April 30, 2004

 i haven't posted about david byrne in a while...

...but i'm counting the days (22) until i drive up to annapolis to see him perform.

also, i thought this was interesting:

David Byrne is watching the people who are watching him.

"For several years I have been photographing security cameras as an art project," the former Talking Head tells Webster Hall curator Baird Jones. "Store owners freak out and think I am casing the joint for a robbery or they think I am a cop. Being mistaken for a cop makes me feel powerful."

Bryne, whose new album is "Grown Backwards," admits that some store owners "become so enraged that they want to attack me." What's more, "I doubt I will ever manage to sell a single one of these photographs."

Posted by xta at 4:00 PM | TrackBack

 goodbye, bob...

i've been on an NPR fast for a couple of weeks, trying to avoid news that makes me angry. iraq, primarily, but also the opposition to gay marraige... and frankly dubya's voice makes me sick to my stomach, too.

anyway, i think i've been a little more happy since i stopped listening. but this morning i tuned in because i knew it was bob edwards' last morning as host of morning edition.

and i sit here now, blubbering like a fool, having just listened to his very last interview and his graceful goodbye. everyone on the program today had the nicest things to say about him, and it's still inconceivable that the higher-ups at NPR would want to get rid of someone so trusted and so much a friend.

i have a feeling that, out of curiosity, i'll tune in monday, too... if only to hear the voice of his replacement. maybe it'll make me appreciate the loss even more. maybe it'll make me passionately continue my fast. it's hard to imagine, though, that the new voice will lure me back.

Posted by xta at 9:07 AM | TrackBack

April 29, 2004

 blossom * water * tile

tonight on divaville: a 2-hour special on blossom dearie. you should definitely make a point to tune in to hear this one... she's got a voice that'll just melt your little heart.

* * *

i have on my desk a huge, 72-ounce, blue-tinted polycarbonate bottle. every day i fill it with water and challenge myself to drink it all. i rarely succeed. yesterday i downed at least 56 ounces, though; pretty good!

but one of my co-workers told me she thought it was possible to drink too much water... that it could actually be dangerous to drink a lot of it.

according to cecil you can drink too much water and actually die (!!) but i'm not consuming nearly that volume of water. besides, i'm still eating a lot of salty cheese puffs, so i think i'm safe.

* * *

so i went straight home last night and continued tiling. i should've taken a picture of the progress i made. alas, you'll just have to take my word for it.

all that's left now is a small chunk to the left of the showerhead, a small chunk at the floor, and the whole top row. i feel pretty confident that i can finish sticking the tiles to the wall this weekend. but i only feel somewhat confident that i can grout this weekend... it might be next week before i can get that far.

i have a blister on my right middle finger from using the snips to cut holes in the tile for the shower head & faucet. i have to say that snipping is the most aggravating part of this project. as soon as i thought i was getting close to perfectly shaping the tile i'd take one more snip and it would crumble in my hand. very frustrating. it took me close to a half-hour to cut the one tile that surrounds the shower head.

but that part is now over (praise jebus) and the only tricky part remaining will be using the tile cutter (not the snips) to trim the top tiles down to size.

Posted by xta at 2:10 PM | TrackBack

April 28, 2004

 simple pleaseures

checking the mail
i just love it. it's usually only bills & magazines, but for some reason i always look forward to checking the mailbox first thing when i get home from work.

sherpa mcnupples' old fashioned, purr-filled love biscuits
yeah, we love our pets a real whole super lot... sherpa makes it too easy for us to be a freakishly attentive pet owners. she'll climb up on you and knead her paws into your belly, thighs, butt... whatever she can get at. she loves making biscuits.

leg-rubs from mimo
he's not as outwardly affectionate as sherpa, but when he's feeling lovey he'll repeatedly rub up against your legs. it makes me smile and pick him up.

organizing groceries in the pantry
when we come back from a shopping trip i always want to be the one to put the groceries away. i love organizing the cans and boxes on the shelves.

eating kevin's mint chocolate chip ice cream
real mint. hear me say it again: real mint... like the leaves that grow in the ground. it's divine. it's on the menu at pop's right now. go getcha some.

hearing ray sing to himself in another part of the house
i love stumbling across someone else's private expression of happiness.

pilot fine-line pens
mmmm... feel that ink flow, baby!

putting leftovers in just-the-right-sized tupperware containers
it's sick, i know. but i get immense satisfaction from finding a container the exact right size to fit the amount of leftovers we have. 2 cups of leftover rice?? no problem... i've got a container for that. a whole cut-up pineapple? no sweat.

being surprised by what grows in my yard
i didn't live here at this time last year, so i'm getting a lot of nice treats.

Posted by xta at 1:30 PM | TrackBack

April 27, 2004


no matter what combination of things i try, i can't seem to get the battery in my ibook to register more than 1/3 of a charge. right now it's plugged in and the orange light is glowing --which normally indicates the battery is charging-- but the battery icon doesn't indicate that it is charging, and it's stuck at 1/3 full.

and this is a new battery... i finally broke down and bought it last week (ebay, $50... it's actually used, i think). that said, even this current problem is better than the headache caused by my old battery (which seemed to die when a big red "X" appeared over the battery icon). still, something in the power manager still isn't letting this new battery charge fully.

i've reset the power manager by removing the battery and pushing a super-secret button. i've even installed something called the "battery updater" from the apple site, and still no go. sigh. i guess it's better than what i had before... at least now the battery holds enough charge so that i can unplug the machine and carry it from one room to another without the battery totally draining and having to reset the clock.

last night ray & i took joe out to pop's for his birthday dinner. kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing. joe picked a nice bottle of sangiovese but ray didn't want any, so joe and i were totally smashed by the end of the night. i was drawing pictures of cats on the brown paper tablecloth. we were also having spelling bees, challenging each other to spell hard words on the table. our poor server probably thought we were nuts when she cleaned up our mess. (which is probably bad for joe, since he's a regular there.)

as a professional radio announcer (bahahaha!) i am slightly repulsed & intrigued by the concept of plastic surgery on voiceboxes. my voice is pretty husky right now... i can't imagine what it'll be like when i'm 40 or 50. i'll sound positively mannish!! maybe i should start saving my pennies for this procedure.

on second thought, no. i had a hard enough time deciding to put highlights in my hair. surgery on my larynx might present too much of a mental obstacle to overcome.

i need to get myself to a driving range soon. the weather is so nice and all i want to do is play golf.

Posted by xta at 3:11 PM | TrackBack

April 26, 2004


i'm totally wiped out. i'm still paying the price for staying up until 4am the night of the prince concert. i feel like i haven't really recovered from that yet.

on saturday i got a slow start, but managed to do a little more tiling in the bathroom. the left wall is now totally done and the right wall has been started. (the right wall will be difficult as it has the shower head and faucet, requiring the tile to be cut with precision around them. i'm generally not good with precision.) i found it difficult working alone... when lisa was helping, she'd take the measurements and i'd cut the tile down to size. alone, this is a lot of jumping back & forth, which elongated the process.

i quit after a few hours and plopped my tired ass on the couch to watch moonlight mile. i don't know whether it was my exhaustion or what, but i cried my friggin' eyes out during this movie. which means i loved it. if a film makes me cry i generally rave about it for weeks on end. (if it doesn't make me cry i just forget about it in a couple of days.)

sunday was another durham symphony concert. our last of the season, in fact. but it was in hillsborough and it sucked up almost my whole day. i got home and immediately collapsed on the bed, and my sweet boyfriend rubbed my tired feet. i love my boyfriend. he was away most of the weekend at a convention, and i was happy when he came back.

together we watched for all mankind, a documentary about the apollo missions to the moon. this was an unusual documentary... there was no narration or strong story line. it consisted of primarly unseen footage that the astronauts took themselves on their missions (home movies filmed on super 8 inside the capsule, for instance) as well as commentary by the astronauts, often totally unrelated to the footage on the screen. it was more of a montage than a narrative story. still, it was fascinating... some of the footage is phenomenal and 'never before seen'. i don't consider myself a really big space-geek (though ray is) but i still really liked this documentary a lot.

so i guess the key to getting the most of out of my netflix membership is to stay so tired that i don't have the energy to do as much work as i need to. that said, i'm going to try to work on the tile a little bit after work each day this week and maybe (hopefully) finish it this weekend.

Posted by xta at 2:59 PM | TrackBack

April 24, 2004


lisa was a genius in getting us to the rbc center early. she wanted to have a tailgate; we brought sandwiches and beer (and oreos) and got to the parking lot around 6pm. we sailed right in and didn't have to deal with traffic problems at all. there were a few other people doing the same thing, and all were playing prince's music from their car stereos. it was a relaxing time.

mary's friend molly happened to be working inside the arena, passing out copies of prince's new cd, "musicology". (she apparently is a rabid hurricanes fan, and had signed up on some 'help wanted' list to get herself into free hockey games. she was surprised to have been called to help for this, but certainly didn't complain.) mary kept calling molly inside the stadium; molly gave us updates as to what was happening behind the closed doors.

dave & shayne found us around 6:30 or so. we drank a few more beers and told stories about being trapped in a car and having to pee. funny how many people have stories like that.

we had a fantastic people-watching spot, perched there on the grass. from middle-aged, geeky white people to young, styling black people... there were women decked out to the nines in skimpy dresses and stiletto heels, and there were 20-somethings in purple jumpsuits and raspberry berets. it was a really nice, mixed crowd and i wondered aloud what other artist could draw such a wide range of people.

we also chatted about the rumored "after-party". i had heard it would be at a club called 'the office' in raleigh. we all vowed that if we were conscious, we'd go. we'd heard such good things about the after-party the last time he was in town...

anyway, we finally went inside around 7:30 or so. mostly because lisa had to pee. :-) we also attempted to look for molly, but really... the rbc center is so fucking huge that even if you tell someone, "look for me in this very specific, unique spot" you're bound to miss them. so having failed at that task we went a got a couple of beers and found our seats.

i have to say that lisa outdid herself in getting us these tickets. she had originally gotten them via ticketbastard, but then decided to try to exchange them for better seats at the rbc box office. she sweet-talked the employee into not giving us the seats that the computer deemed best (which were so far back you could actually touch the ceiling), but rather picked our seats by hand. it paid off. we were in the first row of the upper balcony, with a virtually unobstructed view of the stage. nice.

it has literally been a decade (and maybe more) since i've seen a rock show in a stadium. of course i knew that acoustics in a concrete arena would be bad, but i didn't remember just how bad until the lights went down and a video began playing on the giant screens over the stage. it was a montage of veryquick clips of prince over the years. interspersed were segments of what i now know to be alicia keys introducing prince at his rock and roll hall of fame induction. her speech was incredible but you could hardly understand what she was saying... everything sounded muddy over the speakers and reverberated a zillion times before hitting our ears.

still, it got everyone excited and soon the He appeared on stage. god, i can't even remember what his first song was, but everyone was up and screaming. he looked really great in a white fringed jumpsuit, and i found myself constantly torn between watching the tiny real prince on stage and the giant televised prince on the screen above him. i finally decided that i felt too removed from the event if i watched the screen and i consciously tried to focus on the stage.

he was accompanied by a horn section which included maceo parker, as well candy dulfer, as a skanky female sax player formerly relegated to the world of smooth jazz. i wished i could hear more precisely what the ensemble sounded like. the only parts that really cut through the muddle were the saxophone solos. the drummer was astounding, and the female bass player was cute as she lounged on the sofa area of the stage.

we all worried a little when prince teased us with very small snippets of his old songs, mooshed into a medley. i knew this was supposed to be his last tour of the 'old stuff', but when he didn't even make it through the complete songs i started to get a little bummed. but then he did "dance music sex romance" and either my ears had finally adjusted to the sound or this song was arranged differently... but i was on my feet and dancing. i had totally forgotten about that song, and loved it.

i just found a fan review of the show, which does a better job than i do at remembering the set list. (and here's another. then there's dave menconi's review.)

the most phenomenal part of the show for me came after the costume change. prince came back on by himself, dressed in red fringed jumpsuit, and began singing solo acoustic versions of some of his otherwise-dancy songs. he started with "little red corvette" which was one of the coolest things i've ever heard in my entire life. that song as a ballad is really amazing. also acoustic were "raspberry beret", "cream" (oh my god, this was so good, too... he would stop the song to instruct the audience on how to sing along), a very short silly snippet of "jailhouse rock", and "7", one of my all-time favorites.

he was really coy and sweet during this portion of the concert. it was all a big show, of course, put on for our entertainment, but he'd take a few moments just to pick at the guitar between songs, or he'd spin around a little on his rotating chair and he just looked like a regular guy on stage for a few minutes.

of course there was the obligatory bring-cute-ladies-on-stage section of the show that i could have done without, but by the time he finally finished up his set with "kiss" and "take me with you" i really didn't care. the man can move and he's fascinating to watch.

of course there was an encore. he did 3 slower tunes ("beautiful ones", complete with sexy writhing on the floor, "nothing compares to you" and "purple rain") and they turned into anthems for the audience. everyone was singing along, so loudly at times that prince would just stop singing. (i'm sure he's tired of singing these songs anyway.) by the end of "purple rain" everyone was swaying back and forth, humming those high-pitched "ooh oohs" at the end. i kind of wanted that song to go on forever.

afterwards i felt totally dazed. it was sensory overload. i was a little in shock, too, to think that i'd been waiting 20 years (!) to see this man in concert. the only thing that could have made it better would have been a more intimate venue with better acoustics. the set list was great, though, with just enough songs that i didn't know. (there was a slow one in the second half with lyrics something like "i used to sing dirty songs, but now i ain't that guy"... it was an amazing groove. i'd like to know what that song was.)

on the way out i ran into an old acquaintence, karen. she said she had gotten stuck in the massive parking lot traffic on the way in and had missed over an hour of the show. she didn't get in until 9:30! i hate to admit it, but i went right over to lisa and told her this and we all felt smug and happy about our early arrival and tailgate party.

when we got out of the building the parking lot was jammed, of course, so we pulled out our lawn chairs and the beer and sat back for a half-hour or so while the cars cleared out. molly phoned mary, and told us she had somehow already gotten to the club where the after-party was being held. when mary got that news you could see her get excited. she wanted to pack up the beer and plow right over the line of cars to get there.

we finally arrived at the office around 12:15, i think. there was a huge line to get in, and i couldn't imagine that everyone could fit inside. i hadn't ever been to the office before, so didn't have any idea of how big it was, but there were hundreds of people waiting and it just didn't seen physically possible that we could all get in.

yet, we did. it cost $10 and a lot of patience, but we got in. there were 2 dance areas (one with fireplace and waterfall) and one loungy bar area. there were also a million men looking to hit on women. this club was a total meat market. i think we all got hit on at least once. (and jostled by countless shitfaced women.) after a while people started to pack into the smaller dance area that had a curtained-off stage. there were so many people it stopped being a dance floor and became a sardine can.

at one point all of the tv's in the club started playing a tape of the concert we'd just attended! it was the edit that had appeared on the screens over the stage. it was weird re-living a show we had just seen... but you know what? the audio was PERFECT. we got to hear the music as it sounded there on stage. and it was phenomenal. the horn section was tight, the vocals were tight... nothing muddy about it. i thought to myself that the $10 admission price to get into the club was worth this alone. of course, it would be nice to see prince up-close, too...

from where i was standing on this packed dance floor i could see people-figures behind the gauzy curtain, and every once in a while people would squeal like prince was going to come out. we stood there for almost 2 hours, though, and he never did. i don't know what he was doing... maybe he just wanted to hang out, alone, at a club after the concert. maybe he was waiting for all of us to look like we were having a good time. maybe he didn't like us. i don't know.

mary eventually went to ask a club employee if prince was ever going to perform, and the guy said, "he has been." i hadn't noticed. mary said she heard his voice from behind the curtain a couple of times, just talking or saying "hello, raleigh" or some such. but that was no performance. around 2:40am we finally left, more than a little disappointed.

still and all, it was a really fun night. i'm so glad lisa urged us to go. (i had intially balked at the $50 ticket price, but after considering how my step-mom 20 years ago forbade me to see him, it was well worth the retribution.)

i think if i could hold one lingering memory from this show in my brain forever, it would be... hm, two memories. one: the solo acoustic set... it just felt really intimate. and two: his moves... the man can still dance and wiggle like no one else.

Posted by xta at 12:17 PM | TrackBack

April 23, 2004

 the fart dance

this is the last day of rob-blogging. i thought i'd end it with a bang. today i'll tell the legendary story of the fart dance.

now, rob insists this never happened. but there are two people who insist it did, and our collective memories outweigh his one.

rob and i were both in high school. i must've been a senior and rob a sophomore. one night i had my best friend bridgette sleep over. i loved bridgette. she was a terrible influence on me.

bridgette and i decided that it would be fun to spend the night on rob's giant waterbed. rob didn't like the idea at all and vocally opposed it. of course the minute he headed out with his friends for a night on the town she and i decided we'd do it anyway.

hours later and not sleepy at all, we heard rob coming home and we quickly ran to his bedroom, jumped into the waterbed and pretended to be asleep. a minute later he came in the room, saw us in his bed, then paused for a moment before muttering, "BITCHES!!" and beginning a low, maniacal laugh.

then, as bridgette and i lay there watching him through barely-open eyelid slits, rob began hopping and dancing around the waterbed, stopping occasionally to fart in our general direction.

now, i can't be sure they were actual farts, but i was definitely hearing fart sounds. and continual maniacal laughter. he was like a little fart leprechaun or something.

when he finally left the room bridgette and i looked at each other and bust out laughing. (but quietly, so he wouldn't hear us.)

i mean, come on... how could we make up a story like that???

Posted by xta at 2:25 PM | TrackBack

April 22, 2004


last night i went digging through some of my old photo albums and found some really great pictures of rob & me. you can click on the thumbnail to see the full-size image.

this was taken when we were all still a whole family and living in arlington, texas. i have a series of photos taken on this day, but this is my favorite. we are so happy.
again, in texas. yet... there's snow! snow never happened in texas, and we were pretty psyched. as you can tell.
this is my all-time favorite photo of rob & me. lord knows what we were doing. jumping on the bed, i think. i have a cape on, which identifies me some kind of superhero. rob, with the sunglasses and smiley-face is the most hilarious thing i've ever seen. a couple years ago i made rob a t-shirt with this photo ironed-on it. he wears it a lot.
this is still in texas, though our parents have by now split up. we're on a summer visit to mom's house. (the rest of the year we lived with our dad in indiana.) mom always let us do crazy shit when we visited... we'd roller skate in the house, have water balloon fights indoors, and, as you can see, she'd also let us make tents and forts in the living room.
the 80s were not kind to either of us.
this photo was taken just last year, in new york city. i forced rob into a trip to my favorite french fry restaurant. from rob's expression, you can tell he thinks i'm crazy.

Posted by xta at 2:07 PM | TrackBack

April 21, 2004


Posted by xta at 10:52 PM | TrackBack

 the week of the brother continues...

yes, i'm blogging about rob all week long. he rocks that much.

so, he's a smart kid, my brother. he has a masters in physics. he designs circuits for computer chips. he has the patience to explain to me, a half-dozen times, just how an airplane stays in the air. in my mind he's a certified genius.

in addition to his tech savvy he's also got phenomenal interpersonal skills. he's as good with kids as he is with grown-ups. he puts everyone at ease. he a knack for sizing up a situation then melding himself into it. he can talk about anything and everyone likes him.

as kids, though, rob & i endured the sort of cold war enacted by divorced parents. later on, in my early 20s, a lot of the anger i felt about those adolescent years bubbled up. i was in therapy, trying to work out a lot of pent-up angst and emotion. i held a lot of hostility towards my father, also an engineer and a genius (with a patent to his name) but not nearly the outgoing people-person that my brother is.

during this period i wrote my dad some awful, truly awful, letters expressing my anger at his emotional distance. i thought these letters would make me feel better. they didn't. they made me feel worse. i felt like i was suffocating under the weight of my past.

rob and i talked about this stuff a lot, painful as it was. he had somehow already forgiven our dad, but i just couldn't fathom it. during one of these conversations rob said something so simple to me... it effectively changed my life. he said: "dad can't help who he is. he did the best he could, raising us. we weren't abused, and i'm sure he loved us. but when he was growing up, his parents didn't show him any love or emotion... he simply raised us as he himself was raised."

this revelation stopped me cold in my tracks. it was the first time i consciously remember putting myself into someone else's shoes... imagining my dad's life without any hugs or kisses from his parents. and as quick as that i had forgiven my father.

rob changed me at my core that day, and he probably doesn't even realize it. next month he himself is going to be a father... i know he'll be the best the world has ever seen.

Posted by xta at 1:48 PM | TrackBack

April 20, 2004

 he really is the best brother in the whole world...

wanna hear another story about my brother? a happier one?


when we were in high school rob had a paper route. i'm pretty sure he hated it. especially during those rough indiana winters. trudging through six inches of snow before the sun even rises probably wasn't his ideal method of earning a little extra spending money.

but i had a car. i'd only recently gotten my drivers license but mom went ahead and splurged (all of $100, probably) on a baby blue AMC hornet for me. i loved driving that thing. i felt like a big shot. not very many juniors had a car... especially not one with a bench seat.

rob, of course, immediately saw how my car could improve his life on those cold mornings. he asked me once to get up really early (4am, maybe?) and drive him on his paper route. because i loved him so much (and still do) i agreed.

now, really... how many 16 year old sisters would do that for their 14 year old brothers?? not many. and i'll tell you what... it was not a lot of fun, driving him around in that cold, cold car that morning. i tried to not let on how miserable i was, but i'm sure he saw it.

we were probably halfway through his route. it was pitch black outside. after delivering a newspaper he came back to the car... i could see him in the headlights, with snow up to his knees. as he got in he handed me something dark and heavy. he said, "congratulations... you have won the official wrought iron fencepost award." and he smiled this loving little smile that i don't think i'll ever forget.

it was just some piece of crap he picked up in the snow, but it made me laugh and i was glad we were out there in the dark morning together.

Posted by xta at 2:10 PM | TrackBack

April 18, 2004


you know, when you wake up in the morning you have a certain set of expectations as to what the day has in store for you... a list of things that are going to happen before you get back into bed at the end of the day. today i expected to do a little knitting, run a durham symphony concert, and maybe have a nice dinner.

what i didn't count on was hearing that my little brother had a heart attack.

it all started as pneumonia, he says, back around monday or tuesday. he watched his temperature; it peaked at 104. his wife took him to the the urgent care clinic where he got a prescription for antibiotic. he went home and laid on the couch alternately shivering and sweating for a couple of days, and just tried to rest and recover.

then on friday afternoon he says "i started having massive burning pains in my chest that would not subside, along with a dull, throbbing ache in my left forearm." terrified, they went back to the clinic. the doctor saw some questionable things on his EKG and sent him off to the emergency room. tests indicated he had had a heart attack.

but further investigation (including cardiac catheterization to look for blockages; there were none) showed, in fact, it was not so much a heart attack as pericarditis, and though he was perdiodically in extreme pain he somehow had escaped permanent heart damage. thank god.

i have to quote a little bit of his email here, because quite honestly i don't ever want to forget what he went through:

4:00 am Saturday morning now, the nurse comes in to get a couple of vials of blood, and I can't get back to sleep because I have a bit of mild pain in my chest again. 10 minutes later, it is full-blown, worst-pain-I've-ever-felt chest pains again, left arm hurting so badly that I can't even move it around. We hammer the nurse call button, she comes in and hits me up with the anti-inflammatory again, but it took an hour to take effect last time and it is much worse this time. I get a morphine shot in my IV, which has absolutely no effect. I am literally writhing on my hospital bed in pain because I can't lay still, and Lulu is at her wits' end because it is obvious that nothing is helping, and the nurse has run out of options according to the doctor's orders for my care. The nurse can't reach my cardiologist, but she gets his partner, and they OK a dose of dilaudid, which unbelievably eliminates ALL of my pain within 30 seconds, leaving me basically zombi-fied, but able to speak slowly and groggily. When the dilaudid wears off, the anti-inflammatory has taken effect, and I feel good enough to sleep.

rob finally sleeps for a couple of hours. he wakes up before midnight and watches saturday turn into sunday, which happens to be his 33rd birthday.

the good news is 1) he's alive, and 2) he's basically back to normal. thankfully pericarditis is treatable with anti-inflammatory drugs, and when he was discharged this morning they didn't even tell him to avoid exertion. he can go right back to normal life. (he needs to avoid heavy lifting for several days while the plug in his femoral artery --from his catheterization-- heals, and he needs some rest to finish recovering from the pneumonia, but other than that he's apparently in tip-top shape.)

from all accounts his pericarditis was the result of a massive viral infection that attacked the fluid around his heart. (pneumonia is a bacterial infection, so that likely wasn't the cause of it... though it could have easily reduced his ability to fight this viral infection.) in short, it was all a fluke. my brother was (and is) in very good health. this could have happened to anybody. but it happened to my brother, and i was really scared for him.

when i got to the bottom of his email and he was reassuring us he was ok, my next thought was of lulu, his pregnant wife. i can only imagine what private hell she was going through, watching rob writhe in pain like that.

thankfully, i got in touch with rob by phone last night and just hearing his voice was reassuring.

Posted by xta at 11:19 PM | TrackBack

April 17, 2004

 more tiling

on friday night i started tiling the left wall of the tub. (how's that for a rockin' social life??) saturday morning i continued and got to a stopping point equal to the back wall.

i'm bummed that i'm not going to have time to work on it at all tomorrow. the durham symphony concert is going to consume my whole day. but i'll be happy to get the paycheck in a few weeks, so i shouldn't complain.

anyway, i used the spacers a different way on this wall. when lisa & i did the first wall, we set the "+" shaped spacers at the corner of each tile. only after we were done did i look at the photo on the box of spacers... it indicated an entirely different usage (which you can see in the photo below).

to be honest, even though our method resulted in difficult extraction i think it gave us a better alignment. i had to work too hard to keep things straight today.

also difficult are what i call the "special tiles"... the 3D-looking ones. they're ever-so-slightly smaller than the regular tiles, and a couple of times i found that affecting the alignment of the tiles i placed above them.

so next weekend will be my next opportunity to work on this, and i'll be cutting the tiles to fit the right edge of this wall (where it meets the back wall). i'll also take off the wood and work on tiling down to the tub and also down to the floor. cutting the curve around the front side of the tub is going to be tricky.

i've only got one day next weekend, though, to work on this (next sunday is another durham symphony concert... in hillsborough). after that i've only got 2 weekends before ray's mom comes to visit.

in the middle of the day i actually went to get my hair re-cut. i felt weird mentioning anything to erin (my hairdresser) about it, but i thought the bottom of the cut was kind of triangular and harsh. when she saw it, she agreed. and she also wanted to add a few more highlights. all for free.

Posted by xta at 9:20 PM | TrackBack

April 16, 2004


i just discovered that the battery in my blueberry ibook is so lame that it can't even power up the computer. it used to. but now it won't. now i need to have the computer plugged in to the wall to start it up. and having to keep a laptop plugged into the wall totally defeats the purpose of having a laptop.

this is about the 38th reason for me to finally chuck this thing and get a new computer. (this ibook isn't even worth the $120+ it would cost for a new battery. the letters are all worn off the keys, my 3 gig hard drive is totally maxed out, the screen size is too small to do any design work on, the case is cracked and the modem port is totally fried. the fact that it continues to operate at all is dumbfounding.)

but i keep putting off a computer purchase, thinking there's no way i can afford one right now. but, then again, there's never going to be a time when i can afford one.

and don't assume i'm being overly pessimistic. this is simply a fact: there will never be a time when i can afford a new computer. the house has already put me $5000 further in debt (remember the new furnace?), and the expensive doctor's visit last week went on the credit card, too.

i mean, i work in public radio, for chrissakes... i'm never going to be rich. aside from that reality, times have been tough for non-profits and i haven't had a raise in 2 years.

and it's not just a new computer... someday soon i'll need to replace my old car, and lord knows how many kidneys i'll have to sell to be able to buy even a crappy used junker.

i even i work a second, part-time job to make ends meet. (though, yes, it's a non-profit, too.) that money usually goes towards fun stuff, though... shopping, concerts... that kind of thing. clearly i could be using this money more wisely. i suppose this is just what i'll have to do... next season when the gig starts up again. for the duration of the summer i'll have no supplemental income.

my savings account is practicaly depleted, too. it's scary living this way.

Posted by xta at 2:13 PM | TrackBack

April 15, 2004


i started knitting in january, and now (april!) all of the squares are done! the sewing together of the baby blanket can proceed!

Posted by xta at 11:28 PM | TrackBack


so on the way home from work last night i remembered that i'll need a zillion clothespins for the durham symphony concert this weekend. (the musicians use them to keep their music from blowing away during outdoor concerts.) i stopped at my favorite dollar store and was surprised to see a big display of clothespins right by the door. that was easy.

so i strolled around the store for a couple of minutes, looking at all the other crap. i was almost tempted by some nice wood 5x7 picture frames, then thought the best of it. i briefly considered some adequate stemware, but realized something better would come along. (i once got a dozen amazing crate & barrel wine glasses for $1 each at this place! that's why it's my favorite dollar store.)

i saw they had my favorite cookies in stock, so i grabbed a package. these are sandwich cookies (like an oreo in concept), but the cookie part is vanilla and the filling is orange/pineapple creme. i adore them.

apparently the lady running the cash register loves these cookies, too, because she couldn't stop talking about them as she was ringing me up. "ooh! these are THE BEST cookies! myrtle (she leans over to a co-worker)... have you had these cookies??!? they're soooo good!" she keeps up with this, saying 4 or 5 more times how they're the best cookies EVER, and the store did such a good job placing an order for them...

then she leans close to me, over the counter, and whispers, "one of the reasons i like them so much is they keep me regular."

Posted by xta at 10:06 AM | TrackBack

April 14, 2004

 random tidbits

i invented a new game last night. it's called "spot the midwesterner." i got 3.5 of 4 correct on my first try. (the .5 was a guy who was born in the midwest and went to college in the midwest, but who grew up on the east coast.)

i don't know what it is about midwesterners... we all look slightly different from everyone else. to me, we're easy to pick out of a crowd. i'm good at the game.

last night's nielsonism was uttered in the context of our upcoming concert at trinity park (5pm sunday... free! be there!). the orchestra has never played at this site before, and many musicians were confused as to where we'd be setting up.

"we'll be playing right in the street. you can drive your car right up to your seat if you want."
of course that's not the case. watts street will, in fact, be blocked off (which alan then explained). but it was still funny.

so because of the 2 days of rain i haven't been keeping up my walking schedule. i need to get back into that habit. i woke up this morning and it suddenly occurred to me that -oh!- i totally forgot! i should walk! clearly this isn't a part of my routine yet if i'm forgetting to do it. d'oh.

so, it's official: i am now actively avoiding all news of iraq. i used to listen to at least one newscast a day to try to stay in the loop. but this situation we're in pisses me off SO MUCH that at the end of the broadcast i have knots in my stomach. i despise what bush is doing to our world, not to mention our country. it's making me ill. especially these 9/11 hearings.

i made this no-iraq-news rule after hearing a snippet of bush's press conference last night. he said something to the effect of, "iraq isn't The War on Terror. it's just part of the War on Terror... one theater in the War on Terror." subtext: this war isn't even close to being over, sucker.

my news ban is having its biggest effect on my commute: no more NPR in my car. i am now, instead, systematically playing CDs from my collection. which is good, because they were really starting to get dusty. some sinatra yesterday, fatboy slim today. i seem to be arriving at work in a much better mood.

Posted by xta at 2:06 PM | TrackBack

April 13, 2004

 "Having stuff that can do everything is not always a good idea." 

yay! the onion av club interviews david byrne.

the quote in the title is taken from the last paragraph. the interviewer is asking about david's book envisioning emotional epistimological information, and he explains why he chose to use powerpoint to create the art in the book:

" I like the limitations and the faults and the clunkiness of the program. I love the fact that it eliminates choices of what you can do, because there's so much you can't do. And having stuff that can do everything is not always a good idea. Having unlimited choices can paralyze you creatively. So I like the fact that you can only do certain things, and some of the things it can do, it can't do that well, but it does them in its own kind of way. If you accept that, it's okay. Sometimes I can tell it to do things, and it really has a freak-out. It starts shaking, and it's great! I mean, try and do that in Flash. I showed him stuff that it was doing where the dissolves would be so imperfect that it would do this very complicated destruction of the image before the next one cleared. To do that in another program would be really, really time-consuming—to make something look this bad, but in a particular way."

Posted by xta at 10:37 PM | TrackBack

 am i over 21? how can you tell??

i've been thinking about my visit to the cat's cradle last night to see rasputina.

i enter, buy a ticket, then walk up the little hall to the guy who is checking IDs. the women in line in front of me obediently present their licenses, but i opt not to. i feel confident i look like i'm over 21.

there's this moment, though, when the guy sizes me up --it takes maybe 2 seconds-- then stamps my hand with the "over 21" stamp. it's blue and in the shape of a cat.

those 2 seconds are interesting to me. what exactly is he looking for? what reveals our age? i have a few gray hairs (fewer now, since the low-lights were put in a few days ago), and a deep furrow between my brows. and though i readily admit that i look over 21, i don't really have a fine grasp on why i say that. do i have a world-weary look that's absent in those under 21? am i dressed differently? is it something in my eyes? and really... do the doormen get training in age-guessing?

the show was good. last time i saw rasputina (1995, maybe?, in NYC) i could have sworn there were more than two corseted women playing cellos. still, they're great. the songs range from outright guitar-cello-rock (zepplin covers!) to lovingly warped ballads. and the between-song patter is cute and funny, but i can't help but wonder whether it's geniune or staged. it doesn't really matter... it's still quite entertaining.

enough so that it kept my over-21 mind off my aching lower back. mostly.

Posted by xta at 12:59 PM | TrackBack

 almost as good as 'yoga for relaxation'

dunkin's rule of entropy: the number of crises in the workplace is inversely proportional to the number of donuts in the breakroom.
Posted by xta at 11:08 AM | TrackBack

April 12, 2004

 my butt, my hair, my face... and trees

so the worst thing about tiling is how sore your butt gets, sitting on the edge of the tub. my hiney hurts. my thigh muscles do, too, from sitting-standing-leaning-climbing. the hardest part was the bottom row of tiles; the row that essentially sits on the tub. they're not actually supposed to sit on the tub (check your bathroom!), so we were constantly getting in and out of the tub, crouching down, eye-level, to see if the alignment was correct. in, sit, apply, out, crouch, reach, in again, pound, back out, crouch, check... repeat as necessary.

then an impromptu dinner party last night after we completed tiling that wall. this idea began with ray wanting to grill, as well a surplus of chicken in the fridge. clearly, rewarding lisa for all of her help this weekend was in order, and we invited mary over, too. much wine was consumed, an old x-files episode devoured, along with lots of laughing and talking about fashion. good times.

i haven't yet mentioned my hair cut. that's because it's short. perhaps too short. erin must've cut 2 or 3 inches off, and i think i like it. it's pretty dramatic, though. i also got some "low-lights" to cover some of the gray. a couple people have told me it's "cute", which isn't the most overwhelming affirmation i could hope for. several people haven't mentioned it at all, which makes me nervous. the best thing i can say for it right now is that it makes me look younger and i'm using less shampoo.

today's rain is making the pink and white dogwood blooms in my front yard seem really vibrant. ray counted the trees in our front yard: 25. isn't that crazy? 3 of them are dogwoods. the majority are pine.

a question for the ladies: what do you use to remove makeup? i'm not happy with soap alone. i think i want a product specifically designed to remove makeup, and then follow it up with soap. i've tried dove towelettes (seems too wasteful) and a couple other similar things. suggestions, please...

Posted by xta at 1:53 PM | TrackBack

April 11, 2004


the tiling went pretty well yesterday. we were learning as we went, and i was happy with the result at the end of the day. today we're going to start cutting the end pieces and finish that back wall. i'll begin conquering the other 2 walls by next weekend.

pinky and i went to see 'luminosity' at playmakers last night. it was a really, really fine production. i've seen some stinkers at playmakers, and was happy to be moved by this play. it was so well done, i actually cried... the first time i've ever done so at a play. maybe you should try to see it. i recommend it.

Posted by xta at 2:37 PM | TrackBack

April 10, 2004





Posted by xta at 6:00 PM | TrackBack

April 9, 2004

 beautiful doctor

my appointment with dr. dykes this morning was absolutely the best experience i've ever had --in my whole life-- with any doctor.

he spent a whole hour with me, the bulk of which was spent just talking. he wanted to know not only my health issues, but also the major stressors in my life, as well as background on my family and my relationships. he made some interesting analogies and connected some dots that i hadn't seen before. he has a familiar face, a soothing low voice, and the kindest eyes i think i may have ever seen. i felt like i was talking with my oldest and best friend.

after our conversation he said he wanted to run a couple of blood tests (glucose, thyroid, anemia, etc.) and that he'd call me to discuss the results. i'm not sure that's ever happened before, either.

his office is in the big old house at the corner of swift avenue and the durham freeway. the house is listed on the durham register of historic places. he said he used to live in the cottage next door and back in the 1980s would come to this big house ("monkey top", he calls it) to have meals with the 15 or so artists that used to live there. when that collective dissipated, he bought the house himself and turned it into his medical practice. he said he likes being able to work in a place that holds such fond memories for him.

and it works so well, having a medical practice in a house. it is a disarming and beautiful thing to be in an exam room with high ceilings, big curtained windows, creaky wood floors and baseboards that won't quit. this is the way dr. dykes works... everything about him and his practice is very homey and comforting.

i left a little later than i had intended, and had to call the station to tell the announcer on duty that i'd be a little late. she said she'd cover my first break... but only if i told her about five beautiful things that i saw on my commute to work.

here are the five things:

1) my doctor's face. he's not a brad pitt lookalike or anything, but the kindness in his soul is gorgeous.

2) the crazy mannequins outside the untidy museum.

3) the HUGE (huge!) yard sale i passed on the way to work. it must've been a half-acre big. very colorful!

4) the young daddy that was taking a photo of his small daughter in her easter dress. she was surrounded by a ring of tulips at the baptist seminary.

5) the construction site in wake forest where i turn off NC 98. it's actually very ugly (which is the opposite of a beautiful thing), but the tractors have turned up a huge amount of red clay... which, to me, is very beautiful. and i wouldn't have seen it if the construction wasn't there.

3 hours until my haircut...

Posted by xta at 2:49 PM | TrackBack

 things that are bugging me at this very late hour. 

i hate network solutions. they make every little thing incredibly fucking difficult. i'm trying to transfer two domain names AWAY from them, but of course they make it as hard as humanly possible. they're now actually making me fax a copy of my drivers license to prove that i am who i say i am. jezus. i think it's pretty obvious that i am who i say i am IF I CAN ALREADY LOG INTO MY ACCOUNT! argh!!!

and yes, i was on TV tonight. i looked horrible and sounded like i was raised by the waltons.

my hair is also driving me crazy. i'm counting the hours (16) until i get it cut. too long! too long!!

tom smith at crossroads ford in cary (the undisputed price leader) made me spit tacks tonight when i saw his commercial that began with a solemn, "hi folks," and continued with, "we'll be closed this weekend to honor the crucifixion and resurrection of our lord and savior, jesus christ." i saw that commercial twice in a 2 hour period, which made me want to smite him twice (if indeed i were capable of smiting... maybe i could just wreck his truck instead. i think that's probably his. he's forever talking about how many trucks are on his sales lot.).

Posted by xta at 12:38 AM | TrackBack

April 8, 2004


the AP article about the station has been published!

i might be on NBC 17's 5:30 newscast tonight!

ray's mom is coming to visit us in may!

honey graham life cereal tastes awful! don't buy it!

divaville tonight from 6-8pm!

Posted by xta at 2:25 AM | TrackBack

April 7, 2004

 stream of consciousness

first of all, a pet-peeve: i hate when people use the word "unconscious" when they really mean "subconscious." like when someone is talking about a dream they had and they say, "i guess i was unconsciously feeling stress about that issue." i think grammatically speaking 'unconsciously' is becoming more and more acceptable as a substitute for 'subconsciously', but it still irks me every time i hear it.

anyway, it was a whirlwind of activity and madness yesterday at work. a photographer from the AP was here; it's likely that a nationwide article about the station will be published in the next few weeks. the photographer took a zillion pictures, including several of me in the studio, on-air. i'm a little terrified that they'll use one of those. i'm not ready for that.

this morning i have received 4 compliments on my new lavender blouse. last night i got 2 comments on my newly-painted toes. it's funny how a little bit of color makes you instantly more noticeable. i have an incredibly loud orange geometric-patterned blouse that i've never had the nerve to wear; i wonder what kind of comments that would elicit. maybe i'll try it next week. ray thinks it looks like throw-up... but in a good way, he says.

i forgot to write down the neilsonisms last night. alan was very funny, but i had a terrible headache and just totally spaced out.

when i got home ray was watching a crazy game show on spike called "oblivious". i think it's going to be my new favorite show. oblivious (spelled with a "$" for the "s" in the logo) is kind of like candid camera in philosophy, but during the absurd set-up the host of the show surruptitiously asks the victim several questions. for each question answered correctly the victim receives $20 after it's revealed that he/she is actually on a TV show.

one of the scenarios in last night's episode was a wedding in a taco bell. (the host played the groom, and said that this taco bell was where he proposed to his fiancee, so they were getting married there as well.) the victim had been innocently eating his meal when suddenly he was asked by the host (dressed in a baby blue tuxedo and ruffles) to be the witness to this crazy wedding. the host played the role of a giddy, nervous groom and was almost spastic with energy. he'd turn to the witness (a doo-rag-wearing young african american man) and jabber away excitedly. the questions came amidst the chatter ("this is just like four weddings and a funeral! did you see that? was that hugh hefner or hugh grant in that movie?") and more often than not this particular victim didn't know the answers to the questions. (he said "hugh hefner".) still, i think he won $40.

it was pretty funny. there were also little snippets where the host would walk up to someone on the sidewalk and just blurt out a question. after they got over their surprise and answered, he'd just hand them a $20 bill (if they were right) and walk away. (holding a map and looking lost, the host asked a passerby, "i'm trying to find south dakota. is that in the northern or southern hemisphere??")

all that laughing wasn't enough to take away my headache, though. i had to take 'excedrin pm' at bedtime. i was so tired i thought i'd collapse, but i couldn't get to sleep because my head hurt so much.

and i could've used the extra sleep this morning, but i decided to go ahead and follow through with my new exercise regime. ray joined me on my walk, which was really nice. we just walked up to markham and back, about a 1/2 mile, but it's still nice to stretch our legs and listen to the birds.

ford has announced their new hybrid SUV. i'm strangely tempted. eons will pass before i can afford a new car, and it's ridiculous to even be thinking about this, but the notion of having a fuel-efficent bigger car is appealing. they say it will get 35mpg in the city... that's about what my CRX gets right now. i loathe SUVs as a general rule, and it's interesting to note how instantly more accepting i am now that they're beginning to become more efficient.

i splurged and bought a ticket to see david byrne in annapolis in may. it was expensive, but i just can't wait until september (when he'll play in durham) to see him. i also bought a ticket to see prince right here in raleigh. (my parents forbade me to see prince when i was in middle school, at a time when my room was decorated with every possible poster of him. so this'll show 'em!)

my soon-to-be new doctor sent a packet of forms to fill out before my appointment friday morning. these are not forms regarding privacy and insurance and stuff... they're forms about my nutrition, stress management and my work environment. there's also a "fantastic lifestyle assessment" to fill out, as well as a sheet with a big circle drawn on it and the following instructions:

Let this circle stand for your family as it is now. Draw in some smaller circles to represent yourself and all people important to you -- family and others. Remember, people can be inside or outside, touching or apart. They can be large or small depending on their significance and/or influence. If there are other people important enough in your life to be in the circle, put them in. Inital each circle for identification. There are no right or wrong circles.
this appointment on friday is clearly going to be interesting.

after work i'll be purchasing all of the supplies for the tub tiling project. lisa is going to help me with the installation this weekend. (even so, i actually suspect it will take several weekends to complete.) a kind neighbor lent me her tile nips and cutter, so i believe all i'll have to purchase is grout & tile. maybe spacers... but i wonder if my old pergo spacers will work for this project.

i want to get this project done soon because 1) lisa (my trusty helper on all things home-improvement) is going to be terribly preoccupied with roswell preparations soon, and 2) we'll need that extra tub when joy comes to visit in june. now it turns out that ray's mom will be visiting us in may, so it's going to be even more important for us to get this project finished soon.

yay. i feel goal-oriented again.

Posted by xta at 12:16 PM | TrackBack

April 6, 2004


and suddenly i feel better.

charo came over last night. we ordered delivery from the pizza palace and watched "road to singapore". i don't think charo was as entertained by it as i was. she kept saying bob & bing were "so gay". she made me giggle.

she also brought over a documentary made by jim & joyce called "the hot dog man". it's a 5 minute piece on that crazy, giant, flag-wrapped hot dog thing that stands on the sidewalk outside peek-a-boo on 9th street. we were laughing so hard my sides hurt. i never knew the hot dog man wears tube socks and tennis shoes.

last weekend i bought some really yummy pear butter at fowler's. it's incredibly good on toast. it was a nice treat when i finally hauled my ass out of bed this morning. it was difficult to wake up; i stayed up too late. 's ok, though... i'm feeling good.

Posted by xta at 11:12 AM | TrackBack

April 5, 2004


i'm feeling a little down. my job is getting on my nerves and i'm not eating well. as i was lying in bed last night, tears streaming down my cheeks as i read a moving story in the "readers write" section of the sun magazine, i decided i needed to make some changes.

so i set my alarm a whole hour early and walked around the neighborhood this morning. the exercise felt good, but even more importantly it made me feel more in touch with my surroundings. best of all, it somehow didn't even seem like exercise. as long as that feeling keeps up i'm going to try to do this 3 mornings a week.

i also made an appointment with a new doctor today. a friend recommended this fellow (james dykes) to me, and says dr. dykes is one of the most gentle souls on earth... that he really, truly, deeply cares about his patients. i had gotten so disappointed with my old doctor-in-a-box that i just stopped going... i haven't had a checkup in a couple of years (and that one was only minimally thorough). i feel like with my mixed bag of mild health problems (alopecia, deteriorating knee joints, dry mouth, etc.) it's time to take a more holistic approach. hopefully this new doctor will be just the thing.

so i see him friday morning. i'm also geting a haircut that day, so perhaps by the time i pick up the sun that night i'll be feeling a little more cared-for and, well... sunnier.

Posted by xta at 2:14 PM | TrackBack

April 3, 2004

 luck is the lazy man's excuse

a rough weekend. i haven't much felt like talking or blogging. sorry.

i did manage to see "monster road" at the full frame festival this weekend, and went to the big party at monkey eye studio beforehand. it was so cool to see jim & brett basking in the glow of their success. their film really is great, even though we were all a little bleary-eyed by the time it ended at 1am.

today mary and i went to fowler's open house, ate grilled burgers, enjoyed a wine tasting and had free dark chocolate with earl grey tea mixed in. (oddly yummy stuff.)

she also succumbed to my vigorous arm-twisting and accompanied me on a tile-scouting trip. both home depot & lowes gave me good ideas, and i think i may go back tomorrow or monday and purchase enough so i can start the bathroom project next weekend. this, of course, is contingent upon my committment to a design. i think i'm close.

yesterday i watched "13 conversations about one thing" and i really liked it. i feel like it's been a while since i've seen john turturro in anything i've really enjoyed, so i was relieved when this didn't suck. and jeez, i still need to watch the commentary on the "donnie darko" dvd. and i've got "the road to singapore" coming in the mail monday. i hope signing up with netflix again wasn't a bad idea. i almost feel guilty watching movies when i've got such a big to-do list.

tomorrow i'm going to try to get a pedicure. my toes are winter-ugly. i'm also going to put together my firewood rack and order a little firewood for late-night springtime bonfires. and i may finally attempt to re-grout the towel bar in the shower.

or i may just end up lazing around with my boyfriend all day, because i think we could use some relaxing time together.

Posted by xta at 10:55 PM | TrackBack

April 1, 2004

 fainting, part 2

the second time i fainted was only a few years after the first. i was in middle school. it was summertime and my brother and i were swimming at the community pool.

it must have been an olympic summer, because i was pretending to be an olympic swimmer. it was crowded in the pool and there wasn't very much room, but i had enough space to swim 20 feet or so and try that really cool end-of-the-lane underwater flip that the swimmers do to reverse direction.

the problem was that i had no idea how to do that flip. i misjudged my distance and jammed one of my fingers against the wall of the pool. and i jammed that finger hard. it hurt like holy jeebus.

my step-mom (witness to the first fainting) took me to see our doctor the next day. as i sat there on the exam table, finger throbbing, waiting for the doctor to come into the room, i started obsessing about all the painful things he was likely going to do to fix my finger. i got nauseous and very, very anxious.

and once again i became woozy and the world went dark. just as the doctor entered the room i fainted and fell right off the exam table.

the doctor woke me up with smelling salts. good GOD, that stuff is terrible! i remember pushing his hand away, and he kept trying to shove it closer to my nose. i wanted to kill him. get that foul-smelling shit away from me!

after i composed myself and got back up on the exam table, all he did was tug gently on my finger and then put it in a splint. it was pretty anti-climatic.

Posted by xta at 12:28 PM | TrackBack