28 February 2007

Civic duty

I'm good about voting: I do my research, get my checklist together, and go fill out my ballot. However, I must confess that I have no desire to go to a town meeting. It's another vote, but the whole experience will be entirely different. Instead of going to the town hall whenever during the day, this will be at the high school with everyone there at once and will assuredly take much longer.

The vote is even a bit redundant in some respects. A ballot initiative was passed but now a bylaw must be altered so that it can go into effect. The catch is that the initiative only passed after a recount since the initial margin was a loss by 2 votes. This secondary vote could easily make the recount moot.

Politics is such a pain in the ass.

UPDATE: Ok, it's more than that. It's not just any high school.... it's at my high school that as far as memory serves I have not set foot in since I graduated. I'm not in the mood to run into old teachers and other people's parents to have them ask what I'm doing now. I keep reminding myself that mostly, I will probably only need to wave or say hello. Urgh. I need to go find something else to wear.

One year ago at TTaT: Compulsive behavior
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27 February 2007

There's no doubt

Helen Mirren is an elegant knockout. In the frenzy of post-Oscar recaps, this may seem a late observation.

Let me assure you: I've been a genuine Helen Mirren fan for over a decade. Get your hands on Painted Lady if you can and all seven installments of Prime Suspect to start. I still have more to see myself, and I'm greatly looking forward to it.

One year ago at TTaT: Cloudy Skyline

24 February 2007

Better storm aesthetics

Last week's Valentine's Day blizzard was so windy that the snow never stuck to the trees. By comparison, this Thursday's snowstorm was tame and pleasing to watch. Looking out the windows Friday, I was inspired to do something I hadn't in over a year and a half: take out my camera and shoot.

Sure, I've taken some stray photos and digital shots with other people's cameras, but a cursory search indicates that I haven't shot a roll of film in my own camera since April 2005. That feels crazy to me, but I know I wasn't feeling it. Friday I was, so I got my gear together, bundled up, and went out.

A breezy 20 degrees is mad cold for working without gloves. Fingerless gloves next time. To negate any shivering, I kept my shutter speed fast, so hopefully that worked out. I also borrowed my dad's point and shoot to take some digital shots.

The sun broke through for a few brief moments, but it seems I took those shots on film. It almost surprises me that I blew through an entire 36 exposure roll and even more digital shots in under 20 minutes. Almost.

sculpture in winter

snow-covered chairs

snowy evergreens

snowy branch
And after much melting today,
Icicle Window

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23 February 2007

My connection to George Clooney

Yes, I ended up watching most of Oprah's Oscar special after Grey's last night. George and I both have forehead scars from dogs that we got when we were five. I'm pretty sure he said he was five.

Anyway, I just wanted to take this moment to revel in the ridiculousness that is me thinking how cool it is that we have this thing in common. Go-to conversation starter for George Clooney: check. My scar has a purpose now! ;)

One year ago at TTaT: Why wasn't it me?
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22 February 2007

Mind Hacks

If like me, you're interested in how and why your brain works the way it does, I think you'll consider Mind Hacks an extraordinarily cool blog. The posts are full of fascinating info with reference links to articles and books on all sorts of topics.

The current front page alone has posts on:
why email is addictive,
the neurochemistry of orgasm,
how "patterns in the iris of the eye can give an indication of personality,"
greeting cards for mental illnesses,
the psychology of polyamory,
and using virtual reality to treat combat trauma.

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plus or minus 4000 miles

For convenience, here is an index of the most massive of all currently existing sagas at TTaT in which I leave San Francisco and drive cross country. It is presented in chronological order, but for the most part need not be read sequentially to be understood. If a particular image or locale strikes your fancy, go for it. The only exceptions are the subsections of The Screws of the Man and The Last Day is just the Beginning.

If you'd just like to check out my photos, you can see them all here on Flickr.

TRIP PREP: Getting my money's worth out of AAA.

THE SCREWS OF THE MAN: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3: Trials of parking and permits in San Francisco.

studio 1
Part 1: What I was leaving,

studio 2
Part 2: Last looks.

NV road
Day 1: San Francisco, CA to Winnemucca, NV. Reno, Ghost town hunt, Scott Shady.

CoLDS Conference Center
Day 2: Winnemucca, NV to Nephi, UT. Driving endurance, Salt Lake City, severe weather.

Capitol Reef
Day 3: Nephi, UT to Torrey, UT. Fire?, Mom's Cafe, Capitol Reef National Park.

orchard with deer
Day 4: Torrey, UT. Capitol Reef National Park, orchards, Anasazi petroglyphs, hiking missteps.

North Window
Day 5: Torrey, UT to Moab, UT. Hollow Mountain, Arches National Park, climbing down is more difficult than climbing up.

rock fins
Day 6: Moab, UT. Arches National Park, big horn sheep, Lin Ottinger's Moab Rock Shop.

Day 7: Moab, UT to Limon, CO. Friendly Moab-ians, driving over the Rockies, Oscar's Steak House.

Day 8: Limon, CO to Abilene, KS. Plains, Central Time, an unexpected call.

Kansas City skyline
Day 9: Abilene, KS to Concordia, MO. Waiting out weather, Union Station, Biffle's Smoke House BBQ.

Gateway Arch
Day 10: Concordia, MO to Troy, IL. Ozarkland, Nostalgiaville, The Gateway Arch.

Grandpa's Cheesebarn
Days 11-14: Troy, IL to Richfield, OH. Old friends in Indianapolis and Columbus, Easton Town Center, Grandpa's Cheesebarn, The Boneyard.

Day 15: Richfield, OH and thereabouts. An unexpected question from L, chitchat with Ed.

Day 16: Richfield, OH and thereabouts. Another fire?, time to kill, the button-pressing of L and me.

Heinz Memorial Chapel
Days 17-19: Richfield, OH to home. Cleveland Museum of Art, navigating Pittsburgh, visiting Boo and Sugar, Carnegie Museums, Heinz Memorial Chapel, Cathedral of Learning.

One year ago at TTaT: Another Wednesday Rolls Around
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21 February 2007

Today's follow-up

Is passive-aggressive behavior still passive-aggressive if no one notices you're doing it?

Keeping Score

Common wisdom seems to say that keeping score is a bad idea, but is it true? Is the running tally of successes and failures, who did what when lasts, betrayals and confidences learned behavior or something innate to humans? Or innate to certain people?

If you let everything go, then aren't you striving for a state in which you care less? Will this post be comprised entirely of questions? I suppose the idea is to care less about what isn't important.

Proponents of the no-score approach often state that you'll feel better and that the more open you are, the more you give, the more good will come to you. As a generality, I can buy that; it's the specifics (which by their nature must involve some discernment) that I take issue with.

Having no sense of score feels like it would entail accepting that some people will consistently fall short of what I want from them. Expectations can lead to dangerous territory, but within any relationship, they exist. There are no set definitions for all the various relationships a person can have though, and maybe that's the catch.

I could write more, but I'm fading. My thoughts are getting harder to articulate and do not seem to be rounding the bend towards resolution, so I'm going to call it a night. Sweet dreams.

One year ago at TTaT: The Gargle is On

19 February 2007

The Road is my Favorite Place: Days 17-19

(Days: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 11-14, fifteen, sixteen)

2/ix/04 to 4/ix/04: Richfield, OH to home

DAY 17 (Thursday): Richfield to Cleveland and back

Back on the road by myself was just the thing, even if only for a short while. The Cleveland Museum of Art had an impressive collection, good chunks of everything including several rooms of Egyptian stuff and a hall of arms & armor. Also representative works by many major artists, not just the early or late fare many museums include just to say they have works by a certain artist. A beautiful building with fantastic presentation.

The day was gorgeous, so I spent some time outside by the lagoon in the Fine Arts garden: a nice grassy landscaped area with fountains, sculptures, and trees. A large vandalized- but still appealing- study of Rodin's Thinker presided over the scene.

After a peaceful, restorative afternoon, I drove back South to have dinner with Ed and L. Since they weren't that familiar with restaurants near their new home, I took them to The Boneyard.

Ed had lived in Pittsburgh before, so after dinner he showed me his city maps. (I'd tried to get one from a AAA office the day before, but they were out.) Pittsburgh looked like a mad tangle of curving roads divided by three rivers. Ed made a few suggestions of things to see and do, but all I really cared about was seeing my friend Boo. I thanked him and said my goodbyes, relieved to be moving on, literally.

DAY 18 (Friday): Richfield, OH to Pittsburgh to New Castle, PA

I'd made plans to meet up with Boo and her grandmother Sugar for a late (but not too late) lunch in Pittsburgh, so I got on the road and hauled some ass after I checked out. Sugar was along for the trip because Boo was 7 1/2 months pregnant and her husband couldn't make it. Ever the pragmatist (and quite the spitfire), Sugar had packed scissors for cutting the umbilical cord just in case.

When I was 30 miles away, I called Boo for final directions to their hotel. She warned me that Sugar liked to keep to her schedule and was getting hungry. I told her I thought I'd be there in half an hour, only ten minutes late from when we'd originally planned.

I rolled into Pittsburgh in twenty minutes as I'd expected to but then got lost in the downtown financial district. The signage didn't quite match up with the directions Boo had given me, there was nowhere to pull over, and I didn't have a map of downtown anyway. The streets were one way often shunting me towards one of the many bridges crossing the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. I knew I needed to cross the Monongahela, but crossing the wrong bridge would render the rest of Boo's directions useless. I knew I was running progressively more late, but there was too much traffic and too many turns to negotiate for me to be able to safely manage my cell.

It was the most difficult city to navigate that I'd yet encountered. Of course, navigating in a new city is always more difficult when you have to arrive somewhere specific at a particular time. After thirty minutes of looping around blocks downtown, I found the street which led to the correct bridge. As soon as I parked, I called Boo to let her know I'd arrived and started apologizing while I walked to the hotel. My profuse apologies continued when when I met up with Boo and Sugar in the lobby. I was relieved that both accepted my apology and that Sugar didn't seem to hold it against me.

The Sheraton's restaurant was closed between meals, but the bar had a small menu so we ate there to keep things simple. Meeting Sugar was a real treat. All of my grandparents had been dead for years and none felt quite so up-to-date as her or had her independence and love of adventure- at least not when I knew them anyway. She peppered me with questions about my life while Boo looked on with an amused smile.

It was sort of an odd catching up but a pleasant one, because Sugar reassured me that it was ok that I didn't know what I was going to do next.

After lunch, we headed out to do some sight-seeing: Sugar driving and Boo navigating, a regular Laurel & Hardy routine that made me feel better about getting lost earlier. We picked up Boo's friend Greg who was working on an advanced degree at Carnegie Mellon.

Carnegie Museum of Natural HistoryAfter discussing options of where to go, we stopped at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. It turned out to be twenty to closing, so we told Sugar it wasn't worth it since she'd offered to treat, but she convinced the ticket guy to let us in for free. It just goes to show that it doesn't hurt to ask.

The four of us breezed through The Heinz Architectural Center and Hall of Sculpture (both actually part of the Carnegie Museum of Art), as well as the PaleoLab. I loved the Hall of Architecture.

Heinz Memorial Chapel
I took a few shots of the museum from outside before we headed over to the Heinz Memorial Chapel. Although there was a wedding rehearsal going on, they let us walk down the side aisles for a peek at the intricate woodwork and stained glass windows. Within the chapel, there is a very cool spiral staircase sort of within a column.

Cathedral of LearningFrom there, we walked over to the Cathedral of Learning, the tallest academic building in the western hemisphere (second tallest in the world). We wandered a bit inside and then took an elevator to the top to check out the view.

After dropping off Greg, we went back to the hotel. Boo and Sugar kindly offered again to get a rollaway for me, so I could spend the night in their spacious room. I didn't want to inconvenience them though, and I wanted to get a head start on my last stretch of driving, so I declined. Sugar generously gave me money to cover my parking fee and told me to keep in touch.

Boo walked me out, and I was glad for the chance to check in with her. So much had changed in her life since I'd last seen her, but the changes suited her well. Among other things, she was starting a long distance master's program at Pitt. I was proud of her and my contributions to her effort in the form of a recommendation and some proofreading. Our serendipitous convergence in Pittsburgh did my heart a world of good when I hadn't even been sure that I'd ever see her again.

We chatted in the lobby for about 15 minutes and then she needed to put her feet up, and I needed to get on the road if I wanted to get out of the city before the sun set.

I asked the parking attendant for directions and was relieved to find that driving out of Pittsburgh was much easier than driving in. For the first time of my whole trip, I had some trouble finding somewhere to stay and had to settle for a smoking room at a Comfort Inn. Figures.

DAY 19 (the final day):

As if a sign that my trip should draw to a close, I saw more road kill this day than during all the other days combined. If that weren't enough, I stopped at a Bob Evans for lunch and was afraid the old man in the car next to me was dead. His middle-aged son or nephew was shaking him to wake him up with little luck.

Later in the afternoon, I pulled off at a scenic overlook, not nearly as spectacular as most of the places I'd seen on this journey, but the green terrain was familiar and reassuring.

After a final long day of driving, I pulled into my parent's garage, home.

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18 February 2007

So far, so good?

No hair pulling yet with the upgraded blogger. I was strong-armed into switching over yesterday. Is upgrading your template to access the new modifications where things go wonky?

I'm pleased that my site continues to exist seemingly unchanged, but my inner geek is tempted by new features. Perhaps I'll hold off until I'm willing to set aside a good chunk of time for troubleshooting if necessary.


At least it's sunny?

The blue sky, white puffy clouds, and the clear black asphalt on the stretch of road outside my window mislead me something awful. However, the delusion mitigated my reaction to my shower head springing a fairly strong leak just as I was about to step into the tub.

A bit later, when I looked out the kitchen window and saw all my shoveling and sanding efforts of yesterday covered with a fresh layer of snow, I bellowed "No!" So much for a 30% chance.

While I was writing, the clouds turned grey, but the sky has opened up again and the sun is shining through, so I better get on with shoveling the latest layer.

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17 February 2007

A 30% chance shouldn't feel like doom...

...and yet after another afternoon of shoveling, the very thought of more snow is just about enough to break me. I was psyching myself up to clearing the treacherous slush where the driveway meets the road tomorrow when I read Sunday's forecast: 30% chance of snow showers, colder, and windy.

I only just got a shovel-wide path cleared so I don't have to wear gaiters to check the mail.

One year ago at TTaT: 9 symphonies, Daughters and the Moms They Blog About
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14 February 2007

Happy V-Day!

Who cares about chocolate, flowers, and jewelry when there's a movement to stop violence against women and girls to celebrate today? Not me.

Check out the V-day site to learn more about the movement.

Find a V-day event near you occurring now or in the coming weeks, read The Vagina Monologues, and support V-day until the violence stops.

One year ago at TTaT: The other V-day
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13 February 2007

The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 16

(Days: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 11-14, fifteen)

1/ix/04: Richfield, OH and thereabouts
15 miles/24 km

DAY 16 (Wednesday):

A fire alarm jerked me out of deep slumber. I looked around my hotel room, my drawn curtains holding the sun at bay, willing the alarm to stop. It didn't. I quickly pulled on my Skechers, grabbed my wallet, cell, keys, my room's key card, and threw my Kodak messenger bag o' important paperwork over my shoulder. I looked through the peephole and felt the door with my hand; there was no sign of fire, so I entered the hallway. The alarm was much louder there.

No flurry of people, fire or smoke, just a few abandoned maids' carts down the long hall. My room was on the ground floor and only a couple of doors away from an exit. Waves of radiating heat rose from the parking lot as I walked outside in my boxers and t-shirt, running my fingers through my bed hair. As the door clicked shut behind me, the alarm was finally muffled to a tolerable loudness.

The night before, I had parked outside of my room's window in the hopes that I would notice if someone was breaking into my car. I opened the driver's door and window to let some trapped heat out and then sat down wondering if I should move my car away from the building. I knew they were doing some construction on another wing and figured it was a false alarm, so I decided to wait. From there, I'd be able to hear if the alarm stopped.

A guy came out of the exit and gave me the once over as he walked past. It was possible he knew something about the alarm, so I watched him in my rearview mirror, but he just got into a car and left.

After about fifteen minutes, the fire alarm finally stopped. I called the front desk and confirmed it was a false alarm before heading back inside. L had the day off, but she'd made it clear she needed to "Accomplish Things," so we weren't due to meet up until after lunch, hours later. I showered and then killed time watching HBO, flipping through my Ohio AAA book only to find no places of interest listed in the immediate vicinity, and checking my email at the local library. I felt progressively restless because I wasn't getting anywhere. On a massive road trip, mileage equals accomplishment. Without it or something cool to do instead, all the regular life stress oozes back in.

When I showed up at her house at the appointed time that afternoon, she reiterated (yet again) that she still had a lot of things she needed to accomplish. I understood and was content to tag along, offering help where I could. We picked up some more boxes from her old place and brought them to her new house. Standing in the kitchen, we surveyed the piles. She looked overwhelmed.

"Is there anything I can help you unpack?" I asked.

"No," she said, looking around. "I just need to figure out where things go."

"Ok. But if you have any dishes that need to be washed, I'd be happy to do that."

"Hmm? Oh, that's all right. I packed most of them in dish towels and we've got a dishwasher, so it's fine. I just need to think."

"I totally know what you mean. I'll leave you to it."

She was startled by the suggestion and quickly assured me, "You don't have to go."

"I don't want to get in your way."

"You're not."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. I've got some stuff on tape if you're interested," she said, leading me into the next room where the tv was set up.

"Sure," I consented in the way you accept a beverage from an eager host to put her at ease. I can't for the life of me remember what the show was. It was something I used to watch but had lost track of, I think. A few minutes into a second episode, L poked her head in and said, "Hmm. I haven't seen this one."

"Did you want to watch it later? Cuz I have maps to look at and other stuff I can do."

"No, I can follow it in the background," she said somewhat exasperated, "I just can't talk."


She disappeared back into the kitchen.

I looked over at Tiger and Friday nearby on the couch and shrugged. It was good to see them. L had gotten Friday and later Tiger when they were kittens back when we first lived together. They had always been her pets, but I was still rather fond of them.

A few minutes later, the phone rang. As I sat watching the rest of an episode I did not care much about, L stopped what she was doing to shoot the breeze with someone for over twenty minutes. After being told all day that she couldn't take a break to talk or hang out with me, I was pissed. I was ready to let it go if it was someone calling long distance, but it turned out to be someone she knew locally.

"It's been 2 years since I've seen you and you can't make time for me, but you can make time for someone you see every week?" I demanded.

She was stunned, uncomprehending.

I reverted to relationship lingo she'd introduced back in the day, "That was a massive withdrawal."

It triggered immediate understanding but also tears. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to, I'm sorry," she choked out.

I wanted to remain angry, but it pained me that I'd made her cry. "I know you are. I was just upset. Please don't cry." I was careful not to say it was ok, however, because it wasn't. An emotional response doesn't make everything right.

"I love you," she sobbed.

"I know," I said calmly. She's the only person I know who can consistently and accurately read my inflections and body language. It's not fair to always be called on things you haven't even said, but that's just how it is with her.

I set my anger and resentment aside. It felt like letting it go, like I had done on other occasions for reasons large and small, but this hurt was placed in a vault amidst many others. It was the last thing I put in there, though at the time I didn't quite realize I was still storing so many past hurts or that there was even a vault for them. Months later when old anger started resurfacing, I'd come to realize that this one event had maxed out the vault's capacity, overtaxing its structural integrity: I couldn't stand being taken for granted anymore.

For the moment though, the vault held steady. She sensed my energy shift and calmed down. We stood quietly for a few minutes, and I started to wish I'd made plans with Boo in Pittsburgh for the next day instead of Friday.

"I'm hungry," I stated. "I saw a Subway up the road. Why don't I go pick us up some dinner while you do some more unpacking."


"What would you like?"

"Roast beef."

"Lettuce, cheese, mustard, salt and vinegar chips, and a coke?" I recited in case her tastes had changed.

She smiled and said, "Yeah."

"Do you know what Ed would like?"

"Oh, he has to work, so he's not going to be home for dinner."

"Ok, I'll be back in a bit."

Over dinner, I told her I was going to drive up to visit the Cleveland Museum of Art the next day. Since she'd previously expressed interest in it, I asked if she'd like to come, but she turned me down as I'd anticipated. We made plans to have dinner together instead since I was leaving on Friday.

I went back to the hotel, wrote out driving directions for myself, and watched Garden State and The Goodbye Girl.


One year ago at TTaT: Night aerobics, Did I just say that?
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11 February 2007

The Life Uncensored

Most of this past week, I've had the place to myself, and this much is certain: when no one's around, I sing more. More loudly, more off-key for all the songs I love that are out of my range that I might typically forego, just more. There's also more spontaneous dancing.

I'm also more likely to laugh and to do so more loudly. Overall, I'm having a right good time which made me wonder why I feel compelled to restrain myself the rest of the time. What does it matter if someone else knows what makes me laugh? Or sees me being silly and light-hearted?

I cultivated such an air of seriousness when I was younger that it seems like breaking character if I behave otherwise. Being taken seriously has always been important to me, but generally speaking, it hasn't been a problem. If anything, people take me too seriously.

Aside from that, there's our old standby self-consciousness. What's the point of that really? To avoid looking foolish? It all seems to be contingent on caring what other people think.

Earlier this week, I came across The Happiness Project, a blog by Gretchen Rubin.
I'm working on a book, THE HAPPINESS PROJECT--a memoir about the year I spent test-driving every principle, tip, theory, and scientific study I could find, whether from Aristotle or St. Therese or Martin Seligman or Oprah. THE HAPPINESS PROJECT will gather these rules for living and report on what works and what doesn't. On this daily blog, I recount some of my adventures and insights as I grapple with the challenge of being happier.
Compelling stuff. From her research, she has culled her own 12 commandments for being happier. I'm still mulling them over, but I'm entirely on board with #1: Be Gretchen.

During this unfettered week, I've been more Claire than I sometimes allow myself to be. "Be Claire" seems like a worthy thing to keep in mind all of the time. Right now it translates to: don't hold back. Not the easiest thing to do when you still remember getting hurt, but I've been happier this week and that counts for something.

One year ago at TTaT: Dos
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08 February 2007

The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 15

(Days: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 11-14)

31/viii/04: Richfield, OH and thereabouts
15 miles/24 km

Day 15 (Tuesday):

"Look!" she exclaimed, wiggling her left hand at me.

It was now officially the most chaotic time possible for me to be visiting. L and her boyfriend had spent the weekend moving in to a house they'd bought together, their first mutual digs. I'd spoken to her just the evening before, so this large diamond ring on her finger had materialized in the interim.

"Congratulations! It's beautiful." That's what you're supposed to say, right? I continued consulting my mental catalogue of engagement announcement scenes' dialogue- they were all pretty much the same. I was still not prepared for what she was about to ask.

"So...," she grinned, "Will you be my maid of honor?"

We were still standing in the strip mall parking lot where we'd agreed to meet. "Are you sure you wouldn't rather have one of your friends from here do it?"

"I'm sure. You're my best friend."

Though we did probably still know each other better than anyone else, I hadn't felt like an integral part of her life for a long time. I didn't consider her my best friend anymore. "I think that'd be a bit much even for me. Besides, what does Ed think?"

"I don't care what he thinks," she laughed, "You're my eeknaif." It was a holdover from our back-slang days, a word in reverse whose meaning had been shifted of necessity into something else nearly a decade before because she still wanted to use it.

"No, I'm not," I said flatly. "Not anymore. Ed is."

"Oh, he's not, that's just too weird."

"See?" I smiled, "That's what I'm saying."

"Ok," she conceded. "I get it."

"Are we ok?"

"You're still going to come, right?"

"Yes. Of course."

"As long as you still come, we're ok."

After lunch, I made hotel arrangements and L went home to do some unpacking. I found a local library so I could check my email and see if there was any news from Boo, one of my favorite people. Just the day before, I discovered via her LJ that she was going to be in Pittsburgh for a few days. I had a feeling she was going to be there a week too late for me, but I left her a note just in case. There was no reply.

As I headed out to my car, my cell rang. Boo had helped me pick out this phone almost two years earlier when I knew next to nothing about cell phones. She showed me the basics over my last lunch in Tallahassee, and when I stepped away for a few minutes, she programmed her number into my phone with a special ring. It was her calling now.

In my first bit of good luck with timing, she was going to be in Pittsburgh at the end of the week. Thursday or Friday sounded most promising to us, but since she had an appointment on Thursday, I opted for Friday just to keep it simple.

I drove over to L's new house so she could give me the grand tour. The house was pretty big, but the layout made several of the rooms small. L pointed out things she wanted to remove: carpeting on the stairs and from one of the bathrooms; and things she wanted to change: first and foremost, the Dorito-orange paint, complete with texture, covering the living room walls. Boxes were piled everywhere, sometimes with walking paths between them and sometimes not. We ended back in the kitchen to get something to drink.

Ed walked in through the back door.

"Hey Ed, how's it going?" I called out.

"Hey," he said, looking around, still getting used to the place. He wasn't surprised to see me but hadn't expected to see me there just then.

"I hear congratulations are in order," I ventured.

"Yeah, thanks."

I reminded myself that Ed was a very quiet guy, a little bit strange. We'd met once before and it'd taken him a couple hours to warm up.

"Your back right tire looked low, so I put some air in it," he said.

I didn't know about portable air compressors at the time, so this was a very baffling statement to me. "Oh. Thanks." I looked out the window: my car was where I'd left it, and my keys were in my pocket. Knowing how into cars he is, I figured he'd know better than to use TireJack on it because I'd heard that renders your tire un-pluggable. It would've been a simple matter to ask, but I just didn't feel like it. Instead, I said, "Would you guys like help moving that desk upstairs while I'm here?"

"Are you sure?" L asked.

"Yeah. Let me just grab my steel-toed boots and some gloves from the car." While I was outside getting my gear, I looked at the back tire. It seemed fine, so I decided to just keep an eye on it in case it was leaking.

Back inside, I surveyed the desk, the right turn in the stairs, and the narrow doors at the top. "Have you measured to make sure it'll fit?" I asked, sitting down to put on my boots. "I've got a tape measure on my keychain if you need it," I added, handing my keys to L.

"Do you really like steel-toed boots?" Ed asked.

"Yeah. They're great for keeping your toes from getting smashed."

"We're supposed to wear them at work, but I hate 'em. They're so stiff."

"I've had pairs like that, but these are really flexible. They're pretty comfy actually." I stood up and squatted down on my toes to demonstrate.

The desk was a monster to move even with three of us and got stuck in the final doorway because the door wouldn't open wide enough. Taking the door off its hinges while not letting the desk fall down the stairs required balance, contortions, and brute strength: a mini circus side show. Once the desk was in, we agreed it was time for dinner and went out.

Pulling into their driveway afterwards, L and Ed looked for deer in their new backyard. L and I didn't see anything, but Ed thought he saw something and then decided it was just a flicker of light. When I opened my door, a snout appeared totally freaking me out. I yelled, "Oh my god," and gently closed the door, forcing the snout to withdraw.

"What?" L demanded with alarm.

Since L and Ed didn't own a dog, it took a moment for my brain to register that it was only a golden retriever who'd poked its head in my doorway. Considering my history with dogs, I was thankful he didn't bark; he just wanted to check us out.

"There was a snout in my doorway," I explained. L and I started laughing as we watched the dog jog away. "I guess you did see something, Ed."


One year ago at TTaT: One call I'm happy to take during dinner, Oh yeah, Tax filing tip
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07 February 2007

Living well

Living well is the best revenge.

That aphorism crossed my mind a few minutes ago, as if an antidote to my preoccupations of late, but then I thought to myself, If that's true, I'm not doing a very good job of it at the moment.

Write. That's what I always recommend to exorcise troubling thoughts, and yet I gave myself permission not to write. There was no real ending, sort of the difference between not talking to someone anymore and telling them you're not going to talk to them anymore. The former feels unresolved, and I don't think any amount of writing will change that.

Back to Living well. It suggests throwing myself into some pursuit, but if I don't really care, then it's nothing more than distraction and that seems like a waste of effort to me. Ah, the problem is that the revenge only "works" if the living well meets someone else's standard. If their opinion doesn't matter to you, then you don't really care about revenge anyway.

I don't mean to say that revenge is my goal or even my preoccupation; the sentiment of Living well is the best revenge just feels like one step away from being over it. And I'm further away than that.

One year ago at TTaT: Rude, moi?
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04 February 2007

Common imprecision

Mom was telling me about the wind chill today, down to 0 F here. I joked that at least we weren't in Europe because then it'd be negative quite a bit.

I know, kind of lame. I didn't know the Celsius conversion offhand and though I know the formula is 5/9 or 9/5 F plus or minus 32, I wasn't up to sussing it out in my head today, so the joke fell flat. Mom doesn't get when I'm joking a great deal of the time anyway so me having an off day doesn't tip the scales much.

Damn, just hit me what I should've said: at least the wind chill's in Fahrenheit, it'd be a lot colder in Celsius. Yes, it's still a dumb joke. Cut me some slack, my sinuses are still getting to me.

Anyway, it got me thinking about Celsius: water freezes at 0, boils at 100. Simple enough.

And then that made me wonder why stoves (or ranges, not ovens) don't have any temperature markings on them. I felt like if they did, maybe there'd be a few less stupid kitchen accidents. Low, Medium, High is pretty vague, but I reckon it keeps it simple for users and definitely simplifies quality control during manufacture.

I'd be curious to know how Low, Medium, High temperature values compare between different brands as well as between gas, electric, and induction ranges.

One year ago at TTaT: This warm
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03 February 2007

Have they stopped making AlphaBits?!

For a person on whom low-blood sugar manifests temperamental qualities, AlphaBits were my go-to snack through grad school and beyond. It's been a long time since I've had 'em, but I've got a hankering for them now and I'm gonna be really bummed if they don't make them anymore. Our two main grocery stores do not carry them.

Don't tell me Cheerios. I need my sugar.


Wikipedia's entry says Alpha-Bits don't have sweeteners anymore. The product page at Kraft confirms this as if its a selling point. I think I'm gonna be sick-oh wait, already am. I'm not feeling up to this horrible news. It almost does make me feel like crying.

Stupid AlphaBits.

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Fleeting wonderland

My sinuses and the weather are still messing with me pretty well, but Wil's post about last night felt so simpatico to my experience that it motivated me to write mine when I wasn't sure I felt up to it.

It was a little after midnight, and I pulled the curtains apart to look out the sliding glass door. Earlier in the evening we'd gotten 3 inches of snow, so the sky was still overcast. The full moon was bright enough to keep the sky a light grey, however, with individual clouds visible amidst the layers of cloud cover and to reflect off the snow below.

Tree branches were thickly covered with snow all the way to their tops, enough to greatly soften their typically hard, bare lines. The tops were a series of small snow domes instead of fine, pointy sticks.

It was beautiful, something I hadn't seen here before, but it was too dark and wouldn't translate well to a photograph. I was pretty sure the effect would be lost when the sun rose even if the temperature didn't break 32, so I stood there and tried to soak in the image.

That's miraculous, I thought to myself. Me standing here, not just sheltered, but warm. Looking through glass at this cold spectacular scene. Just thinking it disturbed the moment though, making me feel a bit self-conscious for thinking the word 'miraculous.' But then I assured myself that it was fair, because it would most probably be gone when I got up, and it was stray luck that I'd seen it at all.

If it was still there when I got up, I'd shoot it; if not (it wasn't), at least I'd seen it.

I headed back into the kitchen to make some popcorn.


02 February 2007

Steady now...

Interior portions of my brain are not throbbing so much today as long I make no sudden movements, and I'm feeling less feverish on the whole. Hit me Wednesday night and totally knocked me out yesterday. Still rather zombie-like today. Bleh.

Hello, February.

One year ago at TTaT: Ridiculous, but addictive, Say it ain't so