October 31, 2005


the creation:
forehead dilemma:
"the grim fiddler":
the shulls:

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October 30, 2005

 wanna be my neighbor?

the house next to mine is for sale

it's a really cool neighborhood. the world's best park is just a couple of blocks away, and several local rock stars live on the street. we can be pals and borrow cups of sugar from each other. oh, and don't forget we've got that swank backyard pool in the summer.

i promise to get rid of the stinky grass by the time you move in.

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 happy anniversary, baby...


ray and i met six years ago today.

we were at a halloween party. i was dressed as a highway, he had his face painted like a skull.

he approached me in the kitchen and started a conversation. later, after a few weeks of dating, he told me i had been twirling my hair that night, flirting. i don't remember that. must've been a subconscious behavior.

as we talked he said the face paint was affecting his "delicate wink areas". i thought that was cute.

at one point he disappeared into the bathroom and came back with exactly half of his face paint washed off. i figured he wanted me to get an idea of what his face looked like, and to prove that he wasn't, in fact, a skeleton. i had an idea he was interested in me.

the party started dying down. mary and i decided to leave, to head out to another halloween party. ray had disappeared again, though, so we ended up leaving without saying goodbye to him. later i learned that he had gone back into the bathroom to wash off the rest of the skull-face. he says he was sad when he emerged and i was gone.

but because we both knew the party hostess we were easily able to get in touch with each other. we had our first date about a week later. and the rest, as they say, is history.

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October 29, 2005


i found myself feeling slightly uneasy at the gas pump this morning. not because of the prices (it was actually only $2.39/gal) but because of the car next to me.

it a drab olive-colored jeep. the spare tire on the back was covered with camouflage fabric and the license plate spelled "COMBAT!"

with an exclamation point.

the driver was also dressed in camouflage from head to toe.


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October 28, 2005

 my back yard smells like poo


we have finally drained the pool completely. when we lifted it off the ground, this is what we found.

there was some mud around the perimeter, but in the middle was a circle of white grass.

and a hellacious smell. our back yard smells like manure.

to be honest, i caught of whiff of this odor this summer, while the pool was up. but now that the ground is free of obstruction we find ourselves in the presence of a full-on powerful, noxious stench.

i have no idea whether the white grass is at fault. maybe it's the mud that is stinky. perhaps something else is terribly, terribly wrong, something going on underground that i don't want to know about.

whatever it is, though, i hope it stops soon. god, it smells awful.

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October 25, 2005

 my trip to the e.r.

Originally uploaded by xta's phonecam.

yesterday i woke up with a pain in my stomach. it was a sharp, stabbing pain; something akin, i guessed, to heartburn. how does a person get heartburn first thing in the morning, though? weird.

i got ready for work, and as i drove along my 25 mile commute i was cognizant of the pain the whole way. it was very present; i couldn't forget about it. i wracked my brain... did i eat anything weird last night? no. drink anything odd? no. just diet food. nothing unusual.

i recalled the baked chicken i ate for lunch on friday (3 days prior!) and how i felt like i'd accidentally swallowed a little tiny piece of bone. could that be the problem? if so, how on earth did a chicken bone hang around in my stomach for three days? nah, that couldn't possibly be it.

by noon the pain had travelled lower and to my left abdomen. it was still sharp, to the point where i would gasp out loud from time to time when it would flare up. i drank lots of water and tried eating some food (thinking that would help "push" along whatever possible obstruction i might have), but nothing worked. by 5pm the pain was all i could think about. i left work at 6pm (bailing out on a pledge drive is one of the most awful feelings in the world) and quickly drove home. twice i thought i might have to pull over to the side of the road. when i finally pulled into the driveway i knew i was probably going to be heading to the hospital soon.

as much as i hate hospitals, it didn't take much convincining from ray to get me back in the car. if it was a chicken bone causing these problems, i was at risk of puncturing an intestine. not good. we checked into the duke hospital emergency room about 7:30pm.

the waiting room was filled with all kinds of people in varying stages of pain. a pretty, bookish young black woman sat between her husband and mom, quietly crying and clutching her stomach as she rocked back and forth in her chair. a 30-something white man laid on the cold tile floor in a fetal position, a bucket next to his mouth catching periodic spats of vomit. the tv was tuned to "wife swap." a woman with gorgeous long braids slept beneath her coat.

the triage nurse seemed concerned for my case; she kept saying that i was sitting like a woman in labor. that was the only position that was comfortable: as flat as possible. she took some blood (leaving an IV access in my arm "in case they want more blood or need to inject you with dye for a CT scan.") asked for a urine sample, and took my temperature and blood pressure (100 over 61). she seemed worried enough that she marked my chart as a higher priority and said that i should be called into the ER soon. of course "soon" is completely relative in ER-terms. it was about 9pm when i was finally given a bed and told to put on a gown.

ray wanted to accompany me everywhere, but he wasn't allowed into the x-ray room. i was positioned for two standing x-rays (ow ow ow! standing is bad!) and two x-rays lying down. as i rested on the x-ray table i could actually feel some of the pain subsiding. the technician apologized for taking so long, but i told her that i was more comfortable than i had been all day. she finally came back to sit me up and get me off the table, and as soon as my feet hit the floor i was doubled over again.

back in my ER room another hour went by. ray pulled out my ipod and played "breakout". i tried to read a magazine. the elderly woman in the curtain next to mine was being admitted for multiple myaloma. i could hear an ornery old man across the room being diagnosed with pneumonia and a blood sugar count of 500. ray went to the cafeteria and got some sushi. i started farting. oh my god, the farting felt good. i tried to fart as much as possible.

i think it was around 11pm that the resident came by to tell me they didn't see anything on the x-rays. i told her again about the chicken bone, but she insisted they didn't see anything like that on the film. of course this confused me. how could i have been feeling such sharp, intense pain without having something show up on x-ray?

the pain had been subsiding as the hours passed. perhaps the farting helped. i did have to pee; i asked ray to show me where the bathroom was. maybe i could poop, too.

no luck there, but the walking to and from the bathroom was virtually pain-free. when the doctor came to check on me a little after midnight i told him that i was feeling much better. he confirmed that the x-rays were negative, and if i wasn't in pain anymore i could go home. "i feel so silly," i told him. "nonsense," he said. "if you were in pain, then you did the right thing by coming here."

the discharge nurse arrived almost an hour later and had to wake me up to take the IV out of my arm and read the exit papers to me. i got dressed and ray drove me home. i was in bed by 1:45am.

today i'm feeling none of the sharp pain i felt yesterday, though i swear my gut is talking to me today. it's making all kinds of noises. i refuse to admit that i checked into the ER because of gas, but at this point i have little else to fall back on.

whatever happened to the chicken bone remains a mystery.

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October 23, 2005


today has been the most wonderful day.

first, i must explain that i'm in the midst of pledge drive hell at work, so it really doesn't take much, in comparison, for a day to be deemed "wonderful."

* i woke early and made myself a delicious breakfast of pancakes and bacon. (the pancakes were topped with a homemade creation of nuked frozen cherries and sugar-free vanilla coffee syrup; the bacon was turkey.)
* together ray and i watched our two favorite VH1 reality shows.
* we went grocery shopping at a whole new store. (which, i must say, was surprisingly exciting... figuring out where this kroger kept all their stuff, and commenting on how backwards the store's layout seemed. a perfect illustration of how relative the term "wonderful" is.)
* i tried a new south beach meal for lunch that was pretty tasty
* i then went to the mall where i bought a few new tops. (note to self: at hechts i seem to be a size medium; at old navy, an extra-large. go figure.)

and now i'm back home, thinking i might spend the rest of the evening with one of those little red envelopes that have been sitting on my coffee table.

i'm trying not to let myself think ahead to the upcoming week. it's going to be a long and exhausting one. (with little time to blog, i predict.)

i'm glad this was a good day; it is my last day off for a week. but if i force myself to look on the bright side... i do have halloween night off for the first time in about 5 years.

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October 21, 2005

 the durham symphony turns thirty

this is a great article about one of this town's most under-appreciated performing arts ensembles.

we turned thirty this year, people... come see a concert. come see me in the horn section, if that's what it takes. :-)

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 natural woman

perhaps you recall that ray had a vasectomy a few months ago. since then he's passed his two sperm tests with flying colors, which means i'm in the clear to get my IUD out. and i did that this morning.

in terms of effectiveness i actually loved the IUD. no hormones screwing with my body (have i ever told you the story of the time i got a depo-provera shot and then had a three-month-long period?) and the IUD meant no fussing around with barrier methods. getting the IUD installed wasn't a whole lot of fun, but in the 4+ years since it has been wonderful not having to think about birth control.

well, let me rephrase that. i did actually think about it quite a bit, but not in the way you might assume. i thought about the IUD every 21 days, as it caused my cycle to be shortened and intensified. i won't hesitate to tell you that my periods were far more heavy and quite a bit more painful with the IUD than without.

(apologies to any gentleman readers who find themselves suddenly in very uncomfortable territory. this post probably should have come with a "TMI" warning.)

additionally, i've had chronic cervical dysplasia for years, and my warm and loving gynecologist has told me that ditching the IUD might help return my cells to normal.

so, between the extreme monthly messiness and the notion that the IUD might be hindering my recovery from dysplasia, it's good to have the sucker out.

and because ray has been snipped, being without an IUD means that i am completely birth-control-free for the first time in probably 20 years. i find that astounding. and a bit disorienting.

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October 19, 2005

 i love my neighborhood

a month or so ago, in a last-ditch traffic-calming effort, the city installed a traffic circle at the intersection of markham and glendale.

there's been some debate amongst my neighbors as to whether the circle is actually big enough to slow down traffic. the intersection isn't large; the circle isn't large. we still see some people flying through the area, without slowing down to check for oncoming traffic. some people think the intersection may even be more dangerous with the addition of the traffic circle, given how we idiot north carolinians are seemingly ignorant about how traffic circles work.

well, a couple of our neighborhood's most creative members recently "decorated" the traffic circle. i suspect that this is going to really help slow down traffic around the circle:


i especially love how it looks from a slight distance.

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 "we're going to have to start hating you"

that's a quote from my boss as she stood, shaking her head, admiring my weight loss.

as of this morning i've lost 41 pounds and have finally surpassed a HUGE personal milestone. i haven't been under 200 pounds in probably 15 or 20 years.

which is funny... when i mention this fact my friends consistently say, "you've never looked like you were over 200 pounds!" of course i disagree. when i started i thought i looked like the stay-puft marshmallow man.

but more to the point i think i must have lead in my bones. my bones are huge, too; i can't even encircle my wrist with a thumb and forefinger. i suspect that large percentage of my total weight is bone, and maybe that's why people are surprised that i weigh as much as i do. (i could be totally blowing that out my ass, but it makes me feel better.)

anyway, it guess at this point i should start focusing on things other than pure numbers. if i don't look as heavy as the numbers say, then what does the number matter at all? so right now i'm judging my weight loss most significantly by other, more tangible things: i'm using the last hole on my belt, my bras are all too big, i'm consistently fitting into size 14 pants, and i'm finally able to wear skirty underwear.

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October 18, 2005

 pork posole

in her newfound excitement over kale, lisa asked for my posole recipe.


2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced (more to taste)
7 cups chicken stock
2 1/2 cups canned hominy, drained
4 cups kale, chopped
4 cups pork shoulder, cubed, braised (or a good roast with a little fat on it)
4 cups tomatillos, blanched (blanched for this recipe is merely boiling the tomatillos 10-15 minutes.)
4 poblano chiles (or long green chiles), roasted, peeled
garnish - lime wedges, chopped red onion, cilantro, grated queso fresco (or medium cheddar)

1. in a large saucepan (or soup pot), heat oil and sautee pork until brown. add onions and sautee until translucent. add garlic and sautee an additional 2-3 minutes.

2. add stock, hominy and kale. reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes to an hour (longer for more tender pork.)

3. puree tomatillos and chiles in a blender. add mixture to stock and bring to a boil. reduce heat and continue to simmer until ready to serve.

4. season to taste. garnish with cheese, onions, lime wedges and lots of cilantro.

yield: 8 servings

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 end of summer


pinky posted her 'summer's over' photo so i thought i whould post mine: draining the pool.

when ray and i first set about this task a few days ago the water temperature was 66 degrees. i've been in the pool when the water temp has been 76 degrees, and THAT is far too cold, so i have no qualms about saying adios, chilly liquid!

the trick, of course, was trying to figure out what to do with the 4,000 gallons of chilly liquid. a hose wouldn't securely attach to the drain plug (drat!) so after much consideration we decided to siphon.

well, ray decided to siphon. being a girl, i can still manage to get myself out of icky jobs now and then.

after some experimentation we decided that attaching the siphon hose to a sprinkler would do a decent job of disseminating the water in the least destructive way. (i had nightmares of letting the water just run out of the hose in one spot, creating a giant sinkhole in my back yard.)

we've been at this for a couple of days and so far so good. we move the sprinklers around every few hours (brr!) and i don't think we're doing any major harm to the property. yet. but we're not even a third of the way done.

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 best. spam. ever.

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October 17, 2005

 perhaps i've worked here long enough

hi. this is bob in greensboro.

hi, bob.

listen, you ladies on that station have the sexiest voices i've ever heard on the radio. you and tina...

why thank you, that's sweet of you to say.

listen, are you married?


[long pause, hoping he'll get the clue that i don't want to answer that question; he's already creeping me out.]

uh... i'm in a committed relationship.

well, listen... do you want to go out for lunch sometime?

uh... well, i think my boyfriend would have a fit.

well, don't tell him!! just go out with me and don't tell him!


listen, do you want to go out with me or not?

i thank you for the invitation, but no.

but tina is going out to lunch with me...! listen, is she pretty? what color hair does she have?

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 enough is enough

the weekends are never long enough.

the time i get to spend asleep is never long enough.

episodes of "the staircase" didn't seem long enough.

my patience these days is definitely not long enough.

there are many instances in which i feel my honda crx isn't long enough.

and today i believe i have worked long enough.

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October 14, 2005


one of the reasons i've been feeling so draggy lately is because i'm losing one of my best friends.

annie and i have been close for about 7 years. we've carpooled together, cried together, and have bitched and moaned about everything from politics to coffee. we've giggled over lists of celebrity boyfriends and have chowed down on many indian dinners. we've been through a lot together... more than i can detail here.

she's moving back home to wisconsin. today is her last day here at work.

i am very sad.

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October 13, 2005

 the dialogue is even funnier when you know that christy is a transsexual mechanic

me, after my trusted mechanic has worked on my car for the last time: "i'm not sure where i'm going to take my car now that you're moving away. i guess i can continue taking it to your old shop if you can tell me there's another mechanic there who will treat me as well as you did."

bradley, the mechanic: "nah... but christy has a new pair of fake boobs... you might want to take your car back there anyway to check those out."

all names have been changed to protect the innocent. and the newly buxom.

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October 12, 2005


roxi_moo.jpgthis is my biggest smile-inducer these days. (2.2 MB .mpg video)

last week i sent my niece, roxi, a surprise box of presents. (no, she is not spoiled!) all the gifts had cows on them. a cow toy, a cow book. cow socks, a cow puppet. i don't know... i just like cows, i guess. they make me laugh. i thought she'd like them too.

apparently she does. the way she says "moo" in that video cracks me up. i watch it 10 times a day.

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October 7, 2005

 pour myself a cup of ambition

you know when things fall into place and you feel like there's order in the world? i like to say "the planets are aligning" as a goofy expression of the phenomenon.

over the past week or so i feel like the planets are actually colliding. bad things keep happening, with such a ferocity that with each successive item of bad news i receive i just sit, slack-jawed, in disbelief. it's seems impossible that there could be any more bad left.

nothing terribly tragic has happened specifically to me, but the things that are occurring in the lives of the people close to me are really giving me pause. my co-workers seem to be the ones who are experiencing the bulk of the planetary collision. in sympathy with (and reaction to) their troubles i've decided to make some changes in my life. i don't forsee any radical decisions in my future -- i think i'll stay in north carolina, and i think i'll keep my house, for instance -- but it's time to start figuring out if i'm using each day to its fullest potential. right now i don't think i am.

in the midst of this chaos, it's funny how right my weight-loss currently feels. i began this process before things started feeling out of control, and i'm glad for that; it's actually one my major comforts right now. my size 14 (!) jeans are my security blanket. the diet provides some sort of order.

aside from that, though, everything feels up in the air. so bear with me for a while... i'm finding it hard to keep posting about shoes and address labels while i'm expending the bulk of my energy trying to get my head screwed on straight.

i'm feeling hopeful, but essentially rudderless.

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October 5, 2005

 the death of fandom

5302.jpga big talking heads box set (aka "the brick") was released yesterday. it consists of the entire back catalog, remastered into 5.1 dualdiscs with "DVD-A surround". pretty impressive.

at least i think it is. a lot of folks on the boards seem to poo-poo the dualdisc format. i barely know what it is.

what i do know is that the set costs more than $120, which is money i don't have. and frankly, i think i've outgrown my obsession to have every single recording the band has touched.

if it weren't for the immensely cool packaging i'm not sure i'd even be tempted by this thing. i mean, i own the music already. and since i don't even have the technology to full enjoy the remastered albums i might as well just save my money and spend it on shoes instead.

still, it's sad to realize i've lost that burning passion for my favorite band. a couple of years ago i bought a new "best of" compliation (which went on to win a grammy award for packaging) -- i pre-ordered it on amazon months before it was even released. it's seems strange that my hardcore fandom has slipped that much in such a short period of time.

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October 4, 2005

 podcasts for dummies

i've recently started exploring the world of podcasts. i've had an ipod for about a year but have so far been scared to wade through lists of crappy homemade podcasts in the hope of stumbling across something worthwhile. but as my supply of "this american life" episodes starts to run dry (i've already listened to everything back through mid-2000) i've decided to gather my strength and begin to wade into podcasts.

the most logical place to start, i figured, was with the podcast directory in itunes, and specifically with adam curry's "podfinder" podcast. he bills himself as "the podfather" and highlights some of the interesting podcasts he's found in the last week. it's informative enough, but it sounds so commercial that i feel my ears begin to bleed after a few minutes.

he did point me towards my current favorite podcast, though: "fly with me." it's produced by a commercial airline pilot, and gives you a sneak peek as to what happens in the cockpit. pretty fascinating stuff. last week he aired the air traffic conversations between the control tower and the jet blue pilot who had to land with crooked nose gear.

i've also subscribed myself to NPR's "story of the day", but honestly some of their ideas about what is essential listening is just baffling to me. i skip a lot of these.

the "answer bitch" is a celebrity gossip columnist from e! online, and while her snarkiness can be somewhat amusing it really starts to grate on my nerves by the time the 15 minute podcast is over. i love celebrity gossip as much as the next person, but i wish she'd edit down her bitchiness a little. my time is precious.

i'm curious to know whether any of y'all have found any podcasts that are worthwhile. suggestions?

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October 2, 2005

 yoanna did rock it

the day started off with a wedding in beautiful downtown durham. lots of interesting clothes to look at and quite a few interesting shoe choices. some fascinating tattoos and hair color, too.

later that day i got totally sucked into a VH1 marathon of cycle two of america's next top model, which only reinforced the day's fascination with fashion.

so it seems only natural that i end the day at zappos checking out some shoes for the fall, right? right.

my heart isn't totally smitten with any of these yet, but perhaps looking at them all on one page will draw me towards one in particular.

as always, opinions are welcome.

fitzwell isabella
i think i would get these in the purple color (shown) or maybe the light blue. it's hard to imagine what these would look like on me... the reviews say that the top is more like a thick sock than a boot. interesting.

fitzwell bobbie
i would either get these in this red color or the teal. i love funky heels like this that are comfy (and won't slide off like mules) but also look great with jeans.

clarks clever
i actually wish this shoe came in other color combinations. (i don't like any of the others, which are all one solid color.) i don't generally wear white shoes, and particularly avoid it during the cold months. but i like the style of the shoe and would love to try a pair of clarks. (their wide styles are starting to be as fashionable as their narrower widths... yay!)

sofft nicolina
this might be too much money for me to spend on a shoe that looks so casual. but i really like how it's almost an athletic shoe and almost a loafer at the same time. the red is the only color i'd consider in this shoe.

sesto meucci catrice
what is it with me and red shoes?? i am shamefully in love with these. "shamefully" because i have no real explanation as to why i'm drawn to them. they're clearly WAY out of my budget, a little too mannish, and that buckle on top is not my style at all. yet i cannot stop looking at them. the black/brown combination is also nice.

clarks nimble
here's another pair of clarks. i don't know... from one angle these look too much like pumps to me. but i like the style on the other side and from the top. this pictured color is supposed to be burgandy -- i would order that, and not the black, i think. well, maybe the black. i don't know.

clarks leanne
shocking! it's another pair of red shoes!! i don't own any slingbacks, and these would be great for fall... but fall can be so short here, and i feel like i might want to spend my money on something that will take me through the winter, too.

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