November 30, 2004

 a vacation in my car

you're right. the vacation was worth it.

because looking back, i can see that it made me feel like an organic human being, occupied solely with living. my life wasn't dictated by calendars, schedules and clocks. i slept when i wanted, ate when i wanted, showered when i wanted. my only concerns were 1) staying alive, and 2) staying happy.

it is helpful to remember what that feels like from time to time.

the thing that is currently helping me simulate my vacation --now that real life has settled back in-- is my new ipod. i listened to it a lot at the beach. but i'm also finding that driving to and from work is now damn-near fun.

for years i've struggled with novel ways to occupy those 40 minutes in the car, twice a day. my tape player is busted. my portable CD player is finicky. the commute takes me out of range of the two college stations i listen to, and oftentimes i just don't feel like listening to news or classical music on the radio. commercial stations aren't even on my radar... it stresses me out to hear 7 consecutive minutes of car commercials. i don't need that. so i have often travelled the whole way in silence rather than deal with any of it.

and i find silence, oddly enough, weirdly stressful.

so, ipod to the rescue! i feel stupid for waiting so long to buy one, because it has now made my time in the car downright pleasant. (well, there are still wildcards like asshole drivers on the road, but at least what's happening inside my car is nice and controllable.)

however, i'm still trying to figure out the best way to use the ipod to achieve ultimate relaxation. i've decided that i don't like listening by "album", as my commute is generally longer than one album's-worth of songs (which then forces me to deal with the click-wheel at 65mph). i think my preference is to set the sucker on "shuffle". somehow the machine picks a perfectly symbiotic string of songs. tonight i heard a nice mix of the future bible heroes, luna, mel torme, edith frost, frank sinatra, and the magnetic fields. yay.

when i bought the ipod, though, it was a big financial trade-off... i knew i would have to make some sacrifices in order to afford it. so i told myself that i could not allow myself to buy any new clothes for three whole months. not even shoes.

i've never smoked, but i imagine this is a lot like nicotine withdrawl. the pleasure of the ipod barely offsets the pang of "want" i get when i open the mailbox and see a coupon from lane bryant.

i think i'm going to have to load some zen raindrop stuff onto the ipod to keep me calm about this.

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November 29, 2004

 that was quick

i wasn't even at work for five minutes this morning before my shoulders became tense and i wanted a massage. and a shot of tequila.

it sounds terrible to say, but i feel like the money we spent on our beach vacation was wasted. i'm as stressed out now as i was last week.

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November 28, 2004

 what i did on my vacation

beach_sunset.JPGwhat the hell happened while we were away? when we came home this morning we saw a zillion downed branches in the yard. our firewood rack was on its side, and the plastic lawn chairs were all askew. perhaps it stormed as hard here last night as it did at the beach?

it rained twice while we were vacationing... the night we got to the beach house, and the night before we left. the rest of the time the sun was shining with hardly a cloud in the sky. pretty damn close to perfect. i spent most every afternoon on the back porch, watching the waves and reading trashy magazines.

but wednesday night --our first night-- had us indoors and away from the spitting rain and howling winds. (the sound of the wind whipping around the house actually woke me up in the middle of the night. the noise was tremendous.) by thursday morning the rain had stopped, but the wind was still gusting incredibly hard. i stood outside on the porch and my far-too-big pajamas were on the verge of acting like a parachute and lifting me into the air.

i had ordered all of our groceries --including everything for our thanksgiving dinner-- ahead of time from "lowes foods to go" (which, i might add, totally rocked my world... you order your groceries online, then just show up in the store parking lot, press a button, and they bring everything to your car. shazzam!! i didn't have to step foot in a grocery store at all!) so all we had to do for the big meal was warm it up. we ate turkey and taters (and stuffing and asparagus and carrots and cranberries) with our porch door wide open, watching the waves on the ocean. the wind had died down by then, and the sun on the water was beautiful.

by friday we were getting a little stir crazy. (my feet hadn't even touched the ground at all on thursday; i stayed in the house-on-stilts or on the porch all day.) so friday night we decided to go out to dinner, and settled on a place called bogey's. we were surprised and delighted with how good the food was (we split a filet mignon and blackened grouper). we were kinda thinking of seeing a movie afterward, but decided to bag it in favor or more zoning out at the house.

saturday was another beautiful day. we noticed a lot more people on the beach than last year. we watched them feed gulls, play with puppies and entertain children. we almost didn't leave the house again, but we decided --what the heck-- vacations are all about eating out, right? so we went to a little mexican joint and stuffed our faces full of margaritas and chips.

the rain picked up again saturday night, and it stormed so hard that the house sprung a leak. we had to set a couple of pots on the floor to catch the drips. we started cleaning up the house, too, as we knew we would be leaving butt-early in the morning so i could get back to durham in time for the symphony's christmas pops concert.

nothing remarkable happened the whole time we were there. we slept a lot, ate a lot, vegged out in front of the tv, watched the sun set over the water, and watched the waves from our bedroom. i stuck my feet in the ocean once (brrr!) and went for one walk on the beach. otherwise i pretty much sat on my ass all weekend... and it was fucking fantastic.

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November 23, 2004

 happy thanksgiving!

i am so stressed out. i am in desperate need of a vacation.

oh, wait... whaddya know... i happen to be going on vacation tomorrow! excellent timing.

ray & i are heading to the beach first thing wednesday morning, and we won't be coming back --or even thinking about coming back-- until sunday. we've got a nice oceanfront house reserved, some instant stuffing mix packed up (along with, like, clothes and stuff) and some big, fluffy pillows.

oh god, the pillows. i'm SO looking forward to sleeping. and knitting, porch-sitting, eating, sleeping, listening to my new ipod, sleeping and eating.

aside from the ipod, i'm going to be computer-free this weekend... so don't do anything exciting while i'm away. i don't want to miss anything.

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November 22, 2004

 work & play

can i tell you how hard i've been working?

i've been working really hard.

i worked from home most all of last week, and got an astounding amount of stuff done. i worked a lot this weekend, too... and some nights until 1am.

i did take a break saturday night. ray and i went to the pizza palace for dinner (always yum) and then saw "the incredibles". but when we got back home i worked some more.

last night i took a big honkin' break and went to see luna at the cat's cradle. i didn't know until i got there that this is their final tour. ever. after the show (which was very nice, as always) we ambushed every member of the band and told them that breaking up was a bad idea.

we stood way up front during the show, and a pack of rabid frat boys were on our immediate left. they were so into the show... at the start of every song they threw their heads back and let out a joyful holler. they played air guitar, they sang along, and they beers thrust in the air in a salute of solidarity with the band. i giggled every time i looked at them. it appeared as if this show may have been the greatest moment in their lives.

it's sad to think that luna won't be coming through town again. (mary is particularly sad, because she secretly longed to have the lead singer's babies.)

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November 19, 2004

 hair cut

i got my hair cut this morning.

this normally wouldn't be a big deal, but i haven't had my hair done since the big event two months ago.

i was torn... do i return to my wonderful hairdresser here in durham, or do i go to the salon in chapel hill where the stylists all watched 'the antonio' at work during the makeover? i really liked what the antonio did to my hair, so i felt like i'd be taking a bit of a risk if i went back to my regular hairdresser; she didn't witness the event.

what to do, what to do...

i finally made my decision based wholly on convenience. i went to my regular salon in downtown durham.

i told erin everything the antonio had done to my hair, and she listened and swore to follow the cut as best she could. but first we had to tackle my hair color... i told her the code (6W) for the dark color they used at the makeover.

she mixed up the color in her back room and when she came back she said, "and i added a squirt of plum to deepen the color."

of course, the first thing she said 20 minutes later as she rinsed my hair was, "ooh, goodness. that plum really jumps out."


to her credit, though, the cut seems to be in line with what the antonio did. the color i'm still getting used to, though.

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November 17, 2004

 it finally happened

last night, after watching him perform on the late show, i finally decided that i like morrisey.

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November 16, 2004


i've been working from home the last couple of days. i'm engaged in a big honkin' web project that demands long periods of concentration. being at the station does not afford me this luxury, so i'm home instead.

it's been weird. i'm a little lonely. (the cats just sleep all day.) i thought i'd be distracted by all my things here, but actually i'm amazed at how productive i've been. i do slack off from time to time, but really only when i need a break. (i've been working at the dining room table & these chairs are pretty uncomfortable.)

during one of those breaks (when my computer was busy FTPing about 300MB of crap) i finished my knitting project. it started out being a scarf, but ended up as something altogther different. i wish i could post a photo, but the recipient of this gift-to-be reads this blog and i don't want to spoil the surprise.

throughout the day i've also heard some scratching coming from the utility closet. i think there's another mouse in there. if i'm correct, this means they're coming in from the attic which is a truly horrific thought. i don't like the idea of mice falling from the ceiling. i'll wait until ray gets home to decide what to do.

during my lunch break (a homemade turkey, cheese & pesto quesadilla) i finally did something i'd been wanting to do for a long time: i bought an ipod. i feel a little queasy at the expense, but i'm really looking forward to using it during my vacation at the beach next week.

oh, did i mention i'm going to the beach next week? ray & i started this tradition last year. oceanfront homes are damn cheap at thanksgiving, and i love the peacefulness of the beach this time of year. we're going to oak island again, to a house called "serendipity."

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 wild kingdom

as the weather turns cold, it's time to pull out the sweaters, the jackets... and the mousetraps. little mice are once again apparently seeking out the warmth of my kick-ass furnace.

this evening i noticed mimo standing casually in the hall with a little gray mouse dangling out of his mouth. i had to look closely to make sure it was real because he likes his fake furry mice so much. but as soon as i said, "mimo, is that real?" he dropped it and it soon became apparent that, yes, in fact, it was real.

i, of course, shrieked and the mouse ran into my bedroom. (worst. nightmare. EVER.) i felt that the only recourse i had was to throw the two cats in after it and lock the door behind them. i was sure their natural instincts would take over and i could walk into a rodent-free bedroom in no time.


it is quite clear to me now that our cats have lost all their predatory instincts, because a half-hour later they were still just playing with the mouse. they could have happily stayed locked in the room for hours, just chasing and batting the mouse back and forth between them.

it was ray who finally caught the mouse and removed him from the premesis.

between this and the frog it's starting to feel like the damn animal channel around here.

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November 14, 2004

 art walk

i went to durham's art walk today.

this event is always entertaining, but always a crap-shoot. i generally go with an eye for art that i want to buy (but always with an empty pocketbook, thus defeating my purpose). actually, the last few times i've gone, i've won art, which is the best situation imaginable.

i did find a couple of artists whose work i'd be interested in purchasing, but their names both escape me now because i'm drunk. one was showing her work --comically tragic caricatures of a sad and angry young girl painted against happpy yellow backgrounds-- at ringside (she also has paintings of naked people at bakus right now); the other was a photographer who made absolutely stunning close-up fuzzy images of orchids, and her work is currently hanging in the gallery at the arts council. alas, both artists' works were well beyond my budgetary constraints. sigh.

the most difficult thing about the art walk, actually, is speaking with the artists. you walk into a studio to check out his/her art, and that very person is sitting there, watching you look at it. if you hate the art, what do you say? you can't say anything... so i've perfected the technique of avoiding eye contact.

only once did i have an extended conversation with one of the artists, and she runs more of a classroom than a studio. the place is called sew crafty (ugh) and she holds beading, sewing and craft classes and seems to produce some really cool stuff.

in fact, i'm thinking of organizing a crafty party there. for, like, $15 each she can teach people how to sew, or make beaded necklaces, or whatever. i think it could be a fun way to gather friends for a gift-making session. the lady was pretty cool. i think.

anyway. i'm home now and i had too much wine with dinner (which was pasta & vodka sauce) so i should probably shut up.

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November 13, 2004



i came home last night, put my key in the back door lock and SCREAMED as i saw something move. it was a little frog, some 4 feet off the ground, slowly climbing up the glass.

i was startled and not entirely sure what to do. i figured if i opened the door, the frog would jump off the glass, onto the carpet in the den and the cats would hunt down a nice, messy snack. not thrilled by the thought of cleaning up frog guts, i just stood there for a moment, composing myself and thinking.

i knew i didn't want to touch it. (i mean, duh.) so i took a step back to avoid any potential contact, then reached forward and clicked my house key on the glass to see if he'd jump off. he didn't move at all, much to my surprise. so i took a chance... i stepped forward again, slowly opened the door, then gently shut it behind me and grabbed the camera. the frog stayed put the whole time.

as i was taking (bad) photos, the cats noticed the frog and started throwing themselves at the door. sherpa is a phenomenal jumper and her paw got high enough to touch the frog (were he not on the opposite side of the glass). still, the frog wasn't fazed. he kept slowly climbing up the glass.

i watched the cats drive themselves crazy for a while, and then i got bored with the whole thing and walked away. when i came back into the room a half hour later the frog was gone.

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November 12, 2004

 one finger victory salute

this pretty much speaks for itself:


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the pr blitz surrounding last night's episode of "ER" was pretty overwhelming. if you didn't witness any of the commercials ("ray liotta in an episode you won't forget!") you must be living under a rock. or in i-raq. or maybe, like a sane person, you just don't watch NBC.

having seen the promo for this episode a thousand bajillion times this week (and i only watch one show on NBC), i just assumed that the NBC guerilla marketers were at it again: it seems like every week's episode gets some sort of heavy-handed promotion. "just when you thought "ER" couldn't get any better...!" or "an episode full of tiny miracles!" or something like that. we're lead to believe that each week's episode is the best. episode. ever. it's routine.

so, anyway, i tuned in last night (as i do every thursday night, fool that i am) expecting another typical "ER" full of doctors disobeying hospital rules (gasp!) or children getting thrust into foster care due to some suspicious bruising... and ray liotta doing something fairly creepy.

well, i'm almost ashamed to admit this, but i watched ray liotta's performance last night and i cried. enough so that my eyes were still puffy this morning. and i feel like a complete sucker.

because i think that it was, in fact, the pr blitz that insidiously caused me to believe that this episode was greater than it was. thinking back, the writing was really quite contrived (how unusual for "ER"!) and the "real time" device was more than a little awkward. ray liotta's character (a dying drunk) manages to touch even the most hardened of doctors, causing him to shed a tear! it was sooo incredibly sappy, yet i succumbed.

perhaps i should only watch reality tv from here on out. (lord knows there's no promotional manipulation going on there...)

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November 11, 2004

 i heart mr. chunk

have i told you about my new boyfriend? his name is oatmeal cookie chunk. he's incredibly rich! a little lumpy, perhaps, but very comfortable and cozy.

we've been flirting with each other for several months, but i think i'm ready to take it to the next step. maybe move in together permanently.

because i'm tired of just meeting up with him occasionally in the grocery store. (plus, i sometimes have to spend a long time looking for him there!) i can always count on finding him at the ben & jerry's store, though. he likes hanging out with his friends.

in fact, i saw him there last week. then i took him home and had my way with him.

but something was wrong this time. i could tell he had been carousing with other flavors. i could taste mint on him!! i felt betrayed!

even though i was hurt and a little confused, i'll still forgive him. i love him that much. we'll work it out.

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November 9, 2004

 if those friends could see me now...

so, i was planning to post about the myriad of bad fashion choices i have made over the years. a friend and i were talking recently about the horrific sense of style we had when we were in middle school. she said:

"Did you have a monogrammed sweater? I had just one. It was kelly green with blue letters. And wool. I loved to carry my matching navy purse with the green trim."

yes, i think i had a monogrammed sweater. but my worst fashion faux pas (worse than candy-stripe-looking puffy sleeves or frizzy, terrible hair) was this:

i used to wear high-necked, ruffly blouses. and i'd tie a matching thin ribbon in a prim little bow just below the top ruffle around my throat. it was very caroline ingalls. i'm trying to think when that was... i hope it was middle school and not high school.

anyway, as i said, this was going to be a post about stupid adolescent 1980s clothing choices, but as i was rummaging through some old photos looking for incriminating evidence of past fashion crimes i came across my old middle school yearbooks... and now this is what i'm posting about:


i look at that and find myself more than a little stunned that this is how one of my good friends thought of me. a good speller. what about my outgoing sense of humor? my burgeoning musical talent? my ruffle blouses, for godsakes??

if i didn't have such good manners, i think i would have confronted her about her choice of words.

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November 8, 2004

 social insecurity

i've just spent the last hour analyzing my retirement account and now my head is swimming.

i wish i had a financial counselor to help me wade through the confusing world of stocks, bonds, funds and indexes. as it is, i just glance at the charts on the vanguard website (anything longer than a glance makes my eyes cross), then i take their little questionnaires and do some best-guessing on which investments are most likely to provide me with a posh retirement.

the quiz i took tonight suggested i place 50% of my investment in stock funds and 50% in bond funds. i have no idea if that's really a good idea or not. i just took their word for it.

it's kind of scary, actually, thinking that my luck (this optimistic stab in the dark) could enable me to enjoy my retirement by travelling the world while sipping fruity umbrella drinks, or my ignorance (a pessimistic stab in the dark) will be causing me to live in rat-infested windowless squalor, eating tepid ramen noodles until i die of a sodium overdose.

taking vanguard's 50/50 advice, i moved some of my investments around online (like i know what i'm doing) and invested in a new stock fund. i picked the one that had a higher long-term rate of return than all the others. of course... i mean, who on earth would choose one with a lower yield? maybe i'm missing something.

i feel lost.

money has always made me feel dumb, small and scared.

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November 4, 2004

 let me know how you really feel, sister...

it occurred to me today that i don't have a nice black blouse to wear for the durham symphony concert on sunday. musicians dress in black, you see. i am a musician. (i have to say it out loud to actually believe it.)

i have black pants, a black skirt... nice black stuff to go on the bottom half of me. but the only solid black top i have is a faded black knit shirt. not so classy.

so tonight after divaville i ran by the mall. i quickly found a blouse that would work, and headed to the register. the young african-american woman who rang me up was gorgeous, friendly and outgoing, but she knocked over a pile of hangers as she was bagging my purchase and you could tell she just wanted to curse.

"it's been one of those days," she said, sort of grinning. then her smile faded a little and she said, "actually, it's been a bad week..."

i somehow knew she was talking about the election.

so i egged her on. "yeah, i think it's been a bad week for everyone, given what happened on tuesday."

she stopped and smiled at me in a way that said i don't really mean what i'm about to say, then she just let it fly: "i know! i'm totally going to have to kill me some redneck hillbillies! damn!"

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November 3, 2004

 look! over there!

let's talk about toccara, or art, or oprah or something. anything. distract me. i can't stop reading the political blogs. i can't stop reading your blogs and your thoughts on the terrible predicament we're in for the next four years. it's like an accident on the side of the road... it's horrifying, but i can't stop looking. i need to have something shiny dangled in front of my eyes.

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November 2, 2004

 election day stress


like a lot of people, i have been feeling very anxious lately... trouble sleeping, and difficulty concentrating on anything other than politics.

surprisingly, this church sign helped my stress level and gave me a good laugh.

i voted quickly at my precint this morning at 10:30. though all of the voting booths inside were full when i arrived, there was no line out the door.

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November 1, 2004

 this is why i'm a cat person


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