."

"What kind of idiot wears a Hawaiian shirt in New England?"

"One like her." Snicker.

Mind you, I didn't actually hear anything they said, but it felt like a reasonable guess considering their body language and attire. They wore solid, pale grey tank tops in different hues with equally muted pants. My shirt is a casual, short sleeve in deep red with a bold, light beige, abstract floral pattern reminiscent of tribal tattoos. When I looked around, I noticed everyone's clothes were subdued. You can keep your monochrome.

The two women continued their conversation with occasional glances my way. Maybe it's not my shirt, maybe it's me. A laughable shirt would be a short-lived amusement, their behavior suggested something more. I started to wonder if they thought I was someone else because I didn't recognize them at all. The next time they glanced at me, I looked at them; they both looked away quickly and guiltily.

My waitress set the small paper plate with two hot dogs (mustard and chili sauce) in front of me, unhooked the mug of rootbeer from her thumb, and pulled a bag of chips from her apron. From behind her, one of my observers said, "Let's get two more." I thought this was for the waitress' benefit, but instead the two women moved to the bar where their backs were to me.

30 August 2005

Late night treat

This... well, I don't know, but it totally made me laugh.


Helena's talking about today here, the adult life, the now, but with both our recent adolescent musings, I find my own answer coming from that younger voice.

You taught me restraint. I used to light up at the prospect of seeing you, but then you stopped and remained unmoved. Again and again and again. Delight in seeing a friend was uncool; I learned my lesson. I held back; I trained myself to care less. It was good preparation for high school. Maybe I should've thanked you.

Except it was work and left me numb and depressed. And sometimes vexed: the armor was so effective, my intent was often misunderstood. In college, I couldn't take it anymore. If I heard the word "stoic" one more time, I was going to hit someone. The armor dropped away for a time but always stood ready to return if I felt hurt.

It's come and gone over the years. Many times I've stepped free of it only to be thrust back, face in the dirt, by some lie of omission. I still can't get used to the idea that I'm supposed to interrogate you to be sure you're telling me everything I need to know. That's what you implied, you know, when you said, "But you never asked..." What ever happened to trust, decency, and integrity?

Now I endeavor to stand on the fulcrum supporting trust, the point where there is no risk. But if you step back, I will, so we can preserve the balance together.

the top off

So if I was smarter, I would've topped off my gas tank before Katrina barreled through the Gulf, but instead I'll settle for filling it up before the price gets jacked up even more. $2.64/gallon, and that was with the five cent discount!

Of course, I picked a pump that wouldn't let you scan the discount card directly. I considered driving around to another pump, but I'd already waited through an old, casually dapper man pumping his gas. A blonde lab/retriever mix had looked out the passenger window of a neighboring car with the same bored, resigned look I felt I displayed.

A note taped to the pump said I could prepay at the cashier or go up and get the discount retroactively if I paid at the pump. I was going to pay cash anyway so I shut off the engine, resigned to endure the extra hassle.

The cashier sat in a 5' x 7' rectangular booth surrounded by cartons of cigarettes and packs of gum. There was just enough room for one person to walk in and sit down. I waited patiently for another customer to finish as water from the gutter splashed my calves. They finished their friendly exchange, and the obese woman ahead of me waddled off.

I held my card and twenty under the plexiglass and told her, "Hi, I'd like to fill up on regular at pump one."

"You want to put twenty in?" she asked while she scanned my card.

"I don't know if it'll take that much," I answered with some concern as my twenty disappeared in the register.

"Well twenty's what I punched in," she said with finality. Now, I've bought a lot of gasoline over the years paying cash, credit, or debit, at the pump or inside, but her demeanor said, "At my pumps, you do things my way, and if I want to screw you over, I will."

I thought there might be time to salvage things before I walked away, so I asked, "Can I get change?"

She looked at me as though I was an idiot, and said, "What? Do you think I'm going to steal from you?"

I gave her a headshake-shoulder shrug reply and went to pump my gas. The meter read the correctly discounted price, so that was something. At $15 even, the pump shut off. I knew my tank had been half-full, but I'd thought it was going to take a couple more gallons to fill. I wondered if the cashier had only entered $15, because I couldn't remember the last time a pump had stopped on the dollar. I decided to trust the pump and returned to the cashier's hut to get my change.

Barely any time had passed, and though I smiled I could tell my return was too soon for her temperament. Without a word, she handed me a five from her plexiglass domain. "Thanks," I said. She continued to scowl at me.

Wow, she really hates me, I thought to myself as I walked back to my car. Oh well.

29 August 2005

How to get ribs without mange

My favorite restaurant was a Chinese buffet, but they changed management recently, and now nothing tastes quite right to me. Faced with choosing where to eat tonight, I suggested The Ground Round since they have delectable ribs.

"So you're ready to put up with that mangy waitress?" Mom asked.

"Oh right." I chuckled, remembering the old waitress we always get stuck with when we go there. "Mangy's a good word for it."

"That's not very nice," Mom pointed out.

"But you're the one who said it first!"

Mom laughed and conceded, "Mangy is a good word."

"She's not that bad," Dad interjected. I rolled my eyes. "We've had worse," he continued.

"Yeah, but she always takes forever to get the food and the check. And she's old," I argued. Old, in and of itself, isn't a problem; she just has this craggy face and long, stringy, lusterless hair always pulled back with a barrette. Unappetizing. Though we could ask to be seated in a different section, it would make no difference because their crazy management has the waitstaff cover tables throughout the restaurant.

My elation was all out of proportion when a young overweight waitress walked up to take our drink orders. Her shirt was tucked in, but just barely; her stomach bulged over her apron. It occurs to me now that she might be pregnant, but at the time it just registered as sloppy because she looked young. I didn't care as long as the service was decent.

She was very good: timely, attentive, friendly. I didn't see the old waitress at all, in fact. Note to self: maybe Mangy has Mondays off.

tip of the week- gratitude

Don't be stingy with gratitude; go freakin' nuts and be generous with it even.

I'd like to take this moment to thank everyone who's commented on ttat. I appreciate it. I especially appreciate those comments of late made in spite of the word verification feature I activated. The comment spam was getting to be a real drag, so thanks for putting up with the extra step.

28 August 2005

Politeness anyone? No?

OK, I'm back to feeling petty. Why with so many people my age (or thereabouts) is it not customary to thank someone if they send you something? Hell, even acknowledging it was ever received would be a step up.

To those who do this: is it really too time-consuming to e-mail me, "Hey- I got the _____. Thanks. Gotta run"? Sure I'd love to hear more from you, but this would at least satisfy the most basic demands of good manners. In case you were wondering, the answer to that question is a resounding NO. You're not too busy to do it; I've seen how you live. Finding five minutes over a few day span is doable for most people, even you, and is well worth it.

Instead, you say nothing. I didn't get delivery confirmation this time, so I have to ask you which makes me feel like a loser because I'm still catering to you. I want to curse the post office, but as before, there's no need. "Yeah, I got it," you say, sometimes remembering to throw in "Thanks." If you don't care enough to say thank you unprovoked, why do I bother?

No, giving something isn't about expecting something in return. Not exactly, anyway. For me, a gift is an expression of affection, and when it's received unacknowledged, I get the impression that affection is not reciprocated. With varying success, I try to remind myself you just have egregious manners. Work on that, will you? Thanks.


Something's off today. Leaping to the wrong conclusion, taking something personally with little cause or investigation. A melancholy to match the grey skies.

Aware of it, taking action to thwart the depression I'm so capable of. The battle ensues.

The misunderstanding resolved without me with a mood lift to accompany it. But the darkness hangs over still because I gave in to it when I knew better.

Though I usually find my voice in my writing, I feel like I can't speak today. Loneliness no doubt.

Deep breath, drink some water, feel a little better. Maybe it's just allergies.

26 August 2005

Grudge memory

The day started to derail early, but I felt too on top of things to notice. Mom started telling me about the furnace guy coming. I interrupted because I already knew and had a plan for moving my boxes which are currently in the way. I leaned back in my chair with my best "I've got it covered" look. But it wasn't the plan she had in mind. Hers meant doing things today, right now-she would concede a few minutes if necessary. It would've been better if I conceded then, but I suggested she use the free closet space for her stuff since it would be here more permanently. She brushed the whole thing off. I said I'd be down in a couple minutes to move boxes, trying to concede, but the damage was done.

I thought she went back to the basement, but she hadn't. She was sitting in the dining room with my father having lunch. I leaned against the entryway to see if she was going to jump up and show me what she'd had in mind, but she was no longer gung-ho. They'd been talking about their earliest memories a few hours before, and the conversation had cropped up again.

"I have a grudge memory," she said.

"Oh, really? I never would've guessed," Dad and I teased.

She continued, "I still vividly recall a Sunday when my sister was supposed to read me the funnies, but she didn't. It must've been before I could read. She went out or something, and she never did do it even when she got home."

"And you give me a hard time saying, 'That's all you remember?' when I say stuff like that about you," I blurted out. I couldn't stop myself because she acts like some of the memories I recount are grudges, a tally of wrongdoings by her, when they aren't; it's just how I remember them. At worst, my intent is only to tease. I just have trouble remembering that for the most part, she doesn't take teasing well though she gives it mercilessly. This "grudge memory" concession of hers seemed like a great opportunity to vindicate myself.

Again, I was missing the bigger picture: Mom's mood.

Dad was putting stuff away in the kitchen while Mom threw clothes in the dryer on the other side of the room. Triumphantly, I laughed and said, "It's karma. You still remember your sister didn't read you the comics, and now I remember stuff about you." She kept transferring clothes from the washer to dryer. I still felt right. I mean if anybody taught me to more readily remember the negative, it was her. Pointing such things out, however, is a perfect way to get the cold shoulder the rest of the day.

She walked out without saying anything, and I knew I'd blown it. With her, apologizing to nip it in the bud never feels successful, and it didn't feel useful to try after the grudge memory talk. Besides, I'd meant everything I said.

We didn't cross paths again until later this afternoon. In an effort to regain some cordial ground, I made a dinner suggestion choosing what I believe is her favorite restaurant.

"I thought you didn't like Jimmy's," she stated.

"I like it fine," I countered. For fuck's sake, does no one pay any attention to what I say? I just don't always feel like driving the 45 minutes to get there.

We got the waitress my parents have known for quite a while, so she helped to lighten the mood a bit. After we'd eaten, the waitress asked if we'd like coffee. This decision often hinges on my patience because I don't drink coffee, but my parents were both waffling for other reasons. "Would you like some coffee?" my Dad asked of Mom.

"I'm having an 'I don't care' sort of day," she answered.

I looked at the waitress and said, "Bring them coffee." Dad and I split a slice of French silk pie, but Mom wouldn't have any.

On the way home, Dad asked if she wanted to stop to get lottery tickets. "No, I'm not getting out," she muttered. "But if someone else wants to..."

I offered to do it and did, but still no chink in the armor. I was glad there was plenty on tv to keep me distracted once we got home.

Grudge indeed.

25 August 2005

The Prom: Take Two (part 3)

(The sequel to Hamlet was my undoing: Parts I, II, III)

The Prom: Take Two (part 1, part 2)

All right peeps, here it is, the final installment of this saga. As usual, names have been changed. If this has all seemed excessively long to you, blame Helena for encouraging others to write tales of adolescent angst. Ok, she didn't say the tales had to be long or anything, that's just how it turned out, so maybe don't blame her. And now, without further adieu...

Part 3:

The rest of the details fell into place; my hair was done, I was dressed, and Mom was making me pose next to a bowl of pink flowers. The front door was open and Jake appeared, looking perfect. He'd chosen a classic black tux with a vest instead of a cummerbund. We stood together in front of the mantle as Mom fired off more shots.

As we drove to Liza's to meet up with the limo, Jake commented, "Ya know, some tribes in Africa think having your picture taken steals your soul."

I did know that but was at a loss for what to say. "Hmm," I murmured. For once, his brooding nature seemed a little less appealing, because I knew we had several more photo ops ahead of us.

The blue limo we'd rented took up most of Liza's driveway. Jake parked across the street, and we walked over to join the group: Liza and her date, and two other classmates going as friends. After other various parents had their fill of couples and candid shots, the six of us lined up against the limo for group photos. Without question, I had the best-looking date even if he didn't like having his picture taken. The six of us squeezed into the limo, boys across from the girls, and went to dinner.

We met up with Samantha and some others at a swank restaurant; she'd swung us a good deal through a family connection. When we split up the bill, we figured it with a 20% tip, and though I assured Jake of this, he wasn't convinced we'd left enough. As we were leaving, I saw him duck back in and add a twenty to our tip.

As our limo pulled into the school parking lot, I watched other girls struggle out of cars and limos. Next to the red carpet the principal was announcing couples' names from a podium. Parents and underclassman stood beyond a rope watching everyone arrive. Because I was sitting in the middle, I focused all my energy on sliding across and climbing out gracefully.

I was relieved by my relative success. Jake and I walked down the red carpet arm in arm with none of the purse-dropping, shoe-losing, or tripping I'd seen minutes before.

Down the hall, outside of the gym was the professional prom photographer's setup. "Let's just get it out of the way," I suggested, hoping he could be a sport for one more photo. Liza and her date stood side by side and arm in arm under the white latticed arch. Click and they were done. When the photographer saw Jake and I, there must've been a glint in his eye that I missed. He put a stool under the arch and told Jake to sit. Jake rested his left foot on part of the stool and kept the other on the ground.

"Now you stand between his legs," the photographer directed me. If he's going for most awkward pose, he's succeeding, I thought to myself.

The photographer ducked behind his lens and popped up again. "Put your hands on his thigh, one over the other. Just like that, good. Now you," he pointed to Jake, "put your left hand over hers, and put your right around her waist." I turned my head to see how Jake was doing: he was as uncomfortable as I was.

"Straight ahead, please, and Smile!" The photographer commanded. Click. "Ok, you're done!"

We untangled ourselves and escaped into the gym. The juniors had truly transformed it from a basketball court to a ballroom. Jake stepped out the back for some air, and I caught up with some friends. "Stand up, turn around," "Let me see your dress," "You look great," they said in rapid succession.

Jake returned, and we danced a few dances, but it clearly wasn't his thing which I hadn't anticipated. Maybe it was the clothes. I loved to dance, but even I was feeling a bit subdued by my dress. Throughout the evening I kept pushing my strapless bra up, while sliding my dress down as inconspicuously as possible.

We went outside and looked at the stars for a while. His brooding guy persona had overtaken him. It never occurred to me that it might be difficult for him to be back at school, hearing about our college plans when he hadn't been able to go the past year. I was just there to have a good time, dance, and look good. Though there were some significant lulls, I mostly succeeded.

After the dance, none of our limo group had plans to stay up all night. None of us were dating seriously, so no one felt like watching videos until 6 AM. After the limo dropped a couple people off, the rest of us rode back to Liza's.

As Jake drove me home in his car, I sucked hard on a spearmint LifeSaver. He got out first, opened my door for me, and walked me up the front walkway I never used. The light was on over the front door. I scanned the windows wondering where my parents were and if they were awake. This was it. If either of us was going to make a move, it had to be soon.

As I reached the step in front of the door, a bush rustled, and a bat flew towards us. I jumped aside, and it flew between us dropping a load of guano in its wake. Jake let out a startled laugh, and I looked at him to assess the moment.


"I had a really good time tonight," I managed.

"Me too."

"Thank you for coming," I added warmly.

"I'm glad you asked me," he admitted.

Really? Then maybe there's... Oh, right, there's still this gulf between us, and it's streaked with fresh, wet bat shit.

"Well, goodnight," he said.


He turned and walked a few steps. When I opened the screen door, he stopped and looked back at me. "If you ever feel like doing something, give me a call."

I smiled and said, "Ok," and then, "Drive safe," before I stepped inside.


Rock 1: A week or so ago, I went to a huge gem & mineral show and picked up a rock chisel. If I'd had some serious cash, I could've dropped a lot of it there, but it was not to be. Anyway, I took my gear out in the yard today and gave it whack. Splitting rocks is very satisfying: following the grain of the rock, exploiting cracks and indentations, getting a clean break, and finding sparkly formations within. Much fun to be had once I find some rocks better suited to basic sculpting.

Rock 2: Despite my initial misgivings, I admit I've been watching Rock Star: INXS and even (gah) voting. The life-at-the-mansion and 3-note-piano-drama-building-music are tiresome, but some of the performances are really good. Being a longtime INXS fan, I do feel somewhat invested in this decision. That's really sad. I oughta be writing my local and state reps to keep tabs on the choices they're making for me.

24 August 2005

The Prom: Take Two (part 2)

(The sequel to Hamlet was my undoing: Parts I, II, III)

The Prom: Take Two (part 1)

For fuck's sake, are you not at the goddamn prom yet? Um, well, no. I swear when I decided to write this, I never thought it was going to reach the scope it has. If you've read the whole thing thus far, you totally rock and I appreciate it.

Part 2:

Asking turned out to be the easy part. I figured out what I was going to say, he was actually home when I called, and he agreed to go without any hesitation even though the prom was only a week away. After calling Liza to say we wanted in on the limo rental, there wasn't much I could do: stores would be closing in a few minutes if they hadn't already, and none of them would be open on Sunday.*

Mom picked me up from school on Monday, so we could start the dress hunt. I was at a serious disadvantage shopping this close to the prom because all the boutiques in the county networked so that no two girls would end up at the same prom in the exact same dress. In addition, I had no idea what I wanted since I hadn't given it any thought other than having some vague Prom Dress conception. The first two stores had nothing that I liked, so we got back in the car.

When I walked into the third dress store, there was Missy Fallon, the closest person to an arch nemesis that I had at my school, which is to say mainly that I disliked her immensely. She acted like an airhead, tormented people to elevate herself, and ruled her own clique. If my mom hadn't been with me, I would've ducked back out before Missy could see me.

I took a resigned breath, walked to a rack as far from her as I could, and started looking at dresses.

"Hey, Claire. Can I help you find anything?" Missy asked from behind me.

She works here. You're fucking kidding me.

"No. Thanks. I'm just looking right now," I replied.

"Ok." She was as chipper as ever. "You might want to check over here too. We've got some great dresses that will work for the prom that you could also wear to a semi-formal at college next year. I mean, why get a dress you can only wear once, right?"

"Right," I replied weakly. Apparently she couldn't tell I had my heart set on a Prom Dress.

Mom held up a few dresses she thought I would like. I took two and headed for the dressing room. Missy followed handing me her practical wear-more-than-once dress pick for me. "This would look great on you," she said. It was a short sheath cut dress in rayon with spaghetti straps. I admit that I liked its blues with hints of maroon and green. It was not the first nor last time someone would get excited by the prospect of dressing me up. Missy was eager and expectant, so I decided to try hers on first to get it out of the way.

I closed the curtain and took off my jeans and rugby shirt. I put my arms through the straps and tried to wiggle the dress down. It was too narrow and bunched up at my shoulders: I was stuck. I was trying to ease it off when Missy spoke from the other side of the curtain, "How's it fit?"

"It's too tight."

Her fingers closed around the edge of the curtain, peeling it back so she could peek in. She stifled a short giggle and said, "Here," as she opened the zipper along the side seam and stepped back out. The dress slid easily into place finally covering my underwear. Stupid hidden zippers, damn dresses!

"What do you think?" Missy asked.

I stepped out because my cubicle had no mirror. In the large three-sided mirror of the dressing area, my bra straps loomed conspicuously, and my cheeks were still flushed a violent red. The dress was fine but not at all what I wanted, and after my last few minutes experience with it, I never wanted to see it again.

"I think I'm going to try some other things on," I said as I pulled the curtain as closed as it would go on both sides. From then on, I scrutinized the dresses carefully for zippers, buttons, and fasteners of any kind before trying to put them on. Still nothing suited me. I was frustrated, worn out, and ready to give up.

"You could always wear a tux," Mom offered from the other side of the curtain.

I laughed because the idea had appeal, but said, "Nah," because I didn't have what it took to pull it off. Besides, I wanted to show off how great I could look if I felt like it.

Needing a respite, I pulled my jeans and shirt back on and took another circuit of the store.

"This looks comfy," Mom said, fingering some fabric. "Here, feel this." The rippled material had an easy stretch to it. It might actually be comfortable. When I pulled it off the rack, Mom added, "I didn't mean you had to try it on."

"No, I know," I replied as I carried it to my dressing room. It was a short green dress with puckered stretchy material for most of it, ending with loose cascading material landing above the knee, strapless with off-the-shoulder poofy bits like folded bows. It was comfortable.

Missy stood nearby as I looked in the mirror.

"Do you have this in blue?" I asked.

"Let me check."

Mom looked at me in the dress and said, "I like it," in a tone that meant she really did. I changed back into my clothes.

Missy returned and delivered the bad news, "Someone already bought it in blue. This is the only color we have it in."

I sighed and contemplated more dress shops, dressing rooms, and agony. "What do you think of this green?" I asked, holding up the dress for Mom to consider.

"I like it, I think it's good," Mom replied.

At that point, I'd had it and decided it was good enough. "Ok, let's get it."

"I'll take that for you," Missy said, as she took the dress and retrieved the hanger from the dressing room. "Ok, so you'll need shoes, hose, and a strapless bra," she continued. The blush returned to my cheeks; I desperately wanted to leave.

I glanced at the display of white shoes and dismissively said, "I don't think white shoes would look good with this."

"No, of course not. You get 'em dyed to match the dress," Missy explained.

"Really?" I looked to Mom for confirmation.

After finding a simple pair of flats, I plunked the shoe box down by the cash register. Mom suggested we get the rest from somewhere more reasonably priced. I was immensely relieved: I couldn't face any more embarrassment spawning from my ignorance of formal wear.

At least I had a dress...

*We did have a mall, but nobody bought their prom dress there in those days.
(names changed)


23 August 2005

The Prom: Take Two (part 1)

(The sequel to Hamlet was my undoing: Parts I, II, III)

In matters of romance, sometimes you want a second opinion. In high school, it's all about choosing the right person to ask, the one who will confirm the decision you want to make.

My best friend Liza- I reluctantly give her that title now as our friendship was based more on convenience than compatibility, trust, or supportiveness; it would not survive her dull letters* to me in college and her vocal homophobia. Liza would be noncommittal at best, "I guess, if you want to," but her tone would convey, "Well if you have to ask a boy to get a date, go ahead I guess, but your credibility will be even lower if he says no," as well as, "He graduated last year. Why would he want to go to the prom?" and even "Why ask him? What makes you think he'd say yes?"

She'd never known Jake to say more than hi to and didn't know much of anything about our friendship. Liza hadn't read the perfect note he'd written in my yearbook the year before that began: "What ho, Horatio?", referenced ice cream and graveyards, and ended with his phone number. She didn't know that if he was out when I called, that I could tell his parents were pulling for me as I left a message. I hadn't told her about the time Jake and I drove an hour to see a concert of women's world folk music because an old friend of mine was in the group; Jake was moved to tears (a subtle few) by the music and freely admitted it as part of his rave of the performance. Most of the things I liked about Jake were qualities Liza disdained: asking her opinion was out of the question.

My theater buddy Samantha was different. The previous fall we'd both been kings in the worst Shakespeare play I've ever read. She was no stranger to risk-taking.

"Sam! C'mere for a sec," I yelled over the intervening sophomore heads. Funky Cold Medina, a song I hated, was blaring from the DJ's speakers across the cafetorium. I'd been at the dance for a couple hours; I'd gone alone but was really enjoying myself with my friends. It got me thinking...

"Do you think it's worth going to the prom?"

"Yeah, it's gonna be great," Sam enthused. "We're going all out with the decorations." The junior class had decided to transform the gym, committing their time and talents to the task, so they could afford a live band.

"Do you think I should ask Jake?"

"Is he still around?" she countered. Apparently I kept talk of him close to the vest with everyone because I liked him.


"Cool. Sure, ask him."

It was Friday, and the prom was a week from Saturday. Sam nodded to some people behind me.

"You don't think it'd be weird if I asked him?" I pursued.

"Look," she began with finality, "I asked a guy I only met once before. It's not a big deal. I'm gonna go and have a good time."

I needed to stop being a wuss. "Right," I said, because she wasn't going to indulge my waffling anymore. Sam plunged back onto the dance floor. If I was ever going to go to a prom, it was going to be with Jake, so I just had to suck it up and ask him.

*e-mail still had a few years to go before becoming mainstream.
(names changed)


tip of the week- Bug Me Not

If you're sick of news sites and the like which are free but require registration, try BugMeNot.com. You just type in the website, click, and they offer up an account name and password to use, so you don't have to submit your info to yet another website.

21 August 2005

the complete audioblogs of TTaT

Run times are in minutes:seconds.

  • Audblog #23 (1:30) Donate and stand up straight!

  • Audblog #22 (0:53) If I don't come back...

  • Audblog #21 (1:04) More Novocaine

  • Audblog #20 (1:20) Novocaine

  • Audblog #19 (0:43) What goes up...

  • Audblog #18 (1:08) Inarticulate much?

  • Audblog #17 (1:23) Mom reinterprets a classic

  • Audblog #16 (1:03) Mall venture

  • Audblog #15 (0:48)

  • Audblog #14 (0:30)

  • Audblog #13 (0:40)

  • Audioblog #12 (0:31) Return to status quo

  • Audioblog #11 (0:39) Audioblogging in public

  • Audioblog #10 (0:23)

  • Audioblog #9 (0:37) It's never too late to call your blog

  • Audioblog #8 (1:48)

  • Audioblog #7 (0:11) Shot through the heart...

  • Audioblog #6 (0:35)

  • Audioblog #5 (1:21)

  • Audioblog #4 (0:43) At Last

  • Audioblog #3 (1:47) Dad and Lady Marmalade

  • Audioblog #2 (0:29) This week's guilty pleasure

  • Audioblog #1 (0:11) Welcome

  • tag:

    20 August 2005

    Hamlet was my undoing: Part III

    (Part I, Part II)

    Once I got my directorial bearings, we started running concurrent rehearsals. I had 45 minutes to work on a short scene with Jake and my friend Melanie. In the scene, the characters were basically making out while exchanging some lines. They wanted a chance to figure out some choreography first, and since I had no idea how to approach the scene, I sat back and watched. They would kiss, then he would kiss down her neck so she could deliver her lines; he would look up to deliver his. Jake rocked back on his heels, and they consulted their scripts. Melanie wasn't into him, but it was still hard to watch detachedly as they orchestrated kissing and line delivery no matter how professionally.

    "What do you think, Claire?" they asked.

    Shifting my gaze up from the floor in front of them, I said, "Yeah, I think that'll work."

    When we showed the scene to the director, she said, "That's a hundred times better than before. I should send all the hard scenes to you first." I smiled weakly not relishing the thought.

    Once the play was over, there were only a couple months of school left. I joined the prom committee, not because I cared much where it was held or what it looked like, but because it would be another activity I could put on my college applications the following year that wouldn't take up much time. Jake and I were still hanging out, so I was hoping he'd ask me. Technically, it was my junior prom and he was a senior, but our school was so small that we only held the one prom each year.

    Sitting in study hall doing my pre-calc homework one day, I overheard some seniors talking about the prom. "Nah, Jake's going. Justine's coming back for it."

    It was a world of slow-mo in that moment. His ninth-grader girlfriend from the fall who'd moved back to Texas was going to travel 2000 miles to go to the prom with him. My prom. Un-fucking-believable.

    My backup boy had gotten his balls together and asked his dream girl who said yes, so he wasn't available either. My best friend had a third-party proposition for me.

    "Would you consider going with Jason?"

    I rolled my eyes and sighed heavily. "You've got to be kidding me."

    "We could all go as a group. It wouldn't be like a date," she assured.

    It really couldn't get any worse. Jason was the biggest geek in our entire school, and he'd only been there for a year. Farmer Ted would've had a better shot. Jason was in my grade, but he was short, spastic, had eyebrows like Spock, and an unbecoming (and out of date by then) mullet. His locker was close to mine, so I would say hi to him and exchange a few sentences now and then. My niceness had come back to haunt me.

    "You won't be stuck with him all night. We'll hang out. It'll be fun," my best friend reiterated.

    I told her, "No. I'd rather not go at all." There was no way I was going to go with him just for the sake of going. I would not let that be immortalized in innumerable prom photos.

    Unfortunately, I was still on the prom committee and had agreed to help decorate on the day. At least it went quickly because there wasn't much that needed to be done to the banquet hall we'd rented.

    I'd decided to go see Pretty Woman by myself that night, but at the last moment my mom insisted on coming. I was livid, but tried to find solace in her buying the tickets and snacks. I'd wanted to escape for a couple hours, to wallow or laugh if I felt like it, to get sucked into a story and forget my life for a while, but that was hard to enjoy with my mom next to me. Instead, I leaned away from her in my seat and scowled through the previews and beginning of the movie. I resented her for imposing; I did not want or need a shoulder to cry on.

    The next day, I had no regrets about not going. No one had any great stories, and I never liked dressing up; without the right guy, it wasn't worth the effort.

    (and now the sequel, The Prom: Take Two)

    (names changed to suit my whims)

    Hamlet was my undoing: Part II

    (part I)

    "How about LA Story?" I suggested.

    "It was really good..."


    "...I'd see it again. Really," Jake finished.

    I should've believed him. When I finally saw it on video a few years later, I cursed myself for trying to be so accommodating: LA Story would've been the perfect chaser to our Hamlet experience. Instead we settled on The Hand That Rocks The Cradle. Jake kind of laughed when the gynecologist eased his glove off pre-exam; I avoided watching most of the uncomfortable scene. A molesting gynecologist intro does not a date movie make, if we were even on a date. He was still trying to pay for everything, but otherwise we were just friends.

    With spring came the spring play, Noel Coward's Hayfever. There wasn't a role suited to me, so I wasn't cast. This had always meant relegation to the tech crew, or at best becoming the stage manager, if I still wanted to participate. Several of my performer friends were seniors: this was my last chance to work with them, but stage managing held no allure. Fortunately, the director was ready to try something new: she offered me an assistant director position. I would help her out, be another pair of eyes at rehearsals, and even work with the actors on my own. I was nervous. She was only 24, but that was enough to separate her from us; they would listen to her. I told her I'd do my best.

    Even though I was directing, I still participated in the warm-ups, voice classes, and other theater exercises. Hayfever included several romantic entanglements, so it was important the cast feel comfortable with each other. Not all the actors would have to kiss, but we all had to go through the almost kiss exercise. In boy-girl pairs, we were supposed to move in as close as possible as if to kiss; knowing there would be no kiss was supposed to help us feel more comfortable in close proximity. The director would call, "Switch," and we'd turn away and change partners.

    I was pleased to find I wasn't the most self-conscious person there. I could trust in the rules of the exercise, but some of the guys couldn't. One started to pull back when we were a foot apart, and another was so twitchy I couldn't get within three feet of him. With Jake, there was no pulling back. The slightest lean forward would accomplish the task, but then he turned his head and walked away. It was time to switch again.


    (names changed to suit my whims)

    Hamlet was my undoing: Part I

    Rehearsals for the play were coming along, my Horatio to his Hamlet, but we lacked the chemistry of steadfast friends because we'd only just met. Jake was new, not the been-here-three-years-still-new of my small town, but the just-moved-here-for-his-senior-year new.

    "What ho, Horatio!" With the paucity of male talent at my school, it was not unusual for girls to end up with male roles.

    "Here sweet Lord, at your service." To seed this bond we were to portray, we were given homework: spend time together, perhaps in a graveyard. We agreed with ease.

    He picked me up in his little rust-colored car one afternoon, and I directed him to my favorite cemetery in town. We sauntered through the 100 year old tombstones together; mostly I listened to him talk because I didn't know what to say. I'd always loved this graveyard, so it's no wonder I had trouble summoning the fear and awe required for some of Horatio's early speeches. After a stretch of silence as we walked, Jake suggested ice cream.

    We drove to a nearby shop, and he insisted on paying for me though I protested. This was the beginning of years of baffling male behavior: the leftover need to pay for women even when they're not on a date. At the time, I really wasn't sure what it meant, if anything.

    Rehearsals continued, and since Horatio isn't in many scenes without Hamlet, I saw a lot of him. He was refreshingly tall and nicely proportioned for his moderate frame, dirty blonde, with a longer section on top that flopped across- just the thing to run your fingers through. Sometime along the way, I discovered the distasteful fact that he had a ninth-grader girlfriend. She was also new that year, so maybe that was part of the bond. It's actually possible he told me this when we first hung out, thereby making the ice cream issue all the more baffling.

    The Hamlet experience was intense for nearly everyone involved: it's a heavy play. Our performances went well and left us charged with adrenaline at each curtain call. We had one performance left- we were to be part of a Shakespeare festival comprised of high schools from all over the county- when Jake got some bad news: his girlfriend was moving back to Texas in a couple weeks.

    "That's too bad," I said, while inwardly doing the math. She'd be gone early to mid-December leaving Jake plenty of time to get over her, so he could take me to the prom.


    (names changed)

    18 August 2005

    Furry thing

    As is often my evening snack custom, I pulled the box of chocolate, brownie, caramel, something ice cream from the freezer. The box was within in a plastic grocery bag to prevent lollaphalizing*. The bag crinkled as I pulled it back, and from the living room Mom yelled, "Are you getting ice cream?"

    "You're like a furry thing hearing a can opener," I yelled back after thinking dog and cat, but deciding they might come across as offensive.


    Furry thing was now seeming the poorer choice. "You're like a furry thing hearing a can opener."

    Her recliner clunked down and Mom entered the kitchen laughing.

    "Like a pet hearing the can opener," I tried to explain.

    "No, I get it. I didn't hear the can opener part the first time. I just heard you say you thought I was like a 'furry thing' and thought squirrel."

    "Squirrelly maybe," I said laughing. "So you see yourself as a squirrel?"

    She shook her head at the absurdity of it and kept laughing as she pulled down a bowl for herself from the cupboard.

    *Dammit all if I can't find it to check its spelling, but my dessert is melting so I must mush on (forgive the pun).

    Just ten more minutes

    I'm itching to go outside; it's really too perfect to sit inside, but I'm holding via speakerphone. 6 minute wait it tells me. Better than the over 10 that made me bail the last three times I tried over the last few days.

    Grrr. I'm all twitchy, ready to pounce on the handset, but they're just repeating more useless info between the calming Gershwin-like tunes. Until later...

    Well after all the hassle involved in getting an answer, I was informed they couldn't do what I was asking. Serious ggrrr. All I wanted to do was make a large (16x20 or maybe even larger) enlargement of a photo. They offer this on their site, but not on their paper ordering forms. Turns out 12x18 is as large as they can make an enlargement from a negative, the other sizes must be made from digital scans. The whole thing just grates because the larger you get, the less good scans will look. With their file size limitations, a blow-up from a negative will always be crisper. I get that the printers used have different capabilities... it's just frustrating.

    Now I'm really going outside. With a book and something to drink. And I'm gonna stay there.

    **2nd UPDATE**
    Ok, so not so much calm outdoor reading as get in my car, blast the radio, and hit the gas. Ran an errand I'd been putting off for weeks so I'd feel like I'd accomplished something today, walked a couple laps of my short but moderately steep street, and watched the rest of my day not really go my way. Loaded up on carbs at dinner so that feels good for the moment; if I can put my finger on what to write, I might just salvage my mood.

    Helena's written some great tales of her teenage experience of late, and I'm looking to reciprocate, but my memories feel fractured, and the ones in the right vein, unpleasant. In some respects, her tales have reminded me how much my current life has had teenage-like overtones and why the drama-free life of a hermit so often becomes my sanctuary.

    16 August 2005

    Advanced sleep

    I had another vivid dream this morning, but it's content was more disjointed than the previous two, so I won't try to recount the whole thing here. One distinct moment, however, made me feel like a sleep master.

    In the dream, I was lying down and couldn't keep my eyes open, so I fell asleep while actually being asleep. It was the refreshing sleep of an afternoon nap in the sun that just felt great.

    15 August 2005

    Comment spam

    FYI, I'm going to start deleting any comments I receive that include excerpts from other blogs and advertise websites that are entirely irrelevant to the posts and other content here on ttat.

    I like checking out other people's blogs, so links are welcome as long as it's not scattershot advertising.

    tip of the week- Adult Swim fans

    If there's any particular show you watch regularly on adult swim, be vigilant of their ever-changing schedule. Shows sometimes change slots before the switch is advertised, and lately they've been airing things off-hour, e.g., starting at --:56 or --:34. The catch is that they aren't consistent about it from day to day.

    If you're on the East coast and miss a chunk of your show due to one of these irritating switches, the adult swim shows re-air 3 hours later.

    I guess for most of their shows it's not a big deal, but I'm really fond of Inuyasha which is episodic.

    13 August 2005

    Absolutely mine

    I had the house to myself for the night: the house I lived in from 4 to 13, my favorite of all I've ever lived in. Sometimes I return to it in my dreams; the house maintains more of its true character than most dream representations. In the dream as well as life, I hadn't been there in a long time. I bent some blinds open with my fingers and looked out into the dark.

    The middle of the house was indented slightly, so I could see across to the moonlit end set forward. A large, though lanky, tiger walked through the intervening shadows. I felt no fear because I knew this tiger from before somehow.

    The night drew late, but I couldn't sleep, so I kept wandering the dark house. From upstairs, I looked out the front windows. A three-story tall portico now ran the length of the building lined with massive columns. There was some scaffolding; work was being done on the house. Day was breaking.

    I looked down and saw Jake, my high school crush though crush is the wrong word. He was the tall, dirty blonde, moody, year-ahead-of-me guy I fell for who was initially taken and later oblivious to my feelings for him. After he graduated, he didn't go to college, but remained in the area to help with his dad's business. He was here now to work with the construction crew, much like Dean (who reminds me of him) worked construction at the inn after high school in The Gilmore Girls.

    It was still early, so the rest of the crew hadn't arrived; Jake was killing time. He threw a rubber ball at the ground so it would bounce off a column, hit the roof, another column, the ground, and then return to him, but it went astray. He looked up, saw me, asked if I was all right and apologized. I went downstairs and outside to see him. He'd removed his yellow hardhat and was looking at the ground. He asked if I'd lost a tooth. I felt around with my tongue and said no, but then saw what he was looking at. There was no blood on it or any fleshy matter, so I picked up the tooth. It was a molar. With tooth evidence in hand, I reconsidered and said, "Maybe."

    I found a mirror and stretched back my lips to see. The gap of my previously long-absent tooth had been increased by this new loss, but that was not bad news. The gap was now large enough to accommodate two small fake teeth.

    In life, I am missing a tooth (though from a different location in the dream). When I had braces, my orthodontist tried to preserve the gap, so I could get a bridge. When my braces were removed (and even before), any fool could see that the gap was too small, so after a few months' freedom, I got the braces back on to close the gap.

    When I looked at my mouth again in the dream, the tooth was not entirely gone, but broken off horizontally. A wire hung out from the back of my mouth as though it had been attached to a brace on the broken tooth but had slipped loose of it. I went back inside to call my dentist, though I could not find the right number no matter where I looked. When I thought I had it, I kept misdialing and had to start over repeatedly. Even when I dialed it correctly, it turned out the number was for some other business that had never heard of my dentist.

    Dad returned home without Mom, so with some difficulty, I asked where she was . For no reason, my jaw locked up, so I was speaking through clenched teeth. It was still early, so I had felt like I could call the dentist later, but the stakes were rising, and it was important I get in to see someone that day, so I resumed looking through my files and the yellow pages for the number without success.

    Dad said that Mom was trying to convince the guy to land in the yard to drop her off.

    A small two-seater plane landed in front of the house, spinning around 180 degrees with flourish. It had a beautiful paint job of stylized blue flames across its wings. The construction crew gathered around it as Mom stepped out with a smile.

    Then, as though I realized there was no reason (which is precisely what happened), my jaw was free again and without pain.

    As compared to my last dream, this one always felt entirely like mine even though its meanings felt more obscure. Maybe that was the point of having someone else as the protagonist in my previous dream: clarity is easier to realize externally.

    Audioblogging in public (#11)

    this is an audio post - click to play
    (run time 0:39)

    12 August 2005


    mogh•go's, originally uploaded by nomad claire.

    Because I can't stop myself.

    Read why here.

    11 August 2005

    Free to be... Worf and Me

    Free to be... Worf and Me, originally uploaded by nomad claire.

    If you've been following along, you saw my first attempt, De La Worf.

    To enter the contest, visit Nickerblog.

    To view many other wonderful Worf coverband album covers, visit the gallery.

    Not my dream

    The protagonist was about 5'5" with straight black shoulder-length hair and brown skin, Latina perhaps. A male friend stood nearby having just driven with her from somewhere several days drive away; he was keeping her company and helping her check into her apartment in LA. A young blonde co-ed stood by the apartment doorway and read a name off her clipboard. The protag frowned and stated her name which was slightly different.

    "Ah, right," the co-ed said. It was the next name down on her list; she crossed it off and let them in.

    Protag and her Male Friend walked into the empty apartment. The low grade pile of gray carpet was covered with crumbs, dirt, and other small debris. It wasn't terrible, but protag commented that she'd always vacuumed before she moved out to avoid cleaning fees. MF agreed and suggested she complain to the landlord, but Protag remembered she hadn't had to pay a security deposit for this place, so it was to be expected. Besides all of her duffels and boxes from the car were already there resting on the floor.

    MF suggested ordering in, but Protag didn't want to eat sitting on the floor in its current state. She had some ideas of where to eat having lived in LA before, near but not exactly in this neighborhood. As they walked down the long hall of the second floor, they entered the mall section. It included elements reminiscent of the Tallahassee Mall and the Metreon in San Francisco, but also, apparently, included an apartment complex. An escalator plunged down into the food court; a bowling alley was further down the hall on the ground level; an arcade dinged, beeped, and flashed lights in the periphery. Sensory overload.

    They walked back to the apartment. The door was open and a young woman was unloading her stuff. The co-ed stood next to her and crossed her name off the list. The young woman had the name the co-ed had originally said.

    Before Protag could vocalize her protest, the landlord showed up to fix the mix-up. "Get your stuff and follow me," the short, gruff old man said as he strode away. There was too much to carry and they were losing him. Protag found a shopping cart that someone had left behind, filled it with stuff and took off after the old man. MF grabbed what he could and followed.

    At the end of the hall, Protag saw the old man step onto a steep escalator going up. After three flights up, she stood on the narrow landing between the up escalators to wait for MF. The old man was nowhere to be seen, but they continued up looking for him and for her apartment. Around the tenth flight, they overheard a tenant comment to another that it was better to get off at the 13th floor.

    Protag and MF continued up. At the 14th floor, they stepped off to check the hallway for the landlord. Two thugs stood in front of the restaurant kitchen style doors. They walked past, but Protag felt uneasy. The old man wasn't there. A woman on a balcony above them said, "You're really better off getting off on the 13th floor."

    MF and Protag walked between the thugs again without incident, but started their way down. They found the landlord's office: she was now a middle-aged woman, heavyset and friendly; she invited them in, pointing out where they should sit. There was paperwork to complete.

    The landlord fanned out a bunch of business card sized coupons: Parking, 1 credit; Laundry, 1 credit; and others. Protag wondered what 1 credit was good for and if she was also going to have to pay to park under the mall. The landlord slid the lease agreement across her desk and waited for Protag to sign. I shared Protag's perspective and pushed the lease slightly away from me.

    "What's the matter, honey?" the landlord asked.

    I looked over at MF and then back at the landlord, "To be honest, if I'd been living here and looking at apartments, I never would've considered this place. I didn't know it was a high-rise." Suddenly the crumb-covered apartment on the second floor seemed very appealing even though the surroundings would probably be loud. "And I'm concerned about security; I don't feel safe here."

    The landlord looked at me with understanding. I wondered if she'd let MF and I stay a few days, so I could find another place to live, or at least the night because it was getting late. The options ran through my head: I could offer to pay her a prorated amount- even if I paid more than that as incentive, it would still be less than a motel. I considered seeing if I could stay with friends but nixed the idea; they'd already done enough and I wanted to do this (aside from MF) on my own. Maybe this is another sign I don't belong in LA, maybe I should go back where I came from, I thought to myself. I looked at the landlord and tried to gauge what she would respond to; I wasn't sure how much I had committed to living in her high-rise, but I knew I didn't want to.

    The dream didn't start with me, but it certainly became my story.

    10 August 2005

    De La Worf

    Visit Nickerblog to see more Worf coverbands.

    Denim's old age

    When I pulled my favorite shorts out of the washer yesterday, I noticed they'd taken a substantial hit: a sizable string-covered hole had appeared below the right rear pocket. Aside from the large gaps on the legs, there have long been small holes by the pocket corners, belt loops trying to break free, and white strings all along the top of the frayed waistband, wild like untrimmed old man eyebrows. This most recent hole is a new level of deterioration: I should start paying more attention to my underwear.

    Just a few days earlier, I'd been praising my Levi's to my dad since I'd had those shorts since the late 90s. Longer actually, now that I'm noticing the proof has been sitting on my desk for a couple weeks. Along with the faded denim, I purchased the same pair of shorts in navy. Not navy like dark jeans, but navy blue that happens to be denim. I bought them for grad school because Tallahassee is hot, but I still wanted something sturdy to wear when I was working on sets.

    After my grandfather died, the family took what we wanted and then auctioned the rest off, including the house. It's been a few years, but my mom is still finding stuff in the paperwork she took to give me. A couple of weeks ago, she handed me a newspaper clipping I'd sent to my granddad. I know I have a copy of my own already, so this one's been resting here while I ponder sending it to a long absent friend whose address may no longer be current.

    The article is really just a photo essay of a student film I shot in downtown Tallahassee, but it includes shots of me wearing my navy Levi shorts. Judging from the date on the paper, the life span of heavily worn pre-faded denim shorts is about a decade.

    09 August 2005


    Finished On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt this afternoon. Hmm, amazon.com says it has 80 pages- that must be including title pages and all the blanks; it only has 67; it's really just a small essay formatted into a hardcover the size of a snapshot. I knew that going in, but I expected better content.

    He starts off talking about what he doesn't know how to research, but how he'll take a half-assed shot at exploring the term bullshit anyway (I paraphrase). The first two-thirds of the essay dully relates "bullshit" to other words or phrases that other people wrote about; he agrees and disagrees and uses some strange examples which sound more like bullshit by example than analysis. The final 20-25 pages struck more my interest by theorizing why its use is so prevalent these days. (I had thought that was the thrust of the whole book.)

    The author was on The Daily Show a while back, and I agree with Jon Stewart's comments. The most interesting thing from the book is the idea that to lie, you must know the truth, but you need not know it to bullshit. With bullshit, you don't really care what is true or false, you just want to mislead someone to perceive you in a particular way.

    My overall impression of the essay is eh. It's short if you feel like reading it, but I wouldn't spend money on it.

    08 August 2005


    It's been a low blood sugar day, but I'm doing better now post-dinner. Snacks may be required in the near future though.

    I bought a quart of milk yesterday when I was feeling all gung-ho about drinking 24 oz. of milk a day. A tall glass at dinner wouldn't be so bad, I thought, but when I got home tonight, I just couldn't do it. Maybe later dosed up with the Nestle Quik I bought. Of course a low calorie diet and exercise are also listed when milk's weight loss benefits are described so we'll see. Plan B is just to figure I'll lose the ten pounds I've gained this year once I move out and my poor single eating habits resume. The poundage is fine for my ample height; I'm just bothered by the shift in how my clothes fit. Argh, I've become one of those women. Really should resume working out in more than the most minimal fashion, then the fit would adjust even if the numbers don't.

    Don't forget The Closer tonight at 9 on TNT.

    My bank sent me a baseball hat today. Though obviously for marketing, it still seems strange to me.

    Most unusual search request coming up with my blog to date: blog spanked OR spanking OR spank "audio post"
    Um, not on my blog yet. ;]

    tip of the week- tennis anyone?

    I'm not much into reality shows, but I find Venus & Serena: For Real intriguing. Their family and background is really interesting, but what hooks me is watching professional competitors deal with victory, injury, and defeat, as well as seeing their ambition wash over into their lives beyond the tennis court. Wednesdays at 10 pm on ABC Family (re-aired some other times during the week).

    06 August 2005

    3 waggers

    I was out buying a birthday present for my niece: she's going to be two though it looks like the really cool toys start happening at three if you go by the age recs. Anyway, I was driving home and realized I hadn't seen the head-butting pygmy goats out by the farm in quite a while. The last few times I'd driven the back way home, it had been past their bedtime, so they were in for the night.

    As I neared the farm today, I slowed down and got to see three multi-colored pygmy goats standing in a little triangle all wagging their tails. "Little goats!" I exclaimed according to my recent custom. Hanging out in the small grassy field on this blue sky-puffy cloud day, they looked happy.
    pygmy goat

    No justice

    I know this isn't new news, but it continues to bother me. This makes no sense:

    "Associate Attorney General Robert D. McCallum Jr. said the government's penalty reduction came after it concluded it could seek funds to cover cessation programs only for people who become addicted to tobacco in the near future.

    That was the result of an appeals court ruling that said the government could not legally force the tobacco industry to pay $280 billion for allegedly ill-gotten past profits from tobacco sales.

    Forgive me if I use a little common sense, but isn't the idea that legal punishment relates to what's been done as opposed to what will transpire in the future?

    This Doonesbury strip distills the reduced settlement to its essence. Fuckers.

    04 August 2005

    Victoire! Victoire!

    I feel like I'm hearing the chanting from that Stallone movie. Just talked to my bro for a little over two hours after experiencing some hesitation. He was pretty groggy at first and not very talkative, but eventually tv became a good jumping off point, and he was soon his know-it-all self.

    Amusingly, he railed on blogs for a while without knowing about this one. I made a few comments, but mainly let the rant run its course: sometimes that's the wiser choice.

    Best of all were a couple moments of complete agreement:
    him: Do statistics ever make you mad?
    me: ?
    him: Like how they quote statistics all the time now. 1 in 10 people say cows are blue.
    me: And they only polled 10 people.
    him: Right, or...
    me: Or they say that that means you should drink more milk.
    him: Yes!
    me: Absolutely!

    him: I think exit polls should be illegal.
    me: Me too!!!!

    Ah, siblings. It's nice to know we do have a few things in common.

    Happy birthday, bro!

    Anytime after six

    I was patiently waiting for the 5 o'clock hour to end so I could call my brother to wish him a happy birthday. With only a few minutes left, I decided to lie on the floor in my room after cranking up the iTunes volume in here. I used to lie on the floor all the time in college; it helped me relax and provided a welcome change of perspective.

    The hard support of the floor felt good as I relaxed into it, songs by Alanis Morissette drifting in. I thought of Buffet's dislike of her smashed together lyrics. I told myself I'd get up when another artist came on: I was procrastinating what I'd been eager to do several minutes before.

    The conversation my brother and I always seem to have now replayed in my mind. When he asks what I'm doing, planning, going to do, I just want to say: it's the same loser-y answers as always, so let's talk about you; but it's his birthday, so I don't want to make him feel badly. So now I'm trying to psyche myself up to answer questions for which I have no compelling or promising answers. It's been a long time since he's had a reason to be proud of me. I must seem a morass of wasted potential; but then he doesn't really know me anymore.

    Pants on fire

    I recently finished reading Telling Lies: Clues to deceit in the marketplace, politics, and marriage by Paul Ekman, and I admit feeling some vindication.
    There are two primary ways to lie: to conceal and to falsify. In concealing, the liar withholds some information without actually saying anything untrue. (p.28)
    Sound familiar? Yup, a lie of omission is still a lie. Not convinced? Try this:
    In my definition of a lie or deceit, then, one person intends to mislead another, doing so deliberately, without prior notification of this purpose, and without having been explicitly asked to do so by the target. (p.28)
    The prior notification and explicit asking apply to things like playing poker, negotiating to buy a car, or watching actors perform. I concede that sometimes there are good reasons to lie (e.g. admitting a rescue mission is underway in enemy territory would jeopardize lives), but when it's over and the truth comes out, let's not deny having lied.

    As for all the other lies, I think I'd feel a little better if the liar, having been caught or having confessed, wouldn't try to pin the fault on me.

    But you never asked...

    Oh please. Suck it up and admit you lied (omitted) because it was advantageous to you so I won't be distracted from kicking your ass to the curb.

    Audioblog #10!

    this is an audio post - click to play
    (run time 0:23)

    It's never too late to call your blog (#9)

    this is an audio post - click to play
    (run time 0:37)

    02 August 2005

    line of the day

    I decided there and then that if I had fluorescent lights in my closet at home, I would develop the body image of an Olsen twin.

    The whole post is entertaining, but this is the line that made me laugh out loud and made my day better for it. I should read Bunny's blog more often. Into the links!

    01 August 2005

    bonus tip

    When you don't get the answer you want, try asking your question from a different angle.

    tip of the week

    Another Monday, another tip.

    Do not say "I'm sorry you're upset" in lieu of an apology for whatever actually made the person upset (unless you want to piss them off).