Thursday, September 30, 2010

My bloggiversary

This weekend my blog turns 4 years old, which is something like 92-years-old in blogging years, and ... yup, here I am, still blogging for God knows what reason.

This whole shenanigan started about five months after I got married and about four months after my mother-in-law passed away. Life was hard at home, and work sucked balls and was boring as shit (one thing that hasn't changed in four years: my potty mouth).

I began the blog in order to kill time and also reach back and touch my roots as a writer. I never had any illusions that I would make money doing this, which is good because I've never made one red cent. Following my discovery of a couple of big-name bloggers who seem to make money, and that infuriating movie Julie & Julia, I began to believe it might be possible to become a profitable blogger, but that belief was similar to the one I had about how easy it would be to write a novel.

Which: HA! Double HA! I shall never insult the author of a poorly written novel again.

At first,  I had three readers, literally. And I was OK with that because I was blogging on the downlow. I blogged from my desk at work, and often blogged about work. Many of those posts have been deleted or edited down, as I began to fear that I would be discovered and probably fired (which in retrospect would have been a blessing). To date, no one from my old job seems to know about the blog, and if they do, they haven't let on.

Nowadays I have a smattering of readers and the unique visitor count never breaks 100. Which is cool. It's all good in the hood. Me and my peeps are keepin' it real.

I could grow my readership if I opted to discuss breastfeeding or certain crappy musicians who shall go unnamed or any number of other hot topics that bring in floods of readers, but I don't and won't. I unintentionally brought in a horde of readers for precisely one day, following the cat show we went to a few weeks ago that I wrote about. One of the cat people got wind of it and posted a link on their message board. I love cat people.

There were moments I considered shutting the blog down, but after these last few months I am convinced that would be a mistake. I finally feel like part of an online community, as cliche as that sounds, and I really do believe that only good things can come of this.

So!

With that said, one final reminder that today at midnight is your deadline for microwave photos. Send them! You can do it! Or not? You don't have to? Christina, you are disqualified for coming up with the idea in the first place, even though your microwave is hideous.

And lastly, I shall leave you with some highlights from the last four years. Unfortunately, everything from 2006 is pure drivel, so I'm starting with 2007. Enjoy!


Boob shot - this post contains a photo of me wearing a heart monitor. This was during the Panic-fest of '07, when I was diagnosed with a number of minor and stupid problems that mean nothing.

Fire in the hole - This is the first time I set meat on fire in the oven. Since that time it has happened many, many more times.

Shopping with the masses - this is a Christmas shopping post from '08. The part that kills me is my husband calling me three times about an oven someone dumped in front of our house. I may be the only person this amuses.

Reverse - this is about my grandmother passing away in '08. Alert! It is sad.

The Clacker - About my grandfather, but it's not sad, I swear! It's funny.

Treasure Hunt - Some of the amusing "treasures" we found while cleaning out my husband's grandmother's home.

Just Kidding - My mental state following recovery from H1N1 last year. I'd lost 14 lbs! 

Progress Report - Before & after shots from painting the house in '09.

THE BABIES - Pics of our cats as kittens.

The Deets - My husband's emergency appendectomy.

Come to Jesus - The day I really decided to quit my job this year.

Four days - Photos from my grandparents' home, more bittersweet now that it's been sold.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The only way is the wrong way

So, word up. I'm gonna be talking again about my weird no-job-havin' ways again today, so if you haven't figured out by now that I spend maybe 50% of my days figuring out how to be an artsy fartsy novelist and that I'm often writing about the challenges this involves (Oh, poor me!), well then this is a bit of newsflash.

Sidenote: You know how when you're a kid you have kind of a vague idea of how it's all supposed to work out? I thought I would graduate college in four years, obtain my illustrious job as a newspaper reporter (HA!), get married right after that, pop out two kids and that would be that. So, it happened to take me 13 years of on-and-off work to get my degree and of course everything else I've done was behind "schedule," too. Which doesn't bother me in the least, it's just ... funny.

Sidenote Dos: The other day a friend said something to the effect of It's all downhill from here. She's married, has a great job, has two great kids and feels that there's not much else to look forward to. Death is imminent and all that. Which is true, in a way, except there are lots of things to look forward to, if you prefer ignoring Impending Doom. There are sunsets and trips and good food and friends and family and wine and let us not forget Fixing Up The House, which is a never-ending project. So, just keep getting new carpet and counter tops to delay death, is what I'm saying.

Back to the point of this essay. My point, weak as it may be, is that I am figuring it all out. Got it?

I am figuring out my modus operandi. And it has little to no relation to the M.O. many people have suggested. But I am an artsy fartsy novelist - I am two clicks away from really eccentric jewelry, OK? (I wanted to dye my hair purple on my first day as a No-Job-Haver, but my husband forbade it).

So all this basically means is that I am not on the same schedule as the Job Havers. I mean, it is 11:40 a.m. and I have not showered. Which might be a little scandalous to you. But I'm not, like, drunk or anything. I'm just sittin' here in my PJs. Bein' artsy.

Now truthfully, does this bother you? Because this is what I do every day. I get up around 8:30, eat breakfast, blog, take a shower, then writewritewritewritewritewritewriteagonize. Occasionally (does anyone else have a problem with the word occasionally? I can never spell it right on the first try. Sumbitch word.) I get distracted by blogs, because there are so many of them, and so many good ones. But I honestly consider my time spent visiting and commenting on blogs a form of networking. Some day this will all pay off, mark my words.

So that is all. I sometimes do not wear makeup. I often do not exercise. My brain is doing something different than I used to do, but my body is still in the same position it was in for many hours of the day for many years: Seated at a desk, typing.

The solitude suits me -- my husband often jokes that I hate everyone, so being alone all day is the best possible scenario for me. That's an exaggeration. I love many people, and many other people aggravate me. Nowadays I take them in small, tolerable doses and I'm sleeping much better. This probably makes me sound like a dick, but trust me, I am actually delightful in person. Tee hee.

Adieu for today, I'm off to continue doing it wrong. Til tomorrow...


(Post script: You have til midnight Thursday to send a photo of your janky, dirty, weird, funky, zany, wonderful, tiny, huge or just plain odd microwave to zeromusings@yahoo.com. So far there are only 2 entries and one of them is going to make off with a $10 gift card to Starbucks! Mmm.... caffeine. For more information visit my post about the Hideous Microwave Contest & Giveaway.) 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Kindness of the desperate

Yesterday I was asked to come back to my old job to fill a temporary, 11-month position.

Eleven months is almost a year, obviously.

I told them that would be impossible because 1) I burned all of my old work clothes or sold them in the garage sale. 2) I don't wear high heels any more. 3) If I have to sit in that office for more than 15 minutes my brains will melt and leak out of my ears.

Also, Dr. Lu says if you are stressed out during pregnancy, your baby will emerge with horns and fangs. I'm not pregnant, but could conceivably become pregnant during the next 11 months. 

I'm being snarky, but I did politely decline the offer. The people-pleaser in me wants to help them out -- I do actually like the people on the team that needs help -- but the realist in me knows it is a total no-go. I realized about a month after leaving that job I could never go back to corporate real estate.

Actually, the people pleaser in me almost ordered something I didn't actually want for dinner the other night, because I was at a German restaurant for Oktoberfest, and tri-tip is so not German. I am a weird soul. Why should I care what other people think if I order tri-tip during Oktoberfest? I ordered it. It was all right, and I did get red cabbage, so there was that.

That is really beside the point.

The main reason I can't go back (aside from my sheer hate for the profession) is that I have word-count goals I must meet every day, and if my brains are melting out of my head for eight hours a day in some office where everyone is coughing the H1N1 virus all over each other every day, I will certainly not be able to meet those goals.

(Aside: I do not do well in large offices with a hundred or so cubicles because I have a bad habit of absentmindedly playing with my lips when I'm focusing on something, so I end up getting the flu every year. It's really dumb.)

(By the way, Dr. Lu says if you get the flu during pregnancy your kid could be schizophrenic. Which: WHAT THE HELL?!)

So anyway. That is that. This is the second time in seven months that I've been asked to fill a temporary position at my old company. It's lovely to be wanted and sort of validating in a way. Obviously if I were a complete fuck-up they wouldn't want me to come back. So I thank them for their kindness and for thinking of me but as for whether I will ever be going back there, whether on a permanent or temporary basis, that is a big hell to the no.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Of blogging

On Saturday, someone who doesn't know me very well said that blogging is stupid.

I guess he doesn't read my blog, tee hee.

I didn't tell him I have one.

Blogging might be stupid. I overshare or share things that are a waste of time for you to read. There isn't much of value here, if you're looking to take something away from the experience of reading my blog. Except, perhaps, a $10 gift card to Starbucks, dirty bird.*

Thankfully, bloggers aren't writing their blogs for people who think blogging is stupid. We mainly do it for ourselves and other bloggers. We connect with others, and through our network support each other in our daily, monthly, and annual ventures. And most of us don't make a red cent doing it. It's how we roll.

Today, in honor of bloggers who are not stupid, I would like to share with you a list of blogs I found this year that you might want to read because they are well-written and some of them make me laugh and some of them make me cry and some of them make me drool.

Smitten Kitchen - she cooks.

NieNie. Just do it.

Pearl. She posts every day. And she is funny. Every. Day.

Schmutzie. She is giving up a vice.

Nothing but bonfires. She just bought a house in SF and is remodeling.

Discovery Street. She just returned from a months long honeymoon (yes, months, with an "S" on the end), and they're starting their life in Seattle.

I'll tell you anyway. She just moved to NY and is studying fashion while waitressing.

The Voyage of V. She lives in Sweden and posts awesome photos.

That should do you for a Monday. I don't know any of these gals but they are amazing. There are many, many other very good blogs out there, including blogs written by very good friends, but today I'm showing you how the network works -- the network you probably already know about because you read blogs and you have never said, Blogging is stupid.

*You have 'til midnight Pacific time this Thursday to enter the Hideous Microwave Contest & Giveaway and potentially win a $10 Starbucks gift card. Email a photo of your hideous, stinky, weird, huge, dirty, broken or janky microwave to zeromusings@yahoo.com

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fastidiousness

We have a morning tradition around here that might gross you out. It goes like this: My husband and I eat breakfast and whatever miniscule scraps are left in our bowls or on our plates, the cats get to lick.

Yesterday I discovered that Murray likes Greek yogurt, which was no surprise, but what was surprising was that after he was done licking the bowl, he wanted to cover it up with newspaper, similarly to how he covers his dookie with litter in the litter box.

I googled the reasons for this behavior, and the morons on the Internet seem to think he is protecting his food. But I have never seen him do this with food before.

Anyway, it was damn funny, so I took a video of it! Enjoy.

(Also, please don't forget to take a photo of your microwave this weekend and send it to me at zeromusings@yahoo.com for the Hideous Microwave Contest & Giveaway!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hideous Microwave Contest! (& Giveaway)

After last week's video regarding my dysfunctional microwave, a friend suggested I have people send in photos of their own hideous microwaves, and the more I thought about it, the more I found the idea very appealing.

So, as such, I am holding my first giveaway on this here blog. All you have to do is send in a picture of your microwave and whoever has the ugliest or most monstrous or just all around weirdest microwave (as judged by myself and my husband) will win a $10 gift card to Starbucks.

The prize is modest, as I do not as of yet have any sponsors on this here blog, but hey! $10 will buy you a couple of lattes, right? You'll still have a really awful microwave, but if it's any consolation, so will I.

So tell your mama, tell your friends, tell anyone you know who has a nasty, no-good microwave to send a photo to me at zeromusings@yahoo.com. The winner will be announced next Friday, Oct. 1, and photos of the winner's and runners-up's microwaves will be posted.

Good luck!

Four seasons

I am trying to convince my husband to take a trip with me to the east coast to see the fall color.

FOLIAGE! I keep exclaiming.

He does not like to travel, and poor thing, he married someone who would leave in two hours for ... anywhere! if invited. I'm a sucker for a good adventure.

It's good that he is the way he is because sometimes I will say something like:

Let's quit our jobs and move to Manitoba (or New Zealand or Maui or Puerto Rico). I would do it. My husband smiles at me and says, No.

When I get somewhere I've never been, I like to wander aimlessly until I find something that strikes my fancy. Which is how I was raised. It drove me nuts as a kid, and of course, I've turned into my own parents.

My husband, on the other hand, needs an itinerary from start to finish. Given his druthers, every waking moment would be scheduled. Which reduces the anxiety of But what will we do when we get there?

Me? I'd be like, I dunno. Let's ask that old beardy guy sitting in front of that shack over there.

Beardy guy would tell us where the best fall color is.

My husband's family has very deep roots in Vermont, and he should see it. Dammit. And then someday he can tell his grandkids about his trip to Vermont -- the one his wife forced him to take.

What did you see, Grandpa? they will ask. I dunno. Some leaves and stuff, he will shrug.

FOLIAGE! I will yell from the kitchen, and then cackle my ass off.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Turn

They tell me today is the last day of summer and tomorrow is the first day of fall, and again I think I've gone and missed a whole season.

Although, to be fair, I spent much of it wrapped in a sweater and I only recall one or two times when it was genuinely hot, and one of those times was before we had air conditioning and a few friends came over and sat outside with us in the sun and we all sweated and drank sangria.

I was probably supposed to do something to acknowledge summertime. Go on a hay ride? Go to the beach? Pick fruit? I don't know what happened. June-July-August-BAM, I hadn't been out in it, soaking up all of the summerness of it.

We had a death in the family in April and I know it's not just me who's been dazed and confused again since then. Again. Again. Some people never get off track -- there are things they just do every day, every month, every season, every year. We know we're not like that, but we're going to convince our children that we are. We will. They mustn't acquire our fog.

I asked friends a couple of weeks ago: When can we decorate for fall?

Last year I did not decorate for fall. The night before Halloween we scavenged near-empty bins in the grocery store for pumpkins, most of them rotted. There are deals to be had the night before Halloween on pumpkins, but then you'd be like me, foggy and not getting things done.

A friend says she plans to start this weekend, which could work. It is supposed to be 96 degrees on Sunday and my fog won't let me decorate for fall until it's cloudy and the leaves are turning, and if I'm being honest, I will probably plop a couple of pumpkins on the porch and call it done and done.

What should be done to acknowledge the fall? An apple harvest, a grape harvest. There is a family in Utah that goes every Sunday on a drive to look at fall color -- they are probably not familiar with my foggy way of existing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It got ugly, didn't it?

New official mantra/promise: I will not discuss babies/pregnancy/birth here if/until there is a reason to.

Because ...

I have a friend who was a bit anxious about having a baby and lived in complete denial of her pregnancy for about the first 7 months, during which she wore her normal jeans and bobby-pinned them under her belly, rather than buy maternity pants. She made everyone promise not to tell her stories of their own pregnancies or tell her what she should or should not do and how awful or wonderful this or that aspect of pregnancy/birth/babies could be.

I'm thinking she was on to something. Sometimes no information is really the best information there is. Ignorance is bliss, and all that jazz.

Because my apocalyptic dreams are back. I think I'm on information overload.

No more baby info for a little while, guys. Love ya! Now shut up.

Now.

So, to very purposefully change the subject:

Remember the food pyramid?



And how it says you should get this many grains and that many fruits and veggies and such and such number of proteins and legumes and dairy? Yahp?

Well my new diet plan is to try to get all my different food groups each day. Currently I get lots of dairy, a little protein and an occasional vegetable thrown in here or there. And sometimes an old piece of fruit that's been rolling around in the veggie drawer for a few months.

Mmmm, scurvy.

Mostly I eat lots of bad carbs and empty calories. And diet sodas. Most of my veggies are probably derived from salsa.

So I am making a chart for myself that I plan to post on the fridge to ensure I get fill up on the foods I'm supposed to eat, and then hopefully, when I'm done gorging on legumes and kale, I will be too full for chocolate.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Chopping or Chopining

I can hear my neighbor clipping his nails in his bathroom, from where I sit here in my office. So I just turned up the Chopin, which is how I'm rockin' these days.

Shamefully, I am a follower, a person who needs to be told Try this, and so I was watching Dexter -- the episode where Deb has a crush on Carradine's older brother and he suggests Chopin to really get her juices flowing, and then she starts jogging to it, of all things.

If I tried to jog to Chopin, I would probably end up crawling or pirouetting. But I read this book; It was supposed to tell me how to write a book. I figured I could use all the help I can get. I'm just a lowly former journalist who knows how to not bury the lede, and I'm not sure if I'm even able to avoid that any more. My point is that the book recommended playing inspirational music while trying to write, which I tried to do, but everything I played was much too distracting.

Until Chopin. Which ... seems pretty awesome so far. 

I'm afraid my sentence structure these days really leaves something to be desired.

By the way, why is Deb so skinny?

This weekend, I thought I had found the perfect bedroom set. It was midcentury madness and would fit perfectly into my Eichler home, the one I live in in my dreams.


And then I measured, and the set I want -- the set I demand, really -- was one inch too big to fit properly in the room, with all doors being able to open and close unhindered.

One. Inch.

And then I pouted for a couple of hours.

Back to the drawing board on that, among other home improvement projects.

First world problems.

Hello, Monday. We have much to get done.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A new Friday video tradition?

Ah, Friday. Usually by Friday, I am well beyond the point where I have overshared and run out of things to talk about here. And yesterday, in anticipation of this very day, as I was heating up my lunch in my accursed malfunctioning microwave, I decided to tape the titillating experience for your viewing enjoyment so that I wouldn't have to come up with something ELSE to write about!

Just call me Planny Plannerson. We may have a new tradition in the making here -- Video Friday!

Now, before you watch, just a few things here:

1) Do not worry about why there are fourteen quadrillion things on my kitchen counter, including apples, citrus fruit, and brown sugar. Do not worry about the literature on top of the microwave or the rapidly rotting bananas.

2) Yes, my microwave is actually that dirty. But, as I explained earlier this week, I am focusing on more important things, like writing a novel, biatch!

3) In the video I reference heating up "dinner," but I rarely heat up dinner in the microwave. I heat up lunch almost every day. A boring technicality, but I am nothing if not a stickler for the facts. Ma'am.

4) Usually it takes a LOT longer for the microwave to start.

5) If you want to make this awesome pasta with tomato cream sauce from Pioneer Woman, just click here, my friend. You won't be sorry.

With that, here goes nothing! Again!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Local woman of little mystery

So here is a confession that I didn't think I would share with you, but I have a problem with holding back and also, I see little harm in sharing this, other than the fact that I will always be unable to surprise you.

And actually, when I tell you this, you are going to roll your eyes and then go read the news or return to your spreadsheet or whatever it is you probably ought to be doing.

My confession is this: I just finished this book, Get Ready to Get Pregnant: Your Complete Prepregnancy Guide to Making a Smart and Healthy Baby.



Firstly, I am not pregnant. I am getting ready to get pregnant, as the book states, and what I realized after finishing this book is the following:

1. I am not ready to get pregnant.

2. I should have read this book 14 years ago. Literally.

3. I took a test in this book that was supposed to grade my readiness for pregnancy, as far as my health is concerned, and I scored 40%. The good news is that I could have scored in the negatives, which is what happens when you are an alcoholic whose husband beats her and who smokes two packs a day and sometimes snacks on two-day old cat turds out of the litter box.

4. Toxoplasmosis. I love that word. It is not a good thing to ever get, but say it with me: Tockso-plazz-mosis!

5. My baby is probably going to be schizophrenic or autistic, or both.

6. If I can get pregnant. There is a 15% infertility rate for women my age. Oh, my poor, aging ovaries.

7. I should have probably stuck with my New Year's resolution to lose weight.

8. Everything in my house is going to kill me (or the fetus. Mmmm, fetus). My water, my food, my bed, my cats, dust mites, the paint on the walls. We are doomed.

9. I have the eating habits of a 19-year-old male.

10. This book sucked.

So there you have it. I might not be ready to get pregnant, and Dr. Lu would probably put me on a diet for two years before he would be OK with me conceiving, but my plan is to blithely disregard almost everything he says.

Things I will take to heart -- eating my fruits and veggies, eating organic/antibiotic-free/hormone-free food, drinking filtered water, not sniffing car fumes or eating cat poops, cleaning my house, and going for a walk every now and then. Also, I am scheduling a dental appointment (GAHHHHH) and will be getting a flu shot.

Dr. Lu can pretty much suck it in regards to everything else.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Monkey news

I'm in a bitchy mood today (fancy that!) so I am turning off my phone and cutting this entry short.

A couple things that may interest you --

  • I added a few blogs to my blog roll, over there on the right, under the archives. Some of these people are kindred spirits, some of them are just entertaining, and some of them are both. Some of them are amazing and some of them are silly. 
  • I cooked this Pioneer Woman recipe for dinner last night and it was THE BOMB. Although if you live with a meat eater like I do he may proclaim that it tastes damn good but could use some meat. I stand by my assertion that meat is completely unnecessary in this dish. Cook it. It's easy, and it's super delicious.  (FYI -- I only had half an onion and it turned out great. Also I used only a pound of pasta rather than 1.5 lbs, and it turned out great. Saucy. Me likey the saucy.)
  • I bought strawberries at the grocery store and the ones in the middle of the basket were moldy, which made me feel all ragey inside. 
  • Survivor starts tonight. You should watch it. It's the right thing to do, as PW says. 
  • My microwave is dying a slow death, which also makes me feel ragey inside.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    And then there's the book

    The other day I met a woman at a party and she asked me what I do for a living, and I told her I don't have a "real" job -- I'm writing a book.

    (Tangent: Everyone pretty much thinks you're full of shit when you say something like this. They are pretty sure you are sleeping in 'til noon and watching Oprah.)

    And she asked me how I am able to work from home, and I told her it was a cinch. I said I get up in the morning and I have a routine I follow pretty well and I don't really have a problem with sticking to the program.

    Which I think I believed when the words were coming out of my mouth, but what I have come to realize is it was a humongous lie.

    I can't begin to tell you how difficult it is to write from home. There are always -- always -- things that need to get done around the house, and in the back of my mind I'm plotting dinner recipes and trips to the grocery store and the post office and the phone is ringing and someone is knocking on the door in the middle of a brilliant thought -- probably the only brilliant thought I will have all month -- and then it's gone because someone wanted to convert me to the Church of Latter Day Saints. 

    If I were organized, there would be better established routines, days and hours when I would do certain things so my mind wouldn't be worrying over the pile of laundry in the dryer or the empty fridge. But I am not organized and my home is not organized and lately I've been daydreaming about sitting in an empty room on a hill, with only a computer and a view of the ocean, stretching as far as I can see.

    This is almost certainly why employers do not want to allow their employees to work from home.

    I tell myself that as soon as I finish selling things on eBay (more time consuming than you'd imagine) or organizing stuff for a garage sale or cleaning the bathrooms, I won't feel so distracted and I can write. But this is another lie.

    I believe that because I don't have a "real" job, there are so many other things I should be getting done every day, and people have said this to me, too -- that I should be doing so much more with my time -- but this is somewhat wrongheaded thinking. If anything, I should be hunkering down and working harder than ever on the book, never mind the mold in the shower and unmade bed and the 50 unread e-mails and the blog -- good grief, the blog.

    You must pardon this entry, because it's really just me psyching myself up for what's to come. I have only this one life, and only this one section of time in my life to do this, and what I know is that if I spend it worrying about the dishes or what's for dinner instead of what I set out to do -- write a book, goddammit -- I will regret that more than if I'd never quit my job to try writing.

    This book, unfinished, would be more heartbreaking than if it had never been started.

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    So worth it

    There was much bickering and bitching and moaning and preparation involved in what I have deemed the Great Sell Off of 2010, but when all was said and done, it was SO. Worth it.

    Because now? I have my living room back. There are three things in it. A couch, a table and a lamp. It is bliss.

    I shall show you some awesome before-and-after photos but first, just a quick rundown of how the garage sale went. For starters, two neighbors backed out of the block sale, which resulted in only two homes participating in the block sale, which pissed off a lot of people who thought they were coming to a -- You guessed it! -- block sale, per my advertisement on Craigslist.

    I had always promised myself I would never talk shit about my neighbors on this blog because, HELLO, I live next to them, and as one of my neighbors says quite frequently: We must keep the peace at all costs.

    But to those neighbors who backed out literally at the last minute? You can suck it. That was just rude.

    MOVING RIGHT ALONG.

    The sale was to start at 8 a.m. but early birds showed up at 7 a.m. and bought all the best stuff right away. I didn't even have time to brush my teeth. The crowd between 8 and 9 a.m. was INSANE. It was like Macy's was having a 75% off sale and everything! must! go!

    We sold almost everything. By 1 p.m. all that remained were three small boxes of stuff that we loaded into the car and took to Goodwill. Also around 1 p.m., a neighbor who'd bought a desk from us came back to return it.

    I know that We must keep the peace at all costs, but Neighbor Who Returned The Desk? You can suck it. This is not Target, this is a garage sale. You can actually suck it twice. We put the desk on the corner with a "Free" sign and it was gone in an hour.

    I almost -- almost -- feel guilty, because some of these people who bought this stuff were surely hoarders. They bought armloads of random stuff, seemingly unable to stop themselves, and I imagined them returning home with their new treasures and deciding, Well, I suppose I can put these in the bathtub. Showers are overrated.

    All right, I will shut up now and give you the photos.

     THE HORROR. It's like an episode of "Hoarders." 


     You might wonder who would want all this crap. You would be surprised. 


    Did you just get chills? Because I do, every time I walk past the living room now.

     The mess from a different vantage point, standing near the front door. This is why people always ask, "Oh, did you just move in?"


    That is one big blank thing of beauty. 

    Guess what's up next? Paint. You get four guesses which color I will choose. 

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Ashes

    Forty-eight minutes up the peninsula, a neighborhood was incinerated last night when a gas main exploded. On television, a ball of flame licked the night sky as the broken pipe chugged natural gas into the air.

    Four people are dead and many others missing and I don't know what happens to all of it when the fires come through. I don't know how you can find bodies or anything at all because it's all flattened. Gourmet kitchens with stainless steel appliances, staircases and Sleep Number beds and all of the rosebushes, everything except for the chimneys: Flat, melted, burned, obliterated.

    A woman driving home from work last night saw the explosion about five doors down from her own home. She gathered her children and says as she left the heat was so intense that the vinyl on her home's windows was melting into the grass.

    When you stand in the burned wreckage of a person's home, you might as well be standing on the moon, for all that your mind understands it. I stood one morning at the stone entrance to a hillside home and the entrance was all that remained. I turned and the owner stood a few feet away with his hands in his pockets. He smiled.

    Fire victims are always grateful to be alive, at first.

    Working in the Sierra foothills, we gained a new understanding of fire. It wasn't something that happened to other people. It was something that devastated neighborhoods, that killed people in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Half the town were volunteer fire fighters, and I vividly recall the day a woman -- a firefighter -- was killed after she was dropped by helicopter on a hillside and the fire overcame her.

    Fire wasn't something you could stop, drop, and roll in the mountains. Fire was something where, when you saw it, you ran the other way. Unless you were a reporter.

    Fire ripped across open fields and more than once I came across a barricaded highway where smoke poured over the asphalt from a nearby fire. When I was new there, I wished they would let me across so I wouldn't have to take the hour-long detour through winding, remote hills. But, of course, you couldn't go through because if you did, you would die. I gained a healthy respect for fire.

    Following scenes like these, and others having little to do with fire aside from being similarly devastating, I have a low tolerance for human suffering. I think a lot of reporters do -- it just doesn't appear that way. Being there and reporting on the event is their way of helping, even if sometimes it looks like the opposite of help. Being here on my couch and watching the television, I am helpless.

    Thursday, September 09, 2010

    Sell off

    Well, the garage sale is almost here, and am I ready? That's a big fat no.

    Everything that can go, will go, and everything that doesn't sell will be donated. The problem is sifting through all of our stuff to figure out what stays and what goes and if something stays why does it stay and where does it go?

    I am no organizational wizard.

    I'm a minimalist in my heart and a hoarder in true life.

    There are still boxes and boxes and boxes I need to sort through before the garage sale Saturday and I still need to price everything and put signs around the neighborhood and why didn't we just rent a big Dumpster and trash everything? We fantasize about doing that, and of course during the great Grandma-House-Cleanup of 2009, we sent several vanloads of stuff to the dump and you can't help but feel guilty about it but I assure you that if you live more than 90 years on this planet and never hold your own garage sale, what is going to happen after you die is that your kin are going to truck many of your treasures to the dump. They can take only so much. Once they discover the fourteenth jar of mayonnaise, they will throw up their hands in exasperation and their next call will be to Waste Management.

    Yes, we fantasize about dumping this stuff, but I want to be environmentally friendly. Someone wants this stuff or needs it and wants to give me their pocket change for it. I want these bargain hunters -- nay, I need them -- to take these things away. If it stays here much longer, I may go berserk and pile it on the front lawn and light it all on fire.

    I must be off: The boxes beckon. I will take photos so that later, when everything is painted and tidied and organized and beautiful I can show you how I went from a mess to success. Oh, yes. Success.

    Wednesday, September 08, 2010

    Chinese Banquet

    If there is one thing I am smug about, it's my multicultural experiences. The more of these experiences I have under my belt, the more I can boast that I know exactly what to do should the occasion to experience these ... experiences ... arise again.

    ("Allow myself to introduce ... myself." -- Mike Myers as Austin Powers.)

    So when I had the opportunity to experience a Chinese banquet on Saturday, I assured everyone at my table that this wasn't my first rodeo. The banquet followed a wedding between a Chinese woman and an Indian man. The couple had two ceremonies -- one Hindu and one Western, with an Indian luncheon between the two. They were wrapping everything up with a traditional extravagant Chinese banquet in the evening, where they hosted more than 200 people. No small cost, I am sure.

    At one point about halfway through the banquet, the bride's father asked me if there was enough food and I looked at him like he was insane. There was enough food to feed five times as many people as were actually in the room, and I was already full.

    I'd learned at another Chinese banquet we attended just over a year ago, following the funeral of a dear friend's father, that there will be plenty of food, so one mustn't gorge oneself early on in the meal.

    There were something like 12 courses and I took pictures of most of them. Some were a bit exotic for my taste, but I tried everything except for the sea cucumber, which I assure you is not a vegetable but more like a sea slug. My husband tells me he really did not enjoy the taste of it, and he usually enjoys pretty much all seafood.

    Here you go, photos accompanied by explanations of what each dish is...

    The explanation on the menu card said "BBQ pork and meat." We think there was some duck and tofu in there, and what appears to be noodles are actually jellyfish.



    A delicious scallop dish with pickled something-or-the-other and pine nuts. 



     
    Forgot to take a photo of the conch and prawn dish, which you can see here, it's the dish with all the broccoli on it. Conch isn't bad, but probably not my favorite, dawg. 


    A blurry photo of the abalone and sea cucumber dish. Those are abalone slices on top and sea cucumber is underneath, with spinach.


     A bite of sea cucumber. Don't do it!!


     Blurry photo of crispy chicken. That's the chicken head. 


     My favorite dish - lobster and pasta.



     What was left of the smoked sea bass. 



     Seafood fried rice. 



    That brownish bowl of soup on the top left is shark fin soup, or as we called it, shark snot soup, since it had the approximate consistency of snot. As soon as we said this, one fellow at our table who was suffering from a wicked hangover immediately pushed the snot soup aside. The darker brown soup is a sweet red bean soup, a desserty dish that wasn't my favorite.


    Cake. Yumm.

    Tuesday, September 07, 2010

    CAT SHOW!

    So, I like cats, and I also like making fun of people who are strangely obsessed with cats to the point that they wear cat T-shirts and neglect to comb their hair because they would rather comb their cat's hair, so I decided that on Sunday we would attend a cat show.

    To be precise: The Jazzy Cats California Gold Rush cat show. The show's logo, which was printed on the T-shirts we almost bought for shits and giggles, featured a cat in miner's gear holding up a nugget of gold and exclaiming, "Eureka!"


    I love cat people.

    There are rules to follow at the cat show. Namely, one should never actually TOUCH the cats because GERMS! and also, these are SHOW CATS whose coats have just been brushed and if you touch their coats with your grimy hands, the judges will NOTICE and then whose fault will it be that Dr. Sniffles didn't win the show?

    Also, one should never speak too loudly in the presence of a show cat because one would not want to overwhelm the cat so that he does not perform to his peak ability later on when the judge is poking him in the eyeballs and feeling his testicles.

    Never mind that there is a dude who is CONSTANTLY saying dumb shit over the loudspeaker, such as:

    "Maureen, can you bring me a taco?"

    or

    "This is the fourteenth call for Number 346. Does anyone know where 346 is?"

    or

    "CAT OUT! LOOSE CAT!"

    Not included in the rules at the cat show is one thing I would think would be a given: No flash photos. But people were taking flash photos hither and thither, and with every flash the cats would twitch and crouch and look just a little more Mr. Hyde. Being the very considerate cat lover I am, I refrained from flash photos.

    Please enjoy the following photographs, although some of them are a bit fuzzy. I'm not sure what all the different breeds are, but they're fun to look at! 

     Hello Mr. Meow Meow Face. 



     A sleeping Maine Coon named Windwalker. Note the sign about GERMS!



     A couple of kittens going berserk during judging. 


     Is it just me or does this cat look straight up human? Creeps me the hell out.


     This is a Savannah. These cats get really big.


     Oh buddy. Come to mama.


     Big orange Maine Coon. 



     What the tables with all the cat cages looked like. 



     A judging area.


     Look at these adorable tiger striped kittens!! 


     These little hairless jobbies are actually quite cute and friendly. 



     The owner of this cat bopped me on the head with a cat toy. Long story. 



     One of the judges.



     Another judge.

    Friday, September 03, 2010

    Son of a ....

    Ok. I showered, put on makeup and recorded a video blog, but my expertise apparently ends there, as I was unable to make the sound match up with the video, and when you throw my PMS rage into the mix, I am giving up on the entire day as of right now and would someone please bring me a vat of chocolate?

    Aside from that, I lost one follower last night and then today blocked a follower who was really a spammer that just wanted to sell me products to treat eczema, which is one of the few problems I do not currently have at the moment. Anyway, that means I have 99 followers and don't need to post a video blog, so everyone can just suck it today.

    *********
    UPDATE
    *********

    All right. I figured out how to sync audio and video, although BE YE WARNED that in the beginning of the video I look like a zombie ghost with no face. That effect disappears in the first few seconds.

    So, also, you should know that:

    1) This video is 3 minutes and 12 seconds long, is unedited, and is the first and only take I did today because PMS RAGE and IMPATIENCE. If you have a problem with the length of the video, you can suck it.

    2) In this video, I discuss the disgusting stuffed cabbage I made for dinner last night. If you have a problem with me discussing stuffed cabbage, you can suck it.

    3) The office in the background of the video is a mess. If you have a problem with this, you know what you can do.

    Thursday, September 02, 2010

    Scattered

    I am gathering my thoughts today. They have no order. So I'm doing a list.

    1. I threw some old beans in the garbage last night and this morning guess what the whole house smelled like? Disgusting old beans.

    2. I ache all over today. Jillian Michaels' fault.

    3. The office is a horrible mess.

    4. It appears I am going to have to film a video blog soon. I think I will post it Friday. Wait, tomorrow is Friday? What the hell.

    5. What the hell am I going to say on a video blog? Blergh.

    6. Need to keep writing...

    7. I'm attending a wedding this weekend. And a cat show.

    8. I need to get organized for a block sale.

    9. Today is Lisa's birthday. She has a funny laugh.

    10. I need to plant more plants in the front yard.

    11. My neighbors are going to hate me because I asked the city to install stop signs at our intersection and the city actually said yes. Or maybe they'll love me.

    12. My neighbor's mother was just killed by a car. But not here.

    13. I've decided I want to call my next door neighbor The Captain from now on.

    14. I just ate a really big salad.

    15. Yesterday Words with Friends let me play the word "homos" and today it let me play "douche." The week can pretty much not get any better.

    16. I need to collect donations for the Juvenile Diabetes walk. I keep forgetting.

    17. October is going to be crazy.

    18. Sometimes I forget how old I am. I think I finally feel old and not like a 16 year old in some fat lady's body.

    19. I need to make to-do lists but I never do. But I will. I will.

    20. I need to Nair my 'stache.

    21. I've never been in a love triangle. I wonder what that is like.

    22. I want to have a giveaway on my blog. But first I need to figure out what would be cool to give away. I have lots of "treasures."

    23. I just got distracted because I started my to-do list.

    Goodbye.

    Wednesday, September 01, 2010

    Shredded

    If the thought had occurred to me this morning, I might have considered calling 911 to request an ambulance, since it was possible I was about to die.

    As it happened, I instead just thought to myself:

    Well. This might be it. I think I am having an asthma attack and a panic attack at the same time, and what is probably going to happen is I am going to pass out and knock my head on something and bleed out and die. 

    Later, my husband would discover my body, and being a sensible person, he would call 911.

    What happened, officer? he might ask. 


    Well, sir, the officer would say, It appears your wife was attempting to exercise. 


    My husband would nod knowingly.


    As it happens, Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred did not kill me, it only temporarily incapacitated me by causing me to have labored breathing and making me feel like I had to vomit. The nausea stayed with me for about an hour, which is pretty impressive, Jillian, I must say.

    I knew I was probably in for it about 30 seconds into the video, when I was doing windmills with my arms and I'd already broken a sweat. Lest there is any doubt as to my serious lack of fitness, let me explain: There are three levels of the Shred, from easiest to hardest, and they are each 20 minutes long. About halfway through the easiest level this morning, I had to stop because I couldn't catch my breath.

    I'd always thought that if I ever had a chance to be on a show for mediumly fat people, I would totally do it and would take all the punishment that a trainer like Jillian could dish out, but as of today I have completely changed my mind. I am not cut out for it.

    There was a time when Level 1 of the Shred would have been totally doable for me. Those were my 1,000 calorie days, when I was thin(ner) and could run and do lunges and lift weights and I had hip bones and a clavicle. Aren't clavicle bones sexy?

    I've been thinking about those days lately. Well, I think about those days all the time, because I am trying to get those days back, hence the near death experience this morning. 

    I do this a lot, these big starts, although it goes against the advice of almost every one of the considerable number of diet books I have read. I'm convinced one day it will stick, so I keep doing it.