Thursday, August 28, 2008


Today was another day of acquiring new glasses, only this time they weren't for me.
The spectacle-wearer's first comment? "My sister said I look like a nerd in glasses."
My response? "Do you think you look like a nerd?"
"My sister does."
"I think they make you look smart."
"Yeah, that's what I said: 'A NERD.'"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


The leaves are falling and turning yellow and red already, and it's not even September yet. Some of us are confused about this weather condition, not sure whether it's unseasonably autumn or just the normal course of events at this time of year.
I talked to the guy who usually checks out our books at the library today. He was sans glasses, which I thought was a new look for him. He said he only wears contact lenses in the summer. All winter he wears glasses, but he won't wear them in the summer because in the hot weather the glasses keep sliding down his nose. I think that's a point I missed in my glasses commentary below. I told him about my recent analysis of the pros and cons of glasses vs. contacts. He volunteered that it's an exciting event when one gets new frames and lenses, which is what I was already thinking. (One of those memories that steadfastly sticks in my head is that when I was 12 or 13 and met my dad's friend Ralph, who came over for dinner, my attempt at trying to engage Ralph in polite conversation was to tell him my dad had just gotten new glasses that day, to which Ralph replied, "I don't give a damn about his new glasses." I was never sure if he thought he was being funny or honest, and I had also just watched him drink six beers in about one hour.)
Last night I tried to come up with a meal from the remnants of months and months of neglected pantry food. After I went through a few partially empty boxes and discarded all the food that had long passed its expiration date, I actually cleared off three shelves. For dinner, the pantry and I came up with canned peas, and a small pan of lasagna, with added spaghetti sauce, American cheese (not found in the pantry), and seasoned breadcrumbs (how does a person use 64 ounces of seasoned breadcrumbs?). The reluctant addition of the American cheese, upon learning that the cheddar cheese was a little moldy, actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Someone told me today that you can't go wrong with adding anything to pasta. I also came to terms with using a package of instant sweet mashed potatoes. It's been sitting there on the shelf, taunting me with its ease of preparation, in spite of its hideous flavor. Well, I made it, and I ate it, but nobody else here who had it on their plate would touch it.
I feel a little guilty and sad today, as I ended my account with the auto insurance company I've had for about 13 years. I found a company that would enable me to save $40 per month. The old insurance company and my mother thought it wasn't necessarily a good idea to switch policies. There's the risk of the new insurance raising rates significantly if I get into an accident, they said. There's the risk of going with someone new who you don't know, who might not be as nice as the familiar people. I guess I am willing to take the risk, and hope that the naysayers are not going to be right.
It rained today, and I was cold in my sleeveless shirt when I was outside. I guess I'll have to make an effort to watch the weather when I make those difficult wardrobe decisions in the morning.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Office Polls and Nerdy Glasses

Today I polled my co-workers. No one else received the rude awakening Sunday morning at 5:26 a.m. that I received about 9-1-1 being out of service, but one co-worker concurred with my feeling about the level of urgency one might anticipate upon hearing the phone ring at that hour: Someone I love probably died. Or something is really, really wrong.
Today I picked up my new glasses, exciting for me to be back to my nerdy roots. I lost my glasses in December, so I've had to contend a little bit every day since then with an old pair that's too weak for my eyes.
I wondered to myself why I wear contact lenses. I guess there are lots of reasons, including being able to wear sunglasses, having greater freedom of movement, and not getting raindrops or fog on my glasses, but the original reason, dating back to the eighth grade, was so I didn't look like such a nerd. Today if I look like a nerd, no one will notice and no one will care. Come to think of it, in the eighth grade or anytime thereafter, the same was probably true.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A County-Wide Rude Awakening

Have I ever gotten a phone call at 5:26 a.m.? I doubt it. Oh, that's right, I did get one this morning. Why do I think I might get a phone call at 5:26 a.m.?

1) Wrong number.
2) Tragedy or death struck someone I love.
3) The county calls to give everyone in the county a phone number to call because 9-1-1 is not in service.

As I violently awoke from the depths of a comforting, restful, healthy sleep, contemplating whether the phone call at 5:26 a.m. fell under #1 or #2, I decided not to answer the call. Fully awake after the fourth ring, I decided that if the phone call fell under reason #2, which I would want to take, the caller would know and use my cell phone if it were truly urgent. I decided it was a wrong number after listening for a possible follow up ring on my cell phone and none came. I lay awake, alone, for about 10 minutes, kind of scared to get up, go down the hall, and to the kitchen to find out if the caller left a message. I heard a few noises in the house. Half-asleep fear of the darkness and the unknown entered my consciousness briefly, and I irrationally wondered if I should lock my bedroom door. After about a half hour, I went back to sleep, the desire for sleep blocking out my fear, my rational subconsciousness telling me I live in a safe neighborhood, and that the noises were probably my imagination.

Later in the morning, at a more decent hour, I got up to see if the caller had left a message. There was a message there. I expected it to be the wrong number. Someone had just called our house on Friday, thinking they had called a restaurant.

It turns out the reason fell under #3. It wasn't even a call made from a human. I wouldn't have minded if the county's new alert system called me at 5:26 a.m., or any time of day, morning, or night, to warn me of a tornado, earthquake, volcano, neighborhood plane crash, deadly chemical spill, environmental catastrophe, or imminent terrorist attack. But to wake me up that early on a Sunday morning to tell me that, just in case I might need to call 9-1-1, that I should use a different phone number, because 9-1-1 doesn't work at 5:26 a.m.? What were they thinking? With all that advanced technology, why couldn't they just forward the calls to the non-9-1-1 number? Or just anticipate that someone in an emergency situation might open up a phone book, page 1, to look up the local ambulance, police, or fire telephone number, if that someone couldn't get through on 9-1-1?

Did anyone ask me if I wanted to be part of this emergency alert system? Did anyone ask me if I wanted to be alerted if 9-1-1 doesn't work? Who decided that this constituted an emergency? Thanks, but no thanks.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

From Hell to Heaven

A bright, shiny, brilliant day. A great day to watch "From Hell." At least it's over and now I can mail it back. I started to watch it last Friday night but didn't get through the whole thing, so it took me a week and a day to get back to it. It was very dark.
Today I had a revelation from above. Well, I mean a revelation from looking up at the brilliant, blue sky. I looked up at the sky and I realized that mankind has artificially created humanity's idea of a higher power that resides in heaven. We have all-knowing satellites that look down upon us from up above in the ethereal realm, with the ability to monitor and record what we do, check on us to see if we're engaging in any wrongdoing, and send us information, but we can't see them. It's a self-prophesizing phenomenon. Something the authors of religious texts from centuries ago never could have imagined or foreseen.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sometimes I Talk Too Much?

Today I contemplated, as I do often, the act of having a conversation. I did that because, as I do often, I have conversations with people. Sometimes I feel bad about these conversations because those people don't respond in kind, meaning that they don't respond to what I'm saying, or give me a completely disinterested response, or don't get it and don't want to get it.

All of my conversations with people today were disappointing (and these were just the primary ones):

Conversation with Person #1: Total Disconnect. One-Word Responses. Not Even Trying to Listen or Comprehend or Participate.
Conversation with Person #2: Pretending to Listen, But Not Listening. Forgot Everything I Said Within Moments of Me Speaking It.
Conversation with Person #3: One-Way Talker. I tried to intervene with my own comments, experiences, and suggestions, but she interrupted all of it.
Conversation with Myself: I have a headache.

I did have a nice conversation on the phone with someone today. She's always nice, compassionate and considerate, and she listens. And I listened too. I didn't think of it until much later, after my headache started wear off.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Repetition in Moderation

I had a weekend almost as if someone hit "repeat" on my life machine. Back down to the hometown, back to the pontoon, back to fresh air, back to a visit with both parents, and ate more Mexican food. Just as with most everything novel, it's energizing to get a change of perspective/scenery/company, but the novelty never fails to wear off. Never. Fails. To. Wear. Off. N-e-v-e-r .... f-a-i-l-s ... t-o ... w-e-a-r ... o-f-f ...
... that third time was rather cumbersome, wasn't it?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Ghosts of Academia

Being in a college town brings a marked change in season come mid-August. Some college towns may start the semester without much change in the environment, but here, everything is different. Lifestyles require adjusting, especially our driving habits, restaurant patronization, and shopping. Even the way we drive should be adjusted, as those out of state people and young whippersnapper drivers take many more chances with turning in front of people, stopping suddenly, and not paying attention.
Those are some of the more obvious changes that signal the change of the season. What I never realized, until now, after having spent several, several seasons noting the change in the air, the traffic, the life I live at this time of year, is realizing I unconsciously re-live the feelings of starting college for the first time, every August that I'm here: my mom driving me to the dorm doorstep, helping me carry the possessions I chose to accompany me to my new home, boxes of books, paintings, blankets, clothes, and other things I didn't want to live without; the feeling of expectation and anticipation, not knowing what adventures are in store for me, thinking about what I expected college would bring and then gradually living it out, each time, the anticipation and good feeling gradually wearing off as reality set in with worries about being on my own, worries about finances, being down to my last $11 on a regular basis, problems with boyfriends, meeting shady people, working in jobs where people are cruel and demeaning, overcrowding, parking problems, and going to countless classes with hundreds and hundreds of strangers who talk to each other with mindless small talk, me being silent most of the time and listening to people who actually know each other, and taking pages and pages and pages of notes, noticing that my classes were more challenging in high school and that I received a better education in a small-town public school before I got to college.
Now that I realize that I unconsciously or subconsciously re-live those feelings each August that I'm here, I feel more compassion for those who are here and away from home for the first time. It's exciting, but may, for a lot of people, turn out to have a fair amount of negativity in the experiences that are supposed to be the best years of a person's life. Maybe it's just me.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Let's Play Soup-Heroes, My Cousin Used to Say When He Was Four and I Was Eight

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
I watched this movie last week because I suddenly got interested in Alan Moore after hearing about The Watchmen/Minutemen, and he wrote comic books (I mean graphic novels; what's the difference?) that the movies are based on. My TV isn't very big, and it's a movie that has characters and objects that are supposed to be big, big, big, so it would have helped if my TV didn't make everything look small.
I didn't fall asleep on this one, though, so that says a lot for the movie. Overall, it wasn't a waste of time. I'm glad I saw it.
It was amusing how the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen consisted of an eclectic mix of characters from other stories -- Tom Sawyer, a vampire, Mr. Hyde, Dr. Jekyll, Captain Nemo, and Dorian Gray ... I kept thinking Dorian Gray sounded like Oscar Wilde's creation that I read a long time ago, and it turns out that I was right, but I was sure I was wrong (Oscar Wilde influencing a comic book story? How could it be possible?) ...
That vampire was a woman and she was part of the league, too. No one mentioned the insult to her gender in the name of the group, The Extraordinary Gentlemen. That's the one thing I disliked about comic books, always. They're sexist (Crumb?). Women are typically objects. Sometimes they're clever and they do good things. But mostly they're there for the benefit of the men. That's why boys tend to like comic books more than girls do.
Anyway, combining the mismatched characters is just funny, because it's characteristic of all the comic book and superhero fans and their imaginations that have taken off as a result of reading them -- maybe it's a classic superhero story move, where eccentric characters come together to fight evil, but these characters are odd because they're creations of other artists from various times, banded together. Going back to when I was very young, my cousin's impassioned plea upon the passage of every 20 minutes: "Let's play soup-heroes; you're Wonder Woman, I'm Superman, she's The Great Shark, she can be Flash ...." Then we'd have to go over all the superpowers each of us would have before we got started with the story .... I miss being eight. Sometimes.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Wonder

Why does it seem so amazing when your own children create things? Anything? Cards, pictures, cookies, stuffed animals ... babies ... ?
Today they were delicious chocolate cookies created from a cake mix. They were perfectly shaped and tasted like chocolate-flavored sugar cookies.
Yesterday there was a stuffed animal, a cat, made from a purple striped shirt, with two matching buttons for the eyes sewed on. It was clearly a creature, with each arm and leg, the head, the tail and the body sewed and stuffed separately and then joined together with thread. I took a picture of it.
I'm not sure why it's so amazing and incredible, since it is in our human nature that we all create.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Good Sunny Day

Saturday was spent driving through perfect weather and scenery to my hometown one hour and 15 minutes away from here. At the park there, there was a lot going on and I ran into a whole bunch of people I haven't seen in awhile, and a few more people I'd seen more recently. It all happened so fast. All of the sudden we were at a Mexican restaurant eating burritos and drinking margaritas in a big, colorful courtyard where each wall was painted a different, bright color in pure Mexican style. Then I paid a visit to a relative, and after I left there I went to a friend's house, where I wandered around, went on a pontoon, listened to the Rubber Band, and had some good food and saw friends. At the end of the night I was going to drive the hour and fifteen minutes back, but it was dark and one of those technologically advanced warning signs related to tire pressure appeared on my dashboard. I decided to wait until morning. I tried to sleep but I was wide awake almost the whole night for some reason. I came back the next day, glad to have had a change of scenery this weekend. Nothing remarkable happened, but it was enough to make me happy.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Adventures in Sandwich Land

Again I awoke to the harsh chirping of the parakeets. I decided to face them, to stare them down and try to figure out why one or both of them was in distress. Once I walked in, they both stood still and went quiet. After a few minutes of our stand-off, the nice boy bird chirped gently and quietly in a little song, while the vicious girl bird continued her high-pitched berating. I gave her some more food and she seemed satisfied for the moment.
Yesterday I found out that the Subway I complained of recently has been robbed by two of its employees. As if I weren't already afraid to go back. Now I really am afraid to go back, except that I'm wondering whether the sandwich guy who gave me trouble last week is still employed. Last week, I wrote about my misadventure in trying to get my roast beef sandwich on whole wheat. I made him mad at me for several reasons, even though I had the very best of intentions. This week, I learn of the robbery.
Today I went to the old standard Subway I usually patronize, where there are outdoor tables and a nice view of the river and the trail. The same familiar guys were there. They're always kind, quick, and make good sandwiches. The sandwich guy said to me, "Oh, I haven't seen you in awhile. Where've you been? Good to have you back!" Not really.
My friend The Film Geek had a funny post today about giving up his car. I listened to the whole five-minute long performance of Neil Young's "Long May You Run" he had posted there with it. It was funny at first, and then as I got halfway through the song, it brought back memories from 1993, having absolutely nothing to do with a car. I had memories of the record player at my house, the reckless abandon of youth, and thinking that the sun rose and set in the eyes of that guy I just met.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Inside and Outside

I awoke to the parakeets chirping wildly and harshly as they do, their sounds filling the house with noisy chatter. Long ago, purchasing a parakeet or two seemed like a great idea when we were not able to have other pets. That was before I discovered how messy and loud they are. I'm sure I'd miss them if they were gone. One of them keeps laying eggs. She has a certain chirp she makes when she's getting ready to lay eggs. This is a new thing. It's a softer, quicker chirp that has one tone, a lower tone than the usual high pitch. Do we want baby parakeets? Do we really want baby parakeets? Some here in the house really, really want them. I don't. The female and the male reside in separate cages. The female seemed to have butchered the last male she shared a cage with. We're not really sure why he died, but I'm pretty sure she had something to do with it. She's the aggressive one. Apparently, male parakeets are nicer than the females. He doesn't bite (well, at least, not too hard and not too often), and he jumps on your finger or shoulder sometimes. The female will reach out and bite you, hard, and keep as far away from you as possible.
Last night I read about some super-achievers from my small hometown. One is a professor for MIT, teaching classes along the lines of a combination of architecture and engineering, and has studied all over the world about maintaining the integrity of historical monuments, bridges, cathedrals, and other structural relics from the past; I also read an article about how he and his "team" created the plans for the building of a structure (in Spain, I think) that is supposed to last 5oo years or more. He has degrees from Cornell, Princeton and the University of Cambridge in the UK. I ask myself, how does one, who doesn't come from a wealthy or even upper-middle-class background, do that from our little, rural, removed town? It makes me believe anything is possible. He has five other siblings, each of whom is doing amazing things.

Monday, August 4, 2008

My Brush With Science Fiction

Today I worked like a machine cranking out matchbox cars or microwave ovens. My productive day had me feeling somewhat good about my work, which is a rarity.
Many days I go completely without phone calls (personal calls, that is), and today I received a handful of calls from people calling to talk just to me, and not having to do with work. I wondered, is this "Remember Your Isolated Friend You Hardly Ever Talk to Day"?
I had the funniest dream of all time this morning about my friend, who I have previously referred to as Yousiphanes (long for "you"). In my dream, I traveled back in time to a party that was going on 20 years ago in my town at an unknown person's house. I saw Yousiphanes standing on a porch, talking to some other people, but, because in real life I've only known him for a year and a half, he didn't know me 20 years ago. I walked up to him and introduced myself. I said, "You don't know me, but you invented a time machine to send me back in time to tell you that you'd meet me in the future. You wanted me to tell you that you helped invent a time machine. You also wish you could have met me 20 years ago." Yousiphanes looked at me quizzically and with natural skepticism, as if he wondered if I was all right, or if I was just trying to be flirtatious in a pathetic way. "I assure you, it's true. Let me show you my time machine. You'll love it."
I know, my brain stole this dream's storyline from a recent Lost episode, when Desmond visits Daniel when he's a professor studying psychology and time travel (it's unclear whether the time travel is in Desmond's own consciousness or not). I woke up laughing.
I don't know, maybe it's just one of those dream things that seemed really cool for a few hours or a day, until it wore off, and then the next day it sounds totally idiotic.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

More Batman

I spent a few hours watching Batman Begins at home today. I already had one nap, but I went to sleep during the slow part anyway. After the movie ended, I went back and watched the part I missed and then it made a lot more sense. I didn't catch the part about Ra'l Salz ... Whatever dying and then being replaced by the goatee guy at all. I read about it afterward when I tried to figure out who Liam Neeson played in the movie. That scarecrow villain guy was way cool. The actor was delightfully psychotic and the scarecrow mask was workably scary. The actor reminded me of a young Rob Lowe. I wish I would have seen Batman Begins before I saw the Dark Knight. It's not that I missed anything in the storyline by not seeing it first; well, perhaps I did, I just didn't know it. I would have already understood who Commissioner Gordon was, and a bit more about the feeling of the movie.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Baby night

I was blessed by the company of a family, albeit a family of strangers, who entered, exited and shopped alongside of me this evening, as I had the good fortune to pay attention to my surroundings because I was sans children, at the grocery store.
I say blessed because the family consisted of a dad (he was wearing a tie-dye T-shirt, which also caught my attention, and he looked like he was in his 40s); a girl of about age 8, and a newborn baby that screamed mindlessly and uncontrollably unless her dad was holding her. Blessed to be taken back to the early baby days of my early, early, early adulthood. The baby didn't look much bigger than a sack of flour and it knew it didn't want to be in the seat. As soon as we checked out in adjacent check-out lines, the baby was strapped back in and wailed, and wailed, and wailed, and wailed, so that it could be heard throughout the store and within a three-mile vicinity (that is, if you happen to have very excellent hearing). At one point, the baby was screaming so hard that its feet were turning purplish pink. I looked over at its baby carrier and all I could see were the backs of tiny little reddish feet.
At the end, in the checkout line, when the dad put the baby back in the seat and the all-consuming wailing commenced again, the checkout clerk commented, "That makes me not want to have children."
I thought, "That makes me not want to have more babies." I remember the feeling of being a new mother, and one of my worst fears about the whole baby experience was not being able to make a baby stop crying in public at places like the grocery store. Feeling helpless and like I and the baby were bothering everyone around brought on extreme anxiety at the time. I can't really recall that ever happening to me more than once. I was shocked that in my first experience with a baby, I got a good one. She hardly ever cried. If she cried, it was easy to figure out what was wrong. Once I figured it out and fixed it, she laughed and smiled and seemed content.
The dad with the baby tonight looked completely unfazed with all that misery the baby was projecting. He obviously had been through all this before. Or, perhaps, mom had dealt with Wailing, Virtually Inconsolable Baby all day and he was giving her a break after getting home from work at 5:45 p.m.
Shortly after that, I met another new baby. She was peacefully sleeping in her seat and she looked beautiful and peaceful, like a painting of a baby, someone's ideal.


While we wish that every post on this blog could be about cool stuff or exciting news, we admit that sometimes our posts are full of mundane drudgery like commenting about one's own headaches.
By the way, feverfew works! (For me, anyway.)

Editor's note: This post was inspired in part by's post about technical difficulties today. Thanks for the inspiration.