30 September 2009

One of those days

Few things make me feel so readily like a loser as using the telephone, which is why I don't use it much. However, yesterday I had to to ask some auto insurance questions. The guy was pretty nice, even offering a "You're doing fine" encouragement as I stumbled over my words so much I had to stop and start over. He was a little jerky when I asked about all the discounts listed on their site but other than that it was fine and I've got a new policy.

That should've been the end of it, a relief after days of research, quotes and calls; but the whole phone interaction left me on edge.

I played 20 minutes of DDR in an effort to get it out of my system before dinner and discovered I'm skilled enough to play and still be tremendously preoccupied. (Time to up my DDR difficulty level.)

Later, I ran some errands but only realized after I'd gotten home that I'd forgotten to use a coupon I'd had with me because I'd paid with a credit card instead of cash. (I put coupons in my wallet with my cash so, in theory, I won't forget them.) Instead of putting the days frustrations aside, this minor screw-up put me on tilt.

I woke up this morning feeling slightly better until I remembered yesterday. Found myself running through the math of driving up to see whether they'd still take my coupon if I showed them my receipt. With gas mileage and assuming they'd take the dollar coupon, I decided I'd probably only come out 30 cents ahead if I had no other reason to drive that way.

This reminded me of Dave2's post about bending over to pick up a dollar bill only to drop and scratch his $80 sunglasses. Correction: his $180 sunglasses. I started to envision getting into a car accident before my new policy goes into effect totally screwing up my premium to costly effect.

Nonetheless, that there was minimal gain to be had didn't reduce the real problem: my frustration at myself for not using the coupon in the first place.

A hangnail was driving me crazy, so I tried to break it off. A gentle tug did not work so I gave it yank which removed it and a slim line of skin, not enough to bleed but enough to make it hurt like a son-of-a-bitch every time water hits it. All this before my shower, naturally.

Regarding the coupon, the simple answer would be to call ahead to see if they'd take it, but I was still too edgy to deal with the phone and felt better taking my chances in person. Someone kindly offered to call for me, which made me feel a bit ridiculous, but the good news is that they will take my coupon if I have my receipt which I do.

So...feeling less crazy just now albeit perhaps more dysfunctional than I'd been thinking. C'est la fucking vie.

A year ago on TTaT: Twice, seriously?

27 September 2009

Context is everything.

Version A:
"Dick. Dick. Dick! DICK! DICK, BARBARA!"

Version B:
Two sisters speaking by phone try to recall the children of one of their cousins. They agree on two out of three names when the younger sister interjects, "Dick."

The older sister talks over it, not listening.

The younger sister repeats, "Dick."

The older sister continues mulling over other names.






A year ago on TTaT: McCain's treatment of POW/MIA issues

24 September 2009

Somebody with my name likes what I like

So a week and a half ago, Colleen aka The Communicatrix left a great tip on twitter:
Social media birthday tip for you: Go to YouTube, type "happy birthday (your name here)" into the search box, and enjoy.

I was busy doing other things on my birthday and the past few days, so I only just got around to checking it out.

I love Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars and in other incarnations, so the one with her is my favorite. Also dig the music and the rocking montage skills on display.

The next clip is a close runner-up or perhaps tie as it has more birthday content. But seriously, this was time-consuming to shoot: NYC time-lapse, holla! A lot of effort went into this, you can feel the love.

Thanks, Colleen!

A year ago on TTaT: bowling, bowling, bowling

23 September 2009

Pizza and the patience it tries

Either severe allergies or a cold has been wearing on my mom the past few days, but she said pizza sounded good for dinner.

Between mom, dad, and I, she is the most discerning about pizza: hotness of serving, thickness and crispiness of crust. However, last time she suggested pizza and I mentioned that she had previously said she didn't like the closest places, she vehemently denied it. So, lesson learned, didn't say that again.

This time, she suggested a place a town over, and I asked her what she wanted on it.

"I don't care," she said.

I knew this wasn't strictly true because she has many times expressed her disgust towards Hawaiian pizzas even though she's never tried pineapple and ham as toppings. It's not a favorite of mine by any means, so it was no big deal.

"Pepperoni and mushrooms?" she suggested.

That was the staple family pizza when I was growing up even though I've never liked mushrooms. I dug out a take-out menu and she found one in the phone book. Based on pricing, 3 toppings seemed the way to go, so I suggested five or six thinking she'd pick the three most appealing to her. When I said "eggplant" she repeated it with a questioning intonation.

"If it were just me, I'd probably get pepperoni, eggplant, and black olives."

"Pepperoni, eggplant, pepperoni, eggplant, pepperoni, eggplant," she continued to repeat. Her prosody made me wonder if the combination was that unfathomable to her.

"Yeah, the eggplant soaks up some of the grease of the pepperoni. We don't have to get that."

"No, that's fine, what else did you want?"

"Well, sliced tomatoes or black olives would also be good."

"Wait, what? How many things do you want?"

"Any of those would be fine. What sounds good to you?"


The back and forth continued with additional misunderstandings between the "gourmet" and "standard" pizza toppings and no decisive input from Mom.

About fifteen or twenty minutes later, I heard Dad on the stairs and said, "Oh, god help us, we can get another opinion."

"Or, god help us, you and your dad can go eat whatever you want and bring me something back."

"No," I said to her. We're not playing that game.

"We're thinking of ordering pizza from Pan-(something I have no idea how to spell)," Mom said to Dad.

"What?" he said.

"The place in Southsville," I said to clarify.


"Is pizza all right with you?" I asked.

"Yes, that's fine."

"Do you have any druthers for toppings?"

"I don't care. Anything's fine except I don't want onions or garlic."

When my dad says he doesn't care he actually means it, so it was back to mom and I.

"What did you want again?" Mom asked.

I rolled my eyes and read off all the toppings I like from the menu.

"If that pizza has pizza sauce, why would you want tomato slices?" she asked.

"I don't care. I don't care. I don't care," I said with rising volume. "Any of those toppings would be fine is what I'm saying. Just pick three. What do you want?"

"Anything's fine with me," Mom said.


"Pepperoni, eggplant, and black olives?" she suggested as if it weren't the first thing I'd said.

"Yes, that's fine."

"Sure," Dad offered.

Mom dialed the number and while it was ringing, I turned to Dad and said, "Watch, they'll be on vacation in Italy."

"Greece," Mom corrected.


She was still waiting for someone to pick up. After about twenty rings' time, Mom started to laugh. The restaurant was closed because the owners were on vacation in their home country.

I laughed too until Dad suggested trying the pizza at the new Irish pub in town: didn't seem promising to me. Also, another topping go-round and I'd have to smash my head into a wall.

Mom said, "Well, you guys can go do that and just bring me home a salad from Burger King."

After all that?! "I'd just as soon pick up a burger than do that," I said.

"Me too," Dad said, "Let's go."

A year ago on TTaT: I'm not for public spitting, but...

22 September 2009

A rafter of turkeys

rafter of turkeys
This photo brought to you courtesy of the fact I don't mind going outside in my pajamas.

A year ago on TTaT: Nap time

19 September 2009

A personal odometer click

What 35 looks like:

Claire hauling a box mirror snapshot of Claire Claire shoveling snow MCU Claire in winter gear wearing my Diane von Furstenberg shirt CU hair strand, double helix self portrait after a mall visit dancing with hair pulled back dancing with hair down, pointing Vahid's avatar twin dancing, MS jeans dancing WS wearing a friend's shirt, MS pondering photoshop short hair cut with shades on wearing a cool blue shirt with silver vine-shaped stitching biceps curl quad stretch holding CD sculpture triceps dip

What 36 looks like...so far:

looking at clock-like sculpture touching fuzz sculpture getting attacked by gnats touching fuzzy lamb's ears plant jotting down variety of lamb's ears that's particularly fuzzy and awesome Claire kneeling, looking up

(Click any image to enlarge it.)

A year ago on TTaT: In the middle of a decade

15 September 2009

Spring Breakdown rundown

I'm pretty sure I saw a trailer of Spring Breakdown somewhere along the line which made me think, "What. are. they. doing?" A month or so ago, however, I read about it online and saw all the great talent involved and decided to give the DVD a shot.

Rachel Dratch of SNL was one of its writers and also acted in it.

I pretty much knew all of the cast from somewhere and liked them all:
Parker Posey, Amy Poehler, Amber Tamblyn, Jane Lynch, Seth Myers, Loretta Devine, Will Arnett, Sarah Hagan, Justin Hartley...

How much I liked the movie caught me off guard since broad comedies aren't really my thing. Spring Breakdown definitely resonated with me because I never went on spring break and I'm the age of the women in the film who get their second chance at it.

Sophomore spring break, I had mono. I was also sick senior year but spent it traveling for a grad school interview. Freshman year, the tight friendships I'd had in the fall had fallen apart by then, and junior year, I didn't have the cash to get to a warm beach. Not that booze, crowds, and beach in combination was something I wanted to do anyway. Doesn't have much appeal now either.

The Dinah, "the world's largest girl party," is often called lesbian spring break. I wouldn't rule out attending because I'm certain it's a sight to behold, but it's also lots of crowds and drinking. Did I mention that I don't really drink? Being around drunk folk: not entertaining to me nor a good way to pass the time.

And yet... that I don't happen to like most alcohol sometimes feels like a failing on my part. If only I drank... I'd have a reason to be in a bar, I wouldn't think twice about going to a TequilaCon, I'd've gotten more work in LA... The last may seem far-fetched, but I know it to be true from hearing about jobs my friend got over beers. "Friend" is used loosely here because he was always evasive about any high-paying work he got. In the LA film industry, beers=networking, as well as for many other places I imagine, professionally or socially. Too bad it tastes like swill.

Did you ever go on spring break? Did it live up to your expectations? Would you want to go again? Or if you never went, would you want to now? Or to go to some age-appropriate equivalent? Have any of you been to The Dinah?

A year ago on TTaT: Twos

13 September 2009

The Silver Moose

When we first drove by, my co-passenger said, "Did you see the moose?"

"No, where?"

"Back in front of that store."

I looked through the rear windshield and caught a glimpse of it between parked cars. "It's silver," I said.

"We can pull in and look at it on our way back."

Having seen a variety of sheep, moose, and hearts made over by artists in various cities over the past several years, I wasn't surprised by the presence of the shiny moose.

However, later, when we pulled up to it and I saw the light pulsing across its eye socket, I exclaimed, "It's a Battlestar Galactica moose!" and then in wondrous recognition, "It's a cylon moose."

Cylon moose head
Cylon moose full shot
Cylon moose MS head
Cylon moose shoulder
Cylon moose leg
The level of detail was quite impressive. If it hadn't been raining, I would've checked it out more thoroughly.

A year ago on TTaT: Nothing she wants

10 September 2009

36. Lilac Mines

36. Lilac Mines by Cheryl Klein (4/5*)

Personally, I loathe spoilers when it comes to fiction. Books, television, movies: it doesn't matter, I only want to know enough to be able to tell if it's something I want to read or see. I've been reading Cheryl's blog Bread and Bread for a couple of years now, long entertained by the humor in her anecdotes. If her book had been available at my library, I would've checked it out without a second thought. I'm typically a read it, love it, then buy it sort of person.

The tipping point that lead me to buy first, read later was an interview Cheryl conducted for The Bilerico Project, a roundup of queer news and opinion, with Terry Wolverton about being gay writers of different generations. The beauty of it for me is that there's no spoilers since it's about Wolverton's book, but you still get a feel for Cheryl's, as well as a taste of her A-game writing (it's excellent).

Wolverton subsequently interviewed Klein and wrote a good non-spoilery teaser:
In Lilac Mines, the twenty-something protagonist, Felix Ketay, finds her identity collapsing when the structures that held supported it--her relationship to Eva, a po-mo-sexual lawyer; her copywriting job for a fashion magazine; and the assumption that being queer in West Hollywood in 2002 is without danger--begin to collapse. She seeks refuge with her lesbian aunt in the small town of Lilac Mines and tries to mine the history of an earlier generation to better understand herself.
I really enjoyed Lilac Mines. Her characters are distinct; even those who are only around for a short while feel as though they have lives that continue beyond the page. The multiple plot lines are easy to follow and deftly interwoven, an impressive feat considering the scope of the story. Inventive metaphors and similes made me smile as I read. In Lilac Mines, I see an author who loves language, squeezing every drop out of it.

Well worth a read even if you have to pony up the cash to buy it.

*A refresher on my ratings:
0, 1 , 2: even if a book rates a 2 in my mind, it's doubtful I'd finish it. Maybe if it was really short.
3: I didn't feel my time was wasted reading it per se, but once was definitely enough.
4: Solid, as in objectively well written, entertaining &/or informative. I enjoyed the book or found it useful and may read it again.
5: My absolute favorites. A bit more subjective. Maybe 3 titles out of a few hundred.

A year ago on TTaT: Damn

09 September 2009

Gettin' My Groove On... (vol. xi)

...reading Lilac Mines, a damn fine novel by Cheryl Klein of Bread and Bread:

I really enjoyed your book, Cheryl. About halfway through, it hit me that I'm proud of you which may seem odd since we've never met, but I am nonetheless. Lilac Mines is an impressive writing feat. So, the rest of you should buy and read it!

(Previous grooves.)

A year ago on TTaT: Three Breaks: Part 3, Three Breaks: Part 4

07 September 2009

twelve by eighteen

You guys, Michael's finally has 12" x 18" frames! And the ones I liked best were 50% off this week. I went in on a lark today because I had a 50% off coupon that was going to expire; I was flabbergasted when I spotted the 12" x 18" frames. I'd vaguely thought I'd start buying the make-your-own frame pieces, 1 pair at a time over a course of several weeks with 4 coupons. Then I'd buy glass and get custom mattes cut.

Long time readers (if there are any from four years ago still around) may recall that my two photo enlargements have been almost nothing but trouble for me since the start.

Despite these obstacles, the photos and negatives arrived intact.

That's when I discovered that there was no standard sized frame for 12" x 18" pictures. There's 8" x 10", 11" x 14", 16" x 20", and sometimes 12" x 16". 18" x 24" was the only standard frame that would work but it'd require getting custom cut mattes (ridiculously pricey). Besides, I didn't really want a three inch border around my photos.

The totally messed up thing is that my photos were shot on 35 mm film, originally printed at the standard 4" x 6" size. Enlarged three times gives you 12" x 18". All the standard frame sizes require cropping. I framed it the way I wanted it from the beginning, mofos! Alas, the joke's on me.

Ideally, I would've gone for a 2" white matte border yielding a frame size of 16" x 22". The frame itself a nice rich wood perhaps. Signed in pencil just below the photo on the lower right. Date? No date. I paused in one of the frame aisles. I could still do that.

Then I resumed walking back and forth between my two 12" x 18" options. I know myself. The photos have been sitting in a box under my bed for over a year and could easily continue to do so for years to come. So fuck it, y'know? After some OCD glass cleaning, I'll slap--OK, gingerly set--those photos in the black frames I bought today, without mattes. They may not be perfect but they will go ON A WALL. And that's the point really, for the photos to be seen.

I can always upgrade their framing when I have more cash down the line if I feel like it, but I won't be deprived of seeing the photos in the meantime.

Four years ago, I attached so much significance to the enlargements it's laughable, like I was flipping a coin against the universe for answers to my life and repeatedly losing.

It's time to create my own luck.

Two years ago on TTaT: Ruins where I can get them, Vol. 3

04 September 2009

Homemade Rock Star

The first time we met was at a mutual friend's wedding in November of 2001. I'd been dancing for a good while and stepped out for some cool early evening air. I leaned against the stone rail, looking towards but not seeing my old college campus.

"Claire, right?"

I turned and saw one of my table mates, a short fellow with curly hair starting to recede. "Yeah, hey," I said, then ventured, "Tim." He nodded. It's not like anyone else was wearing jeans ("fancy jeans" he assured us) so he wasn't hard to remember.

We traded stories of how we knew the bride and then the conversation segued into other interests. I don't recall what triggered my quiet conspiratorial confession, but I told him, "I kind of secretly want to be a rock star."

"Me too," Tim said enthusiastically. He went on to explain that he was a musician, and I felt like a tool because being a rock star wasn't something I was actually pursuing.

A year and a half later, I was visiting Tim and his girlfriend Chala in San Francisco. Tim wanted to hear one of the songs I'd written. My guitar was still buried in my trunk in part because I wanted to play for him, but my stage fright was severe. His interest was sincere, that coupled with his much greater musical expertise intimidated me.

Chala was also interested, but mellow about it all. She went to the far end of the apartment to work on her own stuff.

"How 'bout if I sit in the hallway?" he suggested.


He left the room and sat cross-legged in the narrow hall. I could see him in my peripheral vision.

"I'm sorry, could you move further down?"

He slid out of sight. I exhaled, trying to calm my nerves. I'm just here by myself. It's fine. No big deal if you screw up. No one's listening. I warmed up a little with some chord progressions and strum patterns I've played since I first started learning guitar. Long familiar territory to re-accustom my fingers to the strings. Then I played and sang a few of my songs.

After a couple, Tim edged back into the room, sitting behind me to listen.

Chala was the one who ultimately urged Tim and I to record one of them in his home studio. With a few minor suggestions from me, he souped up the musical arrangement, adding bass, percussion and synth, performing all the instruments himself while I did the vocals.

One of these days I'll put it up. Or so I've been telling myself for a few years now. Maybe I'll listen to Amanda Palmer talk to her young Scottish cousin about stage fright (which inspired this post) some more first.

A year ago on TTaT: First bad picture to date