Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Warning: sentimental post about dead pet ahead.

It's been exactly one year today since my sweet Sadie girl died of lung cancer. There's a weird sort of time warp thing happening for me--it feels like it happened years ago, and it feels like it happened just yesterday.

Doesn't she have the sweetest face you ever saw? Every time we went to the vet, every single time, one of the workers there would say that--"doesn't she have the cutest face?" The sympathy card from my vet (who LOVED Sadie, and actually offered to take her from me years ago, if I ever needed to find a home for her--not a chance, of course) also made reference to her sweet face.

She was a very sweet dog. When she wasn't being the scariest thing you ever saw. She considered everything she could see out of the windows HER territory, and anyone, man or beast, who walked past the house was reason to sound the alarm. And sound it she did! She'd bark loudly and run in frantic circles around the living room until the danger had passed. The cats knew to get out of her way, and when my dog Pudge came to live with us, he quickly learned it, too. She particularly hated the evil mailman, and somehow she even knew his truck. It was eerie. He never parked in front of my house, she never saw him getting in or out of the truck, and yet, when the mail truck passed by the house she went crazy.

Of course, anyone daring enough to actually come in the house was in grave danger--danger of being licked to death! She figured that anyone I allowed in was a friend, and her favorite way of showing her affection to her friends was with that enormous, washcloth-like tongue! I once re-entered the living room to find my brother, who was visiting from California, and who'd never met Sadie before, pinned helplessly on the couch while Sadie sat on top of him, enthusiastically licking his face. He was primarily helpless from the giggles, of course.

I never intended to keep Sadie. I wasn't in the market for another dog. But a friend called in a panic. They'd found a mother dog and puppies behind his workplace--would I help? Of course I said yes, and he loaded her and the puppies into a truck and brought them to my house. The plan was to keep them in my garage until homes could be found. But it was December, and the unheated garage was cold, and soon Sadie and her babies found their way into my bathroom. Over the course of the next few weeks, I found homes for all seven puppies. No one wanted Sadie, of course, a big black adult dog of indeterminate parentage. I got her on the waiting list at the SPCA--they said they'd call me the next time they were taking dogs, to see if she still needed a home, and warned that it might be a few months. They called about 3 months later. "Do you still have the dog?" I do. "Do you want to bring her in?" I started blathering. I know I should, I don't need another dog, but she's really sweet, but I KNOW I should bring her in, but she's been here for months now and I KNOW I SHOULD BRING HER IN, but she feels like family.... The woman was kind. "Why don't you think about it, and give us a call later if you want to bring her in." Of course, I never made that call.

Best decision I never made. She was a great dog, one of those that just grabs your heart and won't let go. She wasn't always an easy dog, she complicated my life in more ways than one, but she was a great dog.

Pudge and I miss you, Sadie girl.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Mister Softee, is that you?

Okay, the last few days I keep hearing the tinkling music of an ice cream truck, toodling around the neighborhood both at home and at work. Is it just me, or is this a little strange? Didn't the sound of the ice cream truck used to be a harbinger of spring? Doesn't the ice cream truck generally stop rolling when it gets brutally cold? Don't get me wrong, I love ice cream in the winter as much as I love it in the summer, but I'm not standing outside on the curb for it when the temperature gauge is below freezing. Do mothers stand on alert, holding armfuls of warm winter wear, ready to thrust scarves and mittens at their child just in time for a mad dash to the curb? I can't imagine that to be true. And the truck I saw today was making its circuits long before school was even out. Who's the target demographic here?

I can only assume that the truck is a front for some sort of nefarious activity. I'm thinking of the episode of Reno 911, where the "ice cream" truck was emblazoned with "No Smoking" and "Do Not Strike Matches" signs, since it was actually filled with illegal fireworks. Or maybe they're selling drugs. Is "Bomb Pop" code now for crystal meth, or something? I'm not quite curious enough to actually stop the truck and find out. Suppose it's a trap? There might be cops in the back, waiting with handcuffs and tasers for anyone who dares ask for a "Nutty Buddy." Can't take that chance.

Or maybe it's even more insidious. I always thought the most chilling scene in "After Hours" was Catherine O'Hara in the Mister Softee truck, that plinkety-plinking music playing eerily on and on as she trolled the streets with the vigilante mob, looking for Griffin Dunne. Shudder. Don't want to get mixed up in something like THAT.

So I'll let the ice cream truck roll past, I guess, questions unanswered. And maybe I'll stop on the way home for some Ben and Jerry's. Can't get Chubby Hubby from the back of a truck, anyway!

Friday, January 26, 2007

The goods.

Okay, as promised, some "good date" stories.

A couple of specific dates spring to mind. Interestingly, both these guys had the same first name. Coincidence? Yeah, probably so. It's a pretty common name.

Guy #1: maybe the best first date ever. It was early in December. I met this guy at a friend's party; he worked with her boyfriend. Nice enough guy, seemed really interested in me, so I gave him my number. He called the next day, and we made plans. I hadn't put up a Christmas tree yet, so he suggested driving to a local Christmas tree farm and cutting one down for me. Okay! So we went to the farm, I carefully selected the very best tree and he manfully sawed it down for me. And paid for it. Nice. We stopped to get lights and ornaments, a tree stand, etc., and then stopped at a liquor store before heading back to my place. We decorated the tree and then turned off all the lights in the house. It was dark out by then, so we got cozy on the floor underneath the tree, turned on some music and just lay there looking up at the lights and drinking liqueurs. It was pretty magical, I have to say. Sadly, succeeding dates did not live up to that one, and eventually the relationship fizzled out with no particularly strong regrets on either side. I ran into him occasionally at parties for a while, but it's probably been at least a dozen years now since our paths crossed. I DO however, still use that tree stand he bought me, and still have the souvenir glasses that came with the Black Sambuca. Hee.

Guy #2: one of the rare "good ones that got away." We did lots of hanging out with mutual friends, etc., but I think our first actual "date" may have been the weekend we went to the races. There was no horse racing in Tulsa at the time, but the company he worked for would occasionally charter a bus and take employees to the racetrack in Oklahoma City. I went one Saturday as his guest. I was working in the non-profit arts at the time, and not making squat, basically, so he gave me a fistful of cash and told me to go crazy at the betting windows. Nice! We drank and ate and gambled all day, and I think I had about $20 left at the end of it. (Which he graciously told me to keep--hee!) It was great fun. There were other notables dates with this guy. He was something of a history/archaeology buff, and belonged to some sort of club that arranged lectures and outings along those lines. We went to a lecture on Pizarro and his brutal conquest of the Incas (Or was it Cortez and the Aztecs? No, I think it was Pizarro. Some brutal Spanish explorer who wiped out an indigenous population, at any rate. Take your pick.), followed by a wine and cheese reception. Okay, maybe that doesn't sound like a great date to everyone, but I'm a bit of a history buff, too, and I thought it was great. We also went on a weekend hike along the banks of the Arkansas river, where the indigenous Indian tribes used to camp, and explored carvings and caves. Great fun. Things were going swimmingly, I thought. He was a truly nice guy, we had many of the same interests, but....BUT...there's always a but. He also had some pretty sizeable emotional baggage that was weighing him down. He told me in some detail about it, and I can't say I don't understand why he was sort of fucked up, but fucked up he was, and the end result was that I was quite painfully and suddenly dumped. The bottom line was something like "I like you a lot, but relationships never work out, so I'm dumping you now before we get any closer 'cause then it would only hurt worse when it ends, which it inevitably will." Okie dokie. I tried not to take it too personally, and we managed a fairly amicable parting, which is good, because our social circles intersect to some extent and I still see him occasionally here and there. We're quite pleasant and civil to each other, sometimes even exchanging the friendly one-armed hug. He's a good guy, all in all, and I wish him well. And, you know, it's been over 10 years, so I've had time to get all magnanimous. ;)

Okay, I could think of a few more notable moments (does making out in a hotel elevator count as a date?), but now I'm all discouraged because I realize all the really good dates I can remember were at least ten years ago. Hmph. But that's okay because, as we all know, 2007 is the Year of Liz! There's another goal for 2007--at least one memorable date. Memorable in a GOOD way, I mean, not memorable for biting and blood!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

More bad dates? Okay.

First, thank you all for your great questions. And thank you all for being gracious enough not to snicker in my face (er...or in my comments) when you pictured the hideous mid-80s outfit I described. You're too kind.

Well, I dredged up some more bad date memories in the process of writing yesterday's post, so I thought I'd share another one or two.

Okay, here's one. Just after college and I'd moved back in with my parents for a while, so I felt the need to get out as often as possible, and did quite a bit of partying. Met a cute guy, the roommate of a friend, sparks flew, we went out a few times. Let's call him Lou. He was probably the best kisser I ever knew, which has no relation to the story, but I just thought I'd share that. One night we went out with some friends of mine to the local country dancing bar. Not that we were big fans of country dancing, but it was owned by some entrepreneurial Iranian friends of ours (who also owned one of the most popular pizza places in town; they were nothing if not diverse in their entrepreneurialship) and I could often get free drinks if Shorty was there. I dated him, too, later...but that's a post for another time. I digress. Anyway, we settled in at a table with my friends, and the brother of one of the friends, and a friend of HIS. Got it? I was carrying a very small purse in those days, really almost a wallet, and when we left the table to go dance to one of the occasional non-country songs they played, I had no qualms about leaving my purse on the table, under the eyes of my friends. Of course, I SHOULD have had qualms, but I didn't. We came back from dancing, and noticed my purse was missing. OH CRAP! I asked everyone if they'd seen it, or seen it disappear. No, they all said. And went back to drinking. Nice way to show concern, "friends." I looked around, told my friends working the bar and door to keep an eye out for it, looked around some more and then noticed that my friend's brother's friend had it stuffed into his back pocket. He was sitting right next to me at the table, and he had the nerve to steal my purse and and then just sit right there! He was a big guy, I didn't really know him, and I was scared, but all of a sudden this great wave of anger surged over me and I reached behind him, grabbed it out of his pocket and screamed "That's my purse, asshole!" He initially reacted as if I'd stolen something from him, and I should have been scared, I suppose, but I wasn't. I just kept screaming "This asshole stole my purse!" He got all conciliatory then, trying to pat my back, saying "I'm sorry, I didn't know it was YOUR purse." I informed him that didn't make me feel any better. Jackass. I yelled some more--I was really making a scene, people were staring, and still the big lug just sat there. Lou started to intervene on my behalf, but I calmed down a bit and said no, let's just go to another table if he won't. We spent the rest of the evening on the other side of the bar, since for whatever reason nobody seemed interested in kicking him the hell out of the place. When it came time to go, we went outside to meet the friends we'd come with, to get a ride home. As we walked over to their car, I realized with horror that the thief was in the back seat! They were giving the jackass a ride home, and expected me to hop into the seat beside him. Well, I threw a little fit, refusing to get in as long as he was in the car. Naturally. At this point the friend's brother came up to the car, having somehow missed all the previous commotion and saw only that I was accusing his buddy of something. He got all riled up, Lou (who I didn't know at the time was a former Marine) finally had all he could take, and they began beating the shit out of each other. It was horrifying. This sweet, gentle guy I thought I was on a date with became one of the dirtiest fighters I'd ever seen. Now, on the one hand, kudos for sticking up for me. But on the other...holy HELL, were they fighting! I ran inside for the bouncers, we finally got the two of them off each other and fortunately, a friend of Lou's was there and gave us a ride home, since the asshole still refused to get out of the car. (And yes, I let my "friends" have it later!) It was all quite dramatic. I mean, there was blood. There were cuts and toothmarks and gashes, oh my! But it was over, right? Except...not quite. A few nights later I was at another bar with one of my same friends from that evening, this one owned by yet a different set of friends, a less rowdy place where we were definitely the favored customers, and friend's brother came in. Came up to me, got up in my face demanding to know where that little guy (Lou was tough, but not a big guy) was who bit him, (I told you he fought dirty) and what was his name, 'cause he was gonna find him and kill him, etc. This was a very small town, and it wouldn't have been difficult at all to find anybody, so I refused to even acknowledge his questions until finally I had enough and just said "Were you aware that your good buddy STOLE MY PURSE that night?" He didn't believe me at first, but with corroboration from my friend, he finally acknowledged that yeah, that did sound like something buddy would do. He apologized and bought us a pitcher of beer. I told him he might want to ascertain a few pertinent facts before the next time he jumped somebody, and he finally left us alone. I don't recall if I ever saw him again. And after a few more dates, Lou dumped me for some nebulous reason I can't even really remember, some form of "it's not you, it's me," I believe, and that was that. Aah, good times.

You know, none of this is really encouraging me to get back in the dating ring. Hee. Maybe I should try remembering some good dates instead. Okay, that's my assignment for tomorrow's post--good dates, good men! I'll get to thinking.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I asked for it. (Edited 'cause I missed one)

I got it. Questions. Which I will now endeavor to answer, possible humiliation notwithstanding. I'm among friends, right? It's not like I'm posting the answers on the "internets" for ANYone who can google to see...oh, wait. Well, too late now! Off we go.

-r- wishes to know details of my secret celebrity crushes. Well, I have for years maintained a deep and abiding love for one particular guy. I used to "write in" his name in those magazine polls for sexiest man. "Surely," I thought, "I can't be the only person in the world to see him for the smokin' hot man he is." I'll let you decide. My longest running celebrity crush is...Leonard Nimoy. With Spock ears or without, I find him yummy. He's smart, he's funny. I lurve him. I even bought a book of his poetry on eBay. (It's godawful, by the way. And I say that with love.) Mock me if you will. I can take it. If I had been asked this question a year or two ago, I would have also been forced to admit to a truly shameful fondness for...*whispering furtively*...Danny Bonaduce and Tom Sizemore. Fortunately, (sadly?) they have both killed off any lingering remnants of that with their recent troubles and subsequent whoring of said troubles on reality TV shows. Whew. Now I can just go back to wondering why so many people don't get how sex-ay Lyle Lovett is, and why the real question is not "Why did Julia marry HIM?" but "Why the hell did HE marry Julia?"

-r- also asks what is my favorite song to perform? One of my favorite songs is seasonal, so I really only get to sing it during Advent/Christmas, and that's Amy Grant's "Breath of Heaven." I'm not a huge fan of Amy's voice, but this song is beautiful. It fits perfectly with my voice, and it's very moving. I've never sung it that I didn't see at least one person wiping away a tear afterward. And it's very gratifying to know you've caused someone to feel that strongly. Other times of the year I love rippin' up "Crazy," a la Patsy Cline. I can sing me some Patsy! Another song that fits perfectly. And will bring a noisy karaoke bar to a sudden silence. Sometimes silence IS golden.

Libragirl asks: what is the stupidest non-sexual thing I ever did while under the influence? Okay, I'm thankful for the non-sexual stipulation, I must say. Let's see...there was the time I went out gay-bar dancing (back in my fag hag days) with friends, at a bar featuring 50-cent well drinks. I had a large number of (admittedly somewhat watery) vodka collins, and THEN for some reason thought it would be fun to take some of my friend Joey's prescription muscle relaxers. He took some, too...and then we danced. We were tearing up the dance floor, or so it felt. Our friends told us later we were basically standing in place like zombies, occasionally twitching an arm or a leg. Alcohol plus muscle relaxers? We were lucky to be alive. Stupid, stupid college kids. Don't try that at home, folks.

Chickadee asks for three guilty pleasures. Well, there's Celebreality on VH1. While I fairly quickly decided Breaking Bonaduce and Shooting Sizemore weren't for me, I will admit to previously watching BOTH Flavor of Love editions and now also watching I Love New York. God, I'm SO ashamed. Two, Ben and Jerry's ice cream. I don't let myself buy it very often, because once I do, I can't. stop. eating. it. Yum. Third, let's see...well, very, very rarely, I will let myself read some trashy Harlequin Romance-type novel. Sometimes they're so bad they're good. And you've got to give the authors credit for the many varied and sundry ways they don't say "penis" or "vagina." Let that hot, throbbing manhood extend the fullness of its length right on over to her foamy mound of desire. Hee. (Bring on the google hits for "hot throbbing manhood.")

Stefanie shares a question recently asked of her by a "MeMarmony" match. What would my 10-year-old self be impressed by (of my current self) and what would she be appalled by? I believe she would be impressed by my acting resume, since she didn't have the guts to pursue it back then, though she secretly wanted to. The original "How the Red Fern Grows" movie was shot in my small town when I was in grade school, and some of my classmates managed to snag small parts. I would have LOVED to have the courage to audition, but I just didn't. Not even close. So I think she'd think it was pretty cool that I've done something like 60 plays, and even supported myself through a few college summers doing outdoor theatre (an oxymoron if there ever was one--hee). What would make her say "what the hell were you thinking?" Probably a good 3/4 of the guys I've dated, sadly. And I'm sure she would completely freak out at the thought of being unmarried and childless at 44. And she probably wouldn't be in favor of dropping pre-med in favor of vocal music as a college major. Maybe she was actually smarter than I am. She certainly had a lot more active brain cells than I do! Ha.

Stef also asks for an amusing or horrifying date story. I'm sure I can come up with one of those. (Though in response to your musing as to why I don't generally share dating stories in this blog, that would be because I haven't DONE much dating lately. I'm about ready to ask Guinness Girl for one of her stellar match.com profiles--that should ensure some stories!) Worst date--this one springs quickly to mind. I took a guy I was newly seeing (who was also my neighbor--not awkward at all) with me to join some friends to hear a band play. Now, I'm kind of an artsy person, and by extension, most of my friends happen to be cool, artsy people. Well this guy was apparently completely intimidated, due to the previously unseen (by me) HUGE inferiority complex and MASSIVE chip on his shoulder and he compensated by getting drunk and turning into a completely judgmental asshole. Then as he got drunker, we went through a phase where he was sobbing (we were in the parking lot at this point) on my shoulder about how he wasn't good enough for me and how all my friends were looking down on him (WTF?) and then segued into a maniacal rant about everything that was suddenly wrong with ME. Long list--apparently I'm quite a bitch. I don't know how he knew that so completely after approximately 3 dates, but whatever. We had ridden together in my car and I didn't want to leave him there alone (I'm too nice) so I finally got him calmed down and into the car so I could take us both home. Oh yeah...I'm in tears at this point. Angry tears more than sad ones, but still. The next day he showed up at my workplace with a huge, beautiful armful of flowers, and asked if he could take me to lunch to apologize. I actually went, and he apologized over and over and said he thought he needed to stop drinking (really, ya THINK?), and I accepted his apology (again, too nice). One of my coworkers who hadn't heard the story from the night before stopped by my desk and said "Oh, I've always dreamed of dating a guy who'd bring me flowers for no reason like that." I said "Honey, I earned every petal and then some!" Whadya think? Pretty bad, huh? There are others, but perhaps I'll save them for their very own post.

Stinkypaw wants to know what I'm looking for in a man. Well, I really don't think I'm all that picky. He must be funny, or at least think I'M funny, he must be smart, he must be kind, he must be tolerant, he must be honest, he must be talented at or passionate about something. I don't care how old, how tall, what race, what hair or eye color or how much money he makes. Know a single guy like that? Send him my way. ;)

She also asks about my most embarrassing moment on stage. That's easy. Fortunately it was only a dress rehearsal, so there were only a few people watching. It was a 20-minute scene between me and another actor, the two of us sitting at a table in a restaurant facing each other. It's the only time in my performing career where I've really, truly "gone up," as they say. The director had added some business to do in the blackout before the scene, including lighting a candle, which of course wouldn't light. I gave up, we went on, the lights came up and I realized that for the first time ever in my performing career, I had forgotten to check my props, and they weren't set correctly. As we started with the lines, I quickly devised a plan for subtly getting them where they needed to be. Perfect. On we go. Except...except...all this last minute finagling had apparently distracted me, and suddenly my mind was blank. SO blank. Completely blank. It was terrifying. I gave my fellow actor the international facial expression for "Help me!" but he didn't. Just stared back. It went on forever. Me looking at him, pleading with my eyes, him looking back just as blank. One word from him would have broken the dam, but I guess he was "up", too. It seemed like an eternity. It probably was a good minute and a half, which IS an eternity in that situation. No way the audience didn't know what was happening. Finally a little light blinked on in my head. I knew the next line had something to do with Brenda...what's the line about Brenda..Brenda..Brenda...aha! I said the line about Brenda, he responded, and we marched on. Only...we almost instantly realized that it wasn't the FIRST line about Brenda, it was the SECOND line about Brenda, which came much later in the scene. But at that point we were in a groove. My brain was snapping and crackling. I knew we had skipped over some much needed exposition, and that we needed to go back and pick it up. Signalling again with my eyes, I jumped back to the beginning of what we'd skipped. Seamlessly, he followed. Then as we approached the spot where we'd soon be duplicating the lines we'd delivered earlier, I signalled again and JUMP! Back to where we'd left off, straight to the end of the scene. Every line delivered. Not in the original order, but nonetheless nothing was left out. We left the stage, and I was absolutely mortified, but the rest of the play went well, and afterwards the director laughingly told me she was beyond impressed with all the seamless jumping back and forth. That total brain lock has never happened to me since, at least not to that degree. Occasionally it'll freeze up for a second or two, but nobody really ever notices that. I hope it never happens again. I've seen it happen to other people, and I have SO much more sympathy now. Hee.

Sparkling Cipher asks about my most embarrassing outfit. Oh, boy. I'm cringing just thinking about it. There are many candidates--remember, I went to college in the 80s--but here's one that stands out. In my defense, at the time I was considered quite stylish. A girl even stopped me on campus once to tell me I was her "fashion idol." Hee. Poor girl. I'm remembering a blue and black-striped (vertically, of course), collarless sort of tunic, which I wore belted low with a black sash (I know!) and these weird black pants. They were sort of capri length, though not actually capri style--I remember they had these big scalloped pockets, and they hit somewhere about mid-calf. I further accessorized this outfit (oh boy, I'm turning red as we speak) with blue opaque tights and black high-heeled granny boots. Lord have mercy! How is it possible that I was ANYone's fashion idol? I don't believe there's any photographic evidence of this outfit. If I find that not to be true, I'll share it with you. Or shred it. One of the two.

3carnations wants to know my most and least favorite foods. Most favorite? Going to have to go with cheese. Potatoes in pretty much any form are right up there, too, but...the winner is cheese. Least favorite? Bell peppers in any color. Can't STAND them. Blecch.

Also, 3car asks how many active litterboxes I have. (Is this a sneaky way to try to figure out how many cats I have? Hee.) I currently have four boxes--and boy, are they active sometimes! I actually have devoted one closet to these litterboxes, in a somewhat vain attempt to keep the litter from being tracked ALL OVER the house. Really, I'm just pleased when everything makes it into the boxes--someone (Sylvie, I'm looking at you) has a bad habit of hanging the hiney over the side of the box. I keep a big sheet of plastic under the boxes, so it doesn't actually hit the floor, but still. Gross. Why do I have cats again? Oh yeah, because kittens are adorable.

Well, that's it for this post. If there are any other questions, just let me know. Obviously, having admitted to the blue-and-black striped fashion horror above, I'll answer just about anything. Hee.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Everyone's doing it....

Okay, because I am: a) sleepy; b) lazy; c) completely without an idea for a post today, or rather, completely without an idea for a GOOD post today and; d) susceptible to peer pressure, I will follow the example of several lovely and talented bloggers lately (see, I would link to them all, but I'm LAZY today; they're all over there on the sidebar somewhere, get to clickin') and open the floor for questions. Anybody want to know anything about me or my philosophies on life? My misspent youth? My secret ( i.e. embarrassing) celebrity crushes? I promise to answer even the most humiliating questions. Except maybe "how many cats do you have?" I'm not sure I want that information made public. Although now, having established that as the one question I'm unwilling to answer, I have probably made everyone think that the answer is a much larger number than it actually is. Catch-22! No, NO, I'm not saying that I have 22 cats! I'll just shut up now. Ask whatever you like, if you like.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The snowman cometh NOT

I've never been so pleased to see the local weather forecasters so "Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong...you're wrong!" (Allow yourself to hear that in the voice of Dr. Cox in the lately-running Scrubs promo.) 6-9 inches of wet, heavy snow? Yeah, that's really, really close to 1 or 2 inches of plain old (non-freezing) rain. So they're idiots, and all that mega-expensive doppler radar equipment is basically useless, but I'm going to give them a free pass this time. Let's be generous and say they were just trying to make sure people were prepared, given what happened the previous weekend. They were erring on the side of caution, I'm sure, and not overreacting in a hyperbolic frenzy to the possibility of more time on center stage. Breaking weather! Dangerous winter storm! You're only losing commercial time, but we're going to run this enormous crawl along the side and bottom of the screen, reducing your actual viewing area to almost nothing!

But the lovely rain washed away much of the ice, so it's all good with me and the weather dudes and dudettes.

It's not so good between me and the American Idol producers, I'm afraid. I've hung in there for how many seasons now? I couldn't even really tell you why. Maybe I enjoy seeing people whose confidence has no relation to any realistic assessment of their abilities get taken down a peg or two. Maybe I'm a sucker for the now inevitable sobby backstories. Maybe there's just nothing else on, and I'm too lazy to get up and stick in a DVD. Take your pick. But this season is really turning my stomach. There's a difference between aiming a stinging zinger at someone who really only wants to be on TV at any cost, and making fun of people with obvious physical and mental challenges. Some of the people they've made long, excruciating sport of have quite clearly been suffering some sort of social disorder--Asperger's or the like--or some physical abnormality. Telling that one poor young guy with the bulging eyes (thyroid problems? I don't know) that he resembled "one of those creatures in the forest" (I think you mean a lemur, Simon) was just cruel. Can he HELP that? Save your zingers for the people in randomly bizarre outfits, or the ones who obviously are just itching to be put down, so they can extend their few seconds of fame by mouthing off angrily about Simon and his complete lack of qualifications to critique their fabulous performances. (The "He's just jellus" folks, as it were.) And what's with deliberately locking one of the double exit doors, so that even the few who tried to leave with their dignity intact failed? Is that supposed to be entertaining? 'Cause it's not. At all. Blecchh. If I want to see people completely humiliated while competing for the ultimate "prize," I'll watch "Flavor of Love" and "I Love New York." (And, God help me, I've watched them both. I'm so ashamed.)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I just can't seem to get motivated to post anything this week. That would be, most likely, because all I can think about is the weather, and how much I hate it, and how it turns me into a cranky old person who does nothing but complain. Yep, that's me right now--cranky as hell and constantly complaining. And since they're now promising a few inches of "wet, heavy snow" will be coming this weekend to settle in on top of our as-yet-unmelted thick sheets of ice...well, I think you can see this won't be getting better any time soon.

I will say that I am extremely grateful that Tulsa was spared the freezing rain that is killing trees and power lines in many nearby towns. Our trees and power lines are fine at this point. The main roads are becoming fairly passable--it's just the side roads and driveways and yards and parking lots at this point which are deadly sheets of solid ice. I can't even imagine how cranky the people are who've been without electricity and water for several days now. They interviewed two elderly people on the news the other night who made me want to cry--they had heat but no electricity, and were basically trapped in their house. The old man wept as he thanked the news crew for coming by "to talk to us."

My own parents have lost a huge hackberry tree in their backyard. Most of it came down on the back fence and storage buildings. My father had just moved his car, or it would have been smashed, too. Part of the tree is still standing, and if it comes down it will hit the house. My mother is afraid to go in the dining room, and the tree guys are all so busy they can't get anyone to come look at it. It was a huge, beautiful tree, planted by my grandfather 50 years ago. My mother cried when she called to tell me. I wanted to cry, too. I loved that tree. My grandfather put a great swing in it for us when we were little, and we spent hours playing under those branches. I'll miss that tree, like I miss my grandpa.

There is one piece of good news. I've told this to several of my family and friends, and I'm not getting what I consider to be a suitably enthusiastic response. Let's see if you guys can do better. The stray cat I've been feeding and trying to befriend, the perenially pregnant (and pregnant once more, I'm sure, since the tomcats just came a-courtin' a few days ago) stray cat I've been trying to catch for what seems like forever, though it's really only about a year---that stray cat is now LETTING ME PET HER! And she's rubbing against my legs and she's PURRING! If this ice and snow ever lets up, I'm sure I will be able to scoop her up and get her to the vet for a long overdue spay. Yay! Yay for no more babies! Kittens are great, but I've tamed all the feral kittens I care to for a while. Isn't that good news? PETTING AND RUBBING AND PURRING, OH MY!

Monday, January 15, 2007

My favorite spam subject line ever

Subject: be richier

Hee! I would love to be "richier." I will assume that some otherwise soulless spammer is a fan of Stephen Colbert and "truthiness." "Richier." Fabulous.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The iceman cometh.

Well, the ice storm has hit. The streets are already getting slick, and we're getting ready to head home early. I HATE WINTER WEATHER! They're saying travel will be "difficult to impossible" all weekend, so home I go to snuggle in with the critters. Which should be fine, as long as the power lines hold up. If the power goes out, I'm going to be one unhappy (cold)camper. Probably literally, as I'd most likely haul the sleeping bag out of the garage and hunker down. Did I mention that I HATE WINTER WEATHER? It bears repeating. And it's supposed to be brutally cold for the next few days, as well, so there will be no melting. And since it's the weekend, and Monday is a holiday for a lot of people, it won't get driven off the roads much.

Gah. Double gah.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

You made me feel like dancing, Mr. G

For some reason I was thinking about dancing today. Yeah, weird. I have no idea why. I'm not planning on going dancing any time soon, and really I'm not thinking about my normal type of dancing, anyway...you know--in a bar with some friends, all doing your own version of the white man's overbite, rushing en masse to the floor when a particularly great song comes on. (I used to do that a lot for "That's What I Like About You" as sung by the Romantics. Dating myself here, I know, but I frickin' loved dancing to that song.) Not thinking about ballet, or country two-stepping, or musical theatre dancing. No, for some reason, I'm thinking about good, old-fashioned partner dancing, swing dancing, Fred and Ginger dancing. Wedding reception dancing.

I'm not particularly gifted in that area. Oh, I don't have two left feet, exactly, but sometimes the twirling and spinning confuses me. It's like playing Twister, only upright. Left foot where? Right hand what? But I'm pretty easily led, and with a really strong partner...I can see why Fred and Ginger were always smiling. It's fun.

The most fun I ever had at a reception was following the wedding of a high school/college friend. Big Catholic wedding--open bar, lots of food, and a great dance band with a sizeable dance floor. The magic ingredient, though? Her dad. Her parents both loved to dance, and we were always a little envious of how beautifully they moved together. Well, on such an occasion as the wedding of his first daughter, Mr. G wasn't going to see any young lady even approaching wallflowerdom. One by one, he grabbed us and swung us out onto the floor. Modest protestations of "I'm not really very good" were completely ignored, and for good reason. When you danced with Mr. G, you WERE good. We swung and swayed and dipped and twirled, and it was fabulous! How did he do that? I didn't know what we were doing from one second to the next, but it didn't matter. I haven't seen my friend or her parents in years, but wherever they are, I sure hope they're still dancing.

I've known a couple of other men with similar magic. One was the gay hairstylist/pageant coach of a friend of mine. The three of us went out drinking one night, and before the night was over, Wade and I were stars. He was an incredibly strong dance partner and, like Mr. G, would not hear from me that I really couldn't dance. "Just follow me, honey!" Before I knew it, we were cutting quite a rug. He flung me this way and that way, occasionally discreetly whispering "Twirl to the left....now!" or "Ready for a spin to the right!" It was like a movie--people actually made a circle around us and watched, and clapped. I don't know about you, but generally, if there's a big circle of people around me on a dance floor, staring...it's most likely because I have drunkenly fallen down, not because I'm aMAZing! When we made our way breathlessly back to the table my friend said "I never knew you could dance like that!" Neither did I. Well, except for that night with Mr. G.

So why am I thinking about that now? I don't know. Maybe because my life has been a little stagnant of late. Not enough fun, and definitely not enough dancing. Maybe that's a worthy goal for 2007--more dancing! Even if all I do is draw the blinds, crank the stereo up and dance like a fool by myself. Whee!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Just a reminder to be kind, I guess...

On my drive to work each morning, I pass a middle school. This morning as I passed I saw two people crossing the street, near the crosswalk. A mother walking her daughter to school, I assumed, then instantly questioned my assumption. That girl can't be in middle school--look at her. She was a big girl, tall and chunky, wearing a backpack. She looks way too old! And why does she still need her mother to walk her? And instantly I felt ashamed of myself.

I flashed back in time to my own prepubescent years. I was a chubby girl, though not especially tall (that came later), and I was often perceived to be older than I was. I had friends, older by several months, but very small-framed, who had the opposite problem. "You can't come into this PG movie--there's no way you're 13!" (I guess adolescence sucks for everyone!)

The most humiliating experience of this sort for me was the summer before I turned 12 (my birthday's in the fall). My aunt would occasionally pick up my younger sister and me and drop us off at the town swimming pool for the afternoon, along with our younger cousins, who we were in charge of watching. In exchange, she'd pay our way into the pool, and give us money for snacks. She generally counted it out--just enough for each of us, and no extra, so the younger girls would know there could be no begging for additional candy. There was a price break for kids under 12, and that's the amount we each were allotted. The lifeguards were all generally boys in their late teens/early twenties and they took turns doing the different tasks--sitting in the chair, assigning baskets for our clothes, taking the money at the door. Well, this day the door guy was an ass. We handed over our money, as usual, and started inside. "Wait--you!" I turned--me? "Come back here! You didn't pay enough." Yes, I did. I gave you the same amount everyone else did. "There's NO WAY you're under 12." I was mortified. I was very shy, HATED any sort of negative attention or being pointed out for being different in any way, and he was practically yelling. People could HEAR him! They were staring! I wanted to die. I'll be twelve in September, but I'm only 11 now. "I don't believe it. Look how big she is--does she look 11 to you?!" I was very near bursting into tears--I didn't know what to do. I didn't have enough money to pay the adult price. Why was he doing this to me? Fortunately my aunt was lingering in her car until we were safely inside, and noticed something was up. She came marching over, demanding to know the problem, and then read the guy the riot act. He clearly didn't believe her, but wasn't up to dealing with an irate adult (only man enough to pick on little girls, apparently), so we were allowed in, and by the end of the afternoon I was mostly having a good time. But I never forgot it, or the way he made me feel.

What kind of person does something like that to an insecure young girl? Someone young and full of himself, I suppose, and probably riddled with his own insecurities. Or maybe he was just an ass then, and is an ass now, wherever he is. I like thinking that he's old and pasty and flabby and unhappy, drinking Coors on the sagging couch in his rundown trailer, after getting home from work at his low-paying, unfulfilling job, before going to bed to dream of that summer he was a lifeguard--all young and tanned and muscled. Wasn't that the best of times?

So I remembered that this morning, when for a brief second I thought "that girl can't be in middle school." And then my heart ached for her, for having to be that girl. And I wished I could pull her aside and tell her that in just a few years, looking a bit older will be an advantage. I started to going to bars with my friends in college when I was 19 and never ONCE got carded! Who's laughing now? Hee! And public school will be behind you and there's a whole world out there where you're free to choose the people you associate with, for the most part, and that world can be your motherfuckin' oyster!

Well, until you start to get gray, and need reading glasses, and sometimes your hip hurts and your knees creak and....but that's a post for another time. Or not. Who cares about those things, really--I'm all young and fabulous and vital on the inside, right? Right? (I'm imagining a chorus of "hell yeahs" right now. Ha.) Thanks. That's what I thought.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Maybe 2007 IS gonna be my year

It's off to an auspicious start.

Last week a friend invited me (with apologies for the short notice) to drive to Dallas with her on Sunday to go to the opera. Well, I have no life to speak of, and am never offended by short notice, so once I had someone lined up to let my dog out a time or two while I was gone, I eagerly accepted.

We left fairly early, so we'd have time for lunch before the 2:00 matinee. As we approached Dallas, we picked at random an exit that looked promising for restaurant choices, quickly bypassing fish and steak places (not so good for a vegetarian). One building was bookended by Mexican restaurants, pretty much always a good choice for me, so we headed that direction. One end of the building promised "fine Mexican dining," the other end promised...CHIPOTLE! My friend didn't quite understand my sudden squeals of glee, but readily agreed to it. So I am pleased to report that my Chipotle cherry has now been popped, so to speak, and it was a delightful experience for all concerned. I've spent so many months hearing from you guys what a religious experience Chipotle is, and now I can say that I, too, have experienced the wonder. *wipes away small tear of joy* The single less-than-perfect part of the experience was that it was incredibly noisy, due in equal parts to a high metal ceiling and a large amount of families with children in attendance. That was more than offset, though, by the reasonable price of the food. Why didn't any of you tell me that I could have a monstrously large burrito, chips and salsa and one of my favorite imported beers for under $10?!? And, of course, we realized too late that we could have easily solved the noise problem by going out on the patio; it just never occurred to us to consider patio dining in January, although, since it was a beautifully warm, sunny day, it certainly should have. Our bad. For those of you wondering, vegetarian burrito with: black beans, rice, pico, lettuce, cheese, sour cream and guacamole (which was NOT extra). Delightful.

Oh yeah, the opera was fun, too. ;)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Sweet dreams...not so much

As I head off into the weekend (finally!) let me just leave you with this synopsis of the disturbing dream I had last night. I was at a party somewhere and ran into Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Wait--that's not the disturbing part! Tom and I had a bit of an argument re: Scientology, me calling it bunk and him defending it vigorously. The conversation ended with some ominous words from Tom about how I would soon know the truth, and he stormed off (Katie in tow, presumably). The party went on, and a little later in the evening we all suddenly got a very strange feeling something was happening outside and went to the door. There was, coming from the sky, a shower of light, like thousands of little tiny meteorites floating to earth. As the pieces of light reached the ground, people began being sucked up into the sky and disappearing. I somehow knew instantly that this was some sort of Scientology Rapture-type thing, and began freaking out. "He was right! Omigosh, he was right!" Suddenly I began flying upward, but then stopped and slowly came back down. (Okay, that part was sort of like Charlie and Grandpa Joe in the fizzy lifting drink machine, I now realize. Nothing like hidden pop culture references in your Rapture dream.) There were still plenty of people milling around, but I quickly realized that none of them could see me or hear me, and I couldn't make a physical connection with anyone or anything. This limbo-like state of existence seemed to go on and on, and I became certain that this was my fate for eternity, and started to cry. It seemed like such a pointless end to it all, you know? Suddenly I started upward again and began to hear a deep, sonorous voice (L. Ron Hubbard perhaps?) telling me that I had been foolish not to believe the truth that had been given me (from Tom Cruise--hee!) and as punishment I would not be allowed to enter the next state of existence, which apparently was glorious and wonderful (and where Tom and Katie were already living it up, no doubt, with John Travolta and Kelly Preston and Leah Remini and Jenna Elfman--are there any non-celebrity Scientologists?), but since I had basically been a good person (I knew taking in all those kittens would pay off!) I would be allowed to live another lifetime, but this time I better get it right! That's when I woke up.

So what the hell does THAT mean?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Teacher, Teacher

So I've been seeing the trailers for the new Hilary "I want another Oscar" Swank vehicle, and it has me thinking. Not thinking I'll actually pay to see the movie (despite the hunky presence of Patrick Dempsey...McSwoon), but wondering why every movie about teachers has to portray them as either bumbling or inept (if it's a comedy) or incredibly, earnestly passionate about teaching, prone to making life-changing speeches to their previously disinterested students (if it's a drama). Was that your experience? Were those your teachers?

Let me start by saying that I come from a family of teachers, and I have the utmost respect for the profession. It's incredibly important, it's hard to do and harder to do well, they're generally criminally underpaid, and I cringe when I hear someone say they might have to "fall back on" teaching, if all else fails. Now granted, I wouldn't describe my own career path as anything but a whole bunch of "falling back on," but, in a perfect world, teaching shouldn't be subject to that. I had a few teachers who "fell back" on teaching and boy, did it show. To me teaching, like the ministry, should be a calling. The best teachers and the best preachers are the ones who really want to be there.

But back to the movies. I had some good teachers, some bad teachers, some great teachers, but never once did I have a teacher who stood in front of the class and gave speeches about the importance of education, igniting throes of passion in his/her students and succeeding where all others had failed in getting them to give a damn. That's so dramatic. I know, I know, it's a MOVIE, what am I expecting? But it's gotten tiresome, to me. And it's so predictable. And I'm pretty sure that in the small town where I grew up (and I'm guessing, lots of others), a teacher who got in the face of the principal and refused to play by the rules wouldn't have been given too many more chances for speech-making. Not that there weren't teachers willing to stand up for their beliefs, I'm sure, but it's all about finessing the approach. You catch more flies with honey, is what I'm sayin'.

I'm not saying I didn't have teachers who changed my life. I did. I'm saying I didn't have teachers who changed my life by making speeches. They did it by making learning fun. They did it with a gentle poking and prodding of individual students. I was a devastatingly shy child. There are certain things I NEVER would have asked for, things I NEVER would have done on my own. Did my teachers give me a speech? No. They quietly took me aside to give me special library privileges. They scheduled me to play or sing a solo in the Christmas pageant without having to audition for it in front of everyone. (Strangely enough, I never had a problem actually performing, just bringing myself to raise my hand in front of everyone and say "I'd like to..." or even to presume that I might be good enough to try. I've gotten over that since. Hee.) Those were life-changing things, but they sure weren't dramatic. I was probably the only one who noticed. I'm sure there were other life-changing things happening to other kids, as well, that only they knew about. That's a good teacher to me--more concerned with the little details of individual children than with making speeches. Not that we weren't occasionally subjected to some speechifying, but it generally resulted in little more than some eye-rolling on our parts.

I had more than my share of fun teachers, as well. Not the insecure "I want all the kids to like me, so I won't enforce any discipline" kind of "fun" teacher, but good teachers who saw the value of keeping things interesting. The chemistry teacher who took us on a trek through town, collecting water samples from the various creeks and streams for quality testing later in the lab. Who, just before Christmas, presented us with a lab instruction sheet entitled "Partial Thermal Degradation of Mixed Saccharides with Protein Inclusions." After an hour of precise work with beakers and bunsen burners, we had the most delicious peanut brittle you ever tasted. The math teacher who gave extra points for correctly predicting the point spread on the weekend football game, and who, on particularly beautiful days, let us finish our assignments sitting in the meadow next to the school. The English teacher who wasn't above allowing us to occasionally pull our chairs in a circle and play a quick game of Killer or literary charades. The junior high science teacher who kept a big box of small toys, given to anyone who made an A on a test. Oh, how we loved rifling through the box of "Huffy Toys." Once he got boxes of Cracker Jacks on sale, and that was the best of all--it was two toys in one! The grade school music teacher who could manufacture sets and costumes out of thin air, it seemed. The social studies teacher who passed out chewing gum on Fridays. And my own mother, my elementary school reading teacher, who patiently read aloud to us on Friday afternoons, one chapter each week from a book of our choice (and oh, how we girls cried at How the Red Fern Grows). No speeches, no Oscar-worthy drama. Just good teachers doing a good job of molding young minds, who nonetheless had no problem leaving it all (or mostly) behind at the end of the day--going home to to give equal dedication to their own families. I remember my mother typing her masters' thesis at the kitchen table with three young children underfoot; I remember her administering an afterschool tutoring program for disadvantaged kids; I do NOT remember her ever having a serious discussion with my father about whether she was neglecting any of us--she wasn't. As much as she cared about her students, she cared about her family more. No, she and her colleagues were not the stuff movies are made of, I suppose, but they're the kind of teachers I remember.

What kind of teachers do you remember?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The year that was. Or wasn't.

Let me preface this by saying that I did not spend the weekend entangled in cords, though at times it felt that way. The new television was hooked up and adjusted with only a bit of fuss, mostly caused by the required rearranging of all the different boxes in my not-at-all-that-large entertainment center. What's the fascination with small? I liked being able to set my digital cable box on top of the TV. The cats liked it, too. Alas for us all, the new TV would not accommodate said positioning of said box, so rearranging was done. Stubborn coaxial cable connections were forced to submit to my will, the picture and sound were tweaked (okay, the tweaking went on and off for several hours, while I worked to get just the right look and sound...OCD much?), and all was right with the world. (Except for poor kitty Babs, who was very confused about the loss of her favorite napping spot. Sorry, Babs, nothing I can do.) There was one "omigosh, I'm getting old" moment that stopped short of total humiliation. When I loaded the batteries provided into the new remote, it wouldn't work. These batteries must be dead, I thought. No problem, I have more AA batteries in the drawer. I loaded those; it still didn't work. I began to get angry. They gave me a faulty remote! Without the remote I can't adjust the picture and it looks like shit! Where's the Magnavox 800 number? Fortunately I checked it one more time before I called and turned into Megabitch. I hadn't bothered to put on my (recently acquired) reading glasses, and I had misread the little plus and minus marks, and the batteries were in backwards. Oops. Sucks to get older. Sigh.

The modem installation was less successful, I'm afraid. I won't bore you with the details, but I'm very close to having to admit defeat and call on my more technically savvy pal for help. Oh well.

On New Year's Eve I was fast asleep in front of the beautiful new television, with its perfectly adjusted picture by, oh...around 10:30. Happy New Year!

So, reminiscing about the year just past abounds in the blogosphere, along with the sharing of New Year's resolutions. Well, I don't make resolutions, so I won't take part in that, but good luck to all of you who do! In general, 2006 wasn't the greatest of years for me, but it was nowhere near the worst, either. There were certainly low points, quite a few of them, but having lived through them once, I just don't feel up to reliving them now. Instead, I will take a more Pollyanna-ish approach than is typical for me, and attempt to find the bright spots. Which don't spring instantly to mind, but there must be SOME, right? I don't want to overreach here, so how about I try for a moderately-sized list of good things about 2006. Let's do.....six. That should be doable. I will try to come up with actual positives, instead of turning the absence of the negative into the positive (i.e. "I didn't have a major car wreck"). Here then, with no further ado, are:

My Top 6 in '06

1. There were kittens. This would also qualify for the bad list, as well, since the kittens in question were feral, and required me to trap and tame and find homes for them, but we're focusing on the good here. And kittens....well, they're cuter than should be legal. I find it absolutely impossible to be completely depressed when there's a playful kitten in the room. Sure, the depression will resume when I leave the kitten zone and return to work, etc., but for that moment, depression is not an option. This feeling undoubtedly explains why I have so many CATS, but hey, they're still cheaper than Zoloft, right? Well, most of the time.

2. A play I was in was selected to represent Oklahoma at the AACTFest Regionals competition in Louisiana this April (and I received an acting award for it, as well--you should see the tiny little pretend Oscar statuette--hee). Of course, the fundraising drive to pay the expenses for the trip isn't going as well as we would like, but POLLYANNA! We'll get there and it will be great fun. And maybe we'll win, and go to nationals. (Counting no chickens, but fingers are certainly being crossed.)

3. I did actually go out on a couple of real dates in '06. Of course the guy, despite a great initial outlook, proved to be an idiot, but POLLYANNA! The effort was made, dates were gone on, and were fairly pleasant. And he paid. Hee.

Okay...come on..halfway there.

4. I increased my blog reading, started this blog, and "met" many lovely and talented bloggers, whose writing entertains and informs me every day. Thanks, bloggers!

5. My favorite vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant reopened, after an absence of 6 years. Hallelujah! Spring rolls for everyone.

One more...I can do it. I think I can, I think I can...

6. I kept my refrigerator clean. Well, pretty clean. Okay, so I was reaching a bit for that one, but I have a terrible habit of accumulating "science projects" in the fridge (it's so hard not to overcook for one, and I have a frugal person's horror of throwing out perfectly good leftovers), and this year I very regularly threw that stuff right out. Yay, me!

Okay, that's six. I think we can all agree this is not the stuff that "My best year ever!" posts are made of, but at least I made it to six. Maybe I should make a resolution this year--maybe I should resolve to have at least seven stellar moments in '07. I'll work on that.