Monday, April 30, 2007
Operation: Be Healthier continues unabated. I have exercised EVERY SINGLE DAY since I started this madness. Of course, that's only 11 days, but still....every single one of them. And I am eating better, in general. I don't weigh myself on a daily basis (in that direction madness lies, for me), but I can already see a pretty significant difference in how my clothes are fitting. So, that's a very, very good thing, since without some sort of positive reinforcement, I'd never be able to continue down this path. Oh, I'd probably be able to continue with the exercise, but I'd never be able to continue with the one lifestyle modification I think is making the biggest difference: the reduction of my cheese intake. I actually went to the grocery store this weekend, and avoided the cheese aisle completely! I know, I know, it was painful. I could hear the cheeses calling to me, swear to god. "Eat me, Liz!" Is that you, extra sharp cheddar? "No, no, eat ME." Ah, little muenster, I'd know you anywhere. But I quickly turned my cart in a different direction and zipped away.
Did you know it's possible to eat a sandwich or veggie burger without cheese? It is! I know, it's hard for me to believe, too...but I've done it now, more than once. I only hope I can continue, and that, eventually, it will be easier. Until then, I'll simply jam my fingers in my ears and sing "la la la" loudly, whenever I'm near the cheese aisle. The delicious, delicious cheese aisle. Sigh.
Friday, April 27, 2007
So, what's been going on in my little corner of the world, you ask? And how are those feral felines, Dolly and McBeady? Well, I'll tell you.
McBeady and I have had a little setback in our relationship. Apparently, he was REALLY freaked out by my petsitters, and their scary, scary hands, reaching into his little haven of safety. How dare they! They were trying to FEED you, Beady my boy. Cut them some slack. At any rate, he's slowly coming back around, I think, but he's quite easily startled, and sometimes he narrows his eyes, hisses at me and bolts away in fear for no reason I can discern. Dolly merely looks at him like he's crazy. She's my pretty little girl. She does love her some McBeady, though. They're so cute, rubbing and curling around each other. And sometimes I see them coming in from their daily adventures together, ambling along through the neighboring yards, looking for all the world like a couple of crazy kids in love. If they could be holding hands, they would be. Awwww.....sweet. Dolly also spends a lot of time peering in one of my windows. I've been opening the windows a bit in the evenings, since it's warmed up, and often the inside cats (including her babies--I wonder if they remember her?) sit with their noses pressed up against the screen, sniffing Miss Dolly. I wonder sometimes what would happen if I brought her inside. I hate having outdoor cats--I worry too much. Last week Dolly disappeared for 24 hours, and I was a nervous wreck. I don't know where she went, or why, or what she did while she was there, but I was sooo glad to see her return. She got a kiss first, and then a thorough scolding. She wasn't with McBeady, I know, since he came around several times while she was gone. And, despite my demands for him to tell me what he knew, he claimed to have no knowledge of her whereabouts, either. Silly critters. Do they not know I fret about them? Sigh.
So, what else is happening around here?
The exercise continues, unbelievably. Every day for a week now (and twice on Saturday and Sunday) I have done a workout tape. Yay, me! I'm also trying to eat a little healthier. My new plan is to not keep cheese or good bread (like the crusty artisan loaves of sourdough I can eat half of in a single sitting) in the house. Oh, I'm not going crazy--I'll still eat cheese and bread, but maybe not so much. Or so often. We'll see how that goes.
Dick Cheney is in town today, for a fundraiser for that motherfucker (no need to mince words here) Jim Inhofe. They've got part of downtown blocked off for "security," apparently. It's a good thing I didn't need to go downtown today, or I'd be really pissed off. Inconveniencing hundreds of people for hours, for a political fundraiser? Not cool. Official business is one thing, but this is not official business. They could have held the fundraiser on a Saturday, when downtown is a ghost town, and not inconvenienced people just trying to get to work. I must confess that I am giggling, though, that the local DFA chapter is staging a protest and sale across the street from the $250/plate fundraiser. For 250 cents, they'll sell you a baloney sandwich. Hee.
And, speaking of food, it seems there IS such a thing as a free lunch. Sometimes, there is such a thing as TWO free lunches. And both with guacamole! The owner of my company took us to lunch Tuesday for Administrative Professionals Day, to one of my favorite Mexican restaurants. Avocado quesadilla, guac on the side. Yum. She even encouraged us to order a margarita. And stopped on the way back to the office to buy us pretty hanging baskets of flowers. Nice. And yesterday, I stopped at Qdoba (sorry, Chipotle fans, Qdoba's all we've got) for a burrito--which was free, as I had finally accrued enough points on my Qdoba rewards card. Yay, free food!
Of course, munching down on free food, attained in part because I am able to freely go and purchase an embarrassingly large burrito pretty much whenever I want, made me feel incredibly guilty, having just cried my way through most of "Idol Gives Back" the previous night. Yes, American Idol made me cry, and it had nothing to do with Sanjaya's singing. The in-studio bits were cheesy, of course, but the actual footage...heartwrenching. I understand Angelina's impulse, I guess...I wanted to scoop up every one of those orphans and take them home with me. And I'm not even a kid person! And closer to home...I went into the Appalachians almost 30 years ago on a work-service project with my church youth group. How distressing that it seems like nothing much has changed in all that time. Sigh. At any rate, I'd been meaning to send in a post-Lenten donation to Episcopal Relief & Development, and just hadn't remembered to get the check in the envelope and the envelope in the mail. So I did that, buying drought-resistant seedlings and a malaria-prevention kit for an African family. I encourage everyone to give a little bit, to the charity of your choice. People shouldn't be starving, and dying of malaria. Mosquito nets are so cheap! Certainly cheaper than the burritos I consume all too frequently. Okay, moving on.
And, actually, that's pretty much all that's been going on with me. My next-door neighbor wants to sell me his house--an intriguing possibility, perhaps. But overall, my life's a little boring at the moment. Though, tonight, I am told there will be Indian food with the fabulous George, as she is passing through to see her posse on her way back to Seattle. Coolness.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
The point in question: if you had a sudden influx of...what did Stefanie say? Great gobs of superfluous cash? Something like that. At any rate, if you had a sudden influx of great gobs of superfluous cash, name five things you would consider splurge-worthy. And, conversely, name five things on which you would not splurge, even if money were no object. So, here we go.
Life's little luxuries:
1. Lawn/garden maintenance. I'd hire a lawn crew so fast your head would spin. I hate mowing. And, while I love the actual planting of a garden, I hate weeding, so I'd outsource that, as well.
I used to have a friend who mowed my lawn, weed-eated and trimmed for me, for $6 (random, I know...so was he) and whatever leftovers I had in my fridge at the time. Sadly, he moved away, and I've not found anyone else willing to take on the task (I have a big yard) for such a paltry sum. Miss ya, Vic!
2. Cat box scooper. Wouldn't that be great? To have someone come in a couple of times a day and scoop those boxes for me? While they were there, I guess I could also have them pick up Pudge's deposits in the backyard, as well. I actually don't usually even bother (big yard, remember?), but as long as they're there, they might as well. I'm sure the lawn crew would appreciate it.
3. Chauffeur. I'd love to have someone drive me around while I napped or read in the back. And, while he's waiting to pick me up from the fabulous destination to which he has just delivered me, he can take care of all the pesky auto maintenance, as well.
4. Books, books, books. HARDBACK books. New releases. All of them. ;) The ones that don't really grab me, I could then donate to needy libraries. Sigh. Wouldn't that be swell?
5. Personal chef. Forget the personal trainer--I think the real reason "Orpah" managed to slim down was that she had someone cooking her delicious, healthy meals. Eating healthy is a LOT more work than eating junk.
Not on MY dime:
1. Personal stylist. I know this has been a popular choice, but I think I have pretty good taste and a sense of style. I've just never had the money to implement it in the way I would like. The gobs of cash would certainly take care of THAT problem.
2. Super-expensive designer ANYthing. I don't think having a sense of style need include paying extra for anyone's name on the label. And I just can't fathom paying thousands of dollars for any one item. Heck, I can't really fathom paying HUNDREDS of dollars for any one item. $150-175 seems like more than enough to pay, to me--be it shoes, handbags, clothes, whatever. There are people starving in the world, you know? Get a purse at Target and make a donation to your favorite charity. Or make a donation to MY favorite charity, if you like. ;)
3. Nice furniture. I have cats with claws. Enough said. Though, if I have gobs of cash, I guess I could afford to keep reupholstering....no, that's too much trouble. I'll just stick with slipcovers and throws. (WHY is it I love those cats again?) Now, if someone could invent an upholstery fabric that is resistant to cat claws--THAT I would buy!
4. Wine/champagne. Though I did once have Dom Perignon, and thought it was really, really good, I don't think I need more than a $10 bottle of wine, on a regular basis. I'm already a beer snob, no need to add wine snobbery on top of it.
5. Luxury car. Though I would absolutely have a much nicer car than I currently do (like THAT would be hard), I wouldn't pay half a million for a Bentley, or anything. No matter how much it costs, it's still just basically getting you from point A to point B, right? Besides, I need to save that money to tip my chauffeur. Hee. I'm not sure what it says about me that I want a driver for my hybrid, but oh well...it's my list, right?
Monday, April 23, 2007
Friday night I planted a few zinnias my boss gave me in the pots on my porch. Pretty! Now I just needed to do some work on the main flower bed. I planned to do that on Saturday. After my planting, I...exercised. I know, crazy, right?
Something's gotten into me. I don't know what it is, but I hope it stays a while. Thursday evening I suddenly decided to start exercising, a decision which was way, way overdue. I'm sure it was due in part to the fact that I am now finished for good with the play I was working on for what seems like forever, and suddenly find myself without my next creative endeavor in sight. The summer shows I might have been interested in have already been cast, so...I guess I'm taking a little break. Little breaks are okay, but little breaks that turn into bigger breaks often leave me feeling a bit depressed and out of sorts, so I decided to try and head that off by seeing if I could channel some of my old obsessive tendencies towards exercise. I pulled out some old workout tapes (yes, tapes, not DVDs, that's how long it's been) and popped one in. And it didn't kill me! (It's pretty low impact, so there probably wasn't any real danger of that, anyway. Hee.) It actually felt...kind of good. I did it again Friday night, and then again Saturday morning, after I cleaned the house. And Saturday evening, when there wasn't anything good on TV and I started thinking about eating something bad for me...I did it again. I EXERCISED INSTEAD OF EATING. For all you gym-going healthy people, that may not seem like a big deal, but for me, it's huge. I "walked away the pounds" again on Sunday morning and then again on Sunday evening. Hopefully I can manage at least once a day for awhile. Wish me luck!
Aside from the completely out of character burst of exercise energy, the weekend was mostly about waiting. The "plan" was to take myself to lunch Saturday at my favorite restaurant, go grocery shopping and then pick up some bedding plants and go crazy in the flowerbed. It was a lovely, albeit quite windy, day. When I arrived at the restaurant, though, I realized I might need a change of plans. I've had a very slow-leaking tire for some time now, and had put off dealing with it, but the leak apparently had its own burst of energy, and the tire, which I had aired up only the night before, was now nearly completely flat. Okay. New plan. Just down the street from the restaurant is a Big Box Mart with a Tire and Lube Express. (Okay, I know Big Box Mart on a Saturday afternoon is very close to one of the inner circles of hell, but all the other tire places are closed, so I'm stuck.) I'll drop it there to have the tire fixed or replaced, do my shopping while I'm waiting, THEN stop for plants on the way home. Off we go.
"How long will it take, do you think?" I ask the pleasant attendant on duty. "Probably about 2.5 hours," she replies. (Yes, a she. There are lots and lots of girls working in the tire and lube express now. Good for them. Though personally, a job where my hands are constantly covered in grease and oil...omigod, I shudder just thinking about it.) Oh, that's just great. I guess I'll do my shopping in a leisurely manner. And pick up a book, just in case. (Not the greatest array of literary choices ever, in the Big Box Mart, though they do have the longest aisle of "Inspirational" books I've ever seen. I skipped that aisle. Not in the mood to be "inspired.") So I shopped, and shopped. I strolled. Oh look, those tank tops are cheap! Oh look, there' s a nice watch on clearance. What a cute little cactus. And hey, I've been needing some new mildreds.* I decided not to risk the produce or frozen food aisles, given my potentially long wait, but eventually I think I made it down nearly every other aisle in the store. I'll just go check on that car. "There are six cars ahead of you. Probably another 2.5 hours." "NOOOOOOOOOO! That's what they said when I got here, HOURS ago." "I don't know what to tell you. There are six cars ahead of you. There's a 'McRonalds' at the front of the store if you wanted to sit there for a while." Omigod--sitting INSIDE the McRonalds INSIDE the Big Box Mart on a Saturday afternoon? Are you fucking kidding me? Talk about your innermost circle of hell! Instead I borrowed back my keys, stashed my purchases in the trunk, and settled down with my book on a little plot of grass (a grassy knoll, if you will) at the edge of the parking lot, with an unobstructed view of my car, so I'd know when they pulled it into the bay, at least.
I passed the time by:
b. Littering. I didn't mean to! I wanted to put on my cute new watch, and the gale force wind ripped the plastic bag right out of my hand. Before I could even stand up and turn around, it was already at least 100 feet away. Damn you, Big Box Mart--you made me litter!
c. "Chatting" with the attendant at the nearby recycling area. "You'll never get that bag back now!" Cackle, cackle. "Oh honey, don't worry about your hair in this wind." Cackle, cackle. "You waiting for your car, honey?" While Cackler is certainly to be commended for her commitment to the environment, she really should have paid attention at some point in her life to the admonition to use sunscreen. I have never in my life seen skin quite that...cured. She looked to be made of fine corinthian leather. It hurt just to look at her.
I was there for hours. No, make that years. At some point, I am convinced, time stopped passing at all, then flipped around and starting going in reverse. What convinced me of this? Well, when was the last time YOU saw a margarine-colored, wood-panelled station wagon actually being driven in public? Then, when I finally saw my car going in, and went inside to wait on the bench, I sat next to a fellow with a fine, 70's style afro and sideburns. My god, I've been here so long, "time" has lost all meaning!
The car was finally done, and home I went, completely out of the mood for gardening.
Sunday, in addition to the aforementioned exercise, I also did some more waiting...but I'm going to be cryptic and not talk about it, at least not right now. Let's just say I talked myself into doing something that will almost certainly not have the results I was hoping for, and if that's the case, I choose not to discuss it. Ever. (I know...mysterious. Hee.)
So that was my weekend. How was yours?
*Metalia's charming term for underwear, of course
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I was home that day (a Wednesday) with the flu. I would have been home that day, anyway...having just been laid off from my job at a non-profit arts organization two days earlier. They actually had called me in from being home sick to let me know that they were laying off much of the staff, since the board had failed to reach their fundraising goals for the year, and they figured a good way to make up for that would be to get rid of most of the professional staff and run the place with volunteers for a while. (Yes, it was every bit as stupid a management decision as it sounds.) I was stunned, and angry, since I had worked myself nearly to death that season to keep things going in the absence of a co-worker who had taken an extended mental health leave. (She was one of the two employees they KEPT, ironically.) I took my stunned self home and spent the next couple of days laying on the couch, too physically and emotionally miserable to do anything else.
That was Monday afternoon. On Wednesday morning I was still on the couch. (Okay, I'd been up and down a few times--critters to care for and all, but my main focus had been the couch.) I had the TV on, and I remember Regis and Kathie Lee had just started their morning babble. Suddenly the local station broke in--there'd been an explosion in Oklahoma City. No further details were yet known. Back to regular programming only briefly, and then they cut away again. There would be no return to regular programming for some time. In some ways, there'd be no return to "regular programming" ever. A certain part of our national innocence was lost that day, I think. An even bigger part was lost on 9/11, of course...but that was the first time I remember thinking "we're not really safe anywhere." Here in the middle of the country, in the middle of the week, in the middle of the morning, people in the middle of mundane tasks suddenly lost their lives in such a senseless, horrible way. People at their desks. Senior citizens stopping by the Social Security office with their grandchildren in tow. Children at daycare. Children.
Having nowhere else to be, I was free to watch the coverage pretty much nonstop for the next couple of days. And I did. I couldn't tear myself away. It was so awful, and yet I couldn't stop watching, and crying. It made the little personal pity party I'd been having seem ridiculous, of course. I'd only lost a job. I could get another job. I hadn't lost a child, a parent, a sibling, a friend, my hearing, my skin, a limb. Just a bit of innocence.
The traditional memorial in OKC on this day is 168 seconds of silence, one for each life lost that day, followed by the reading of the names. I'll do the 168 seconds of silence here.
Rest in peace.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
1. I don't want to make you pick favorites, but, um, I guess I'm going to anyway. If your house were on fire, which critter would you grab first on your way out?
Screw 'em all--I'm grabbing the TV.
Oh, good lord, you have managed to tap into my single greatest fear, namely, how WOULD I manage to save all my animals in case of fire? This one can keep me up nights, for sure. Shudder. Okay, I couldn't possibly base this decision on the degree of affection for my animals, since I love ALL the little bastards. So let's proceed from a purely practical point of view. I'd get Pudge out of the way first, grabbing any cat I could on my way out with him, of course. Why? 'Cause Pudge is a needy, clingy thing at the best of times, and let me tell you, doing ANYthing efficiently with a clingy 86-pound dog in the house is a challenge. Once I had him safely outside, I'd dash back in and start saving cats. I have no idea how I'd actually go about doing that, of course, since they'd probably all be under the bed, and I'd likely die of smoke inhalation trying to crawl under there with them. But I'd kick out the windows and start throwing them out the best I could, I suppose.
I do actually have friends who faced this fear a few years ago. Their house caught on fire on New Year's Eve, and they happened to have, in addition to their own animals, several semi-wild kittens they were fostering and taming. The firemen kept bringing out animals and saying "Is that all?" "No." They weren't able to get all the fosters out, BUT (happy ending coming), after the fire was out they found them huddled together under a bed, scared out of their wits, but alive. I guess I will just hope for similar luck.
2. If you could do so and have no trouble paying the bills, would you sing and act full-time, or do you like the variety of having a day job? Do you know what your dream job is? (Do you know what mine is? Because I don't!) :-)
I would absolutely sing and act full-time. That would be my dream job; no day job required.
Your dream job? Hmmm....I'd like to see you travelling the world with a badge and a dictionary--the official Grammar Police, here to serve and protect! "You might want to pick up that dangling participle, sir, before I'm forced to write you a citation." Hee.
3. How long have you been a vegetarian? Why did you choose to go that route? (There are many, many good reasons, I realize. I'm curious which one was most important to you.)
I gave up red meat in the fall of 1994, poultry in the spring of 1995, and seafood in the spring of 1996. It seemed to be easier to me to go in stages--less risk of sabotaging the effort by trying too much change at once. And why? Well, I love animals, obviously, and I was increasingly bothered by the hypocrisy of letting someone do the killing I knew I would never be able to do myself. I started having trouble making that judgment between "food" animal and "pet" animal. Why are Americans so horrified at the thought of eating cats and dogs and horses, yet not bothered at all at the thought of eating pigs and cows and chickens? And the more I learned about the conditions of modern "factory" farming, the more horrified I was. If we still lived in the days when Bossie lived on the family farm, and frolicked in the fields until the day came for her to be hamburger, maybe that would be different. But those days are gone, and the animals used for food today often lead horrible lives from beginning to end, and that really, really bothers me. You can't convince me that a cow suffers any less than a dog or cat, and I certainly would never want my dogs or cats to suffer needlessly. Maybe I can't change the world, but I can change MY involvement in it, and so I did. I've never regretted it for a moment.4. What's your guiltiest pleasure?
Oh, boy. I am really, really ashamed of my fondness for VH1's Celebreality shows. I'm ashamed, and yet I watch. It could be worse, though--I could be watching Two and a Half Men, right? ;)
5. If you could pick one age to be for the rest of your life, which would it be and why?
Good question. Let's see if I can come up with an answer. The year I probably had the most sheer, unadulterated fun was 1985, particularly the summer, when I was not quite 23. But, fun aside, would I really want to be 23 forever? I don't think so. I probably looked my best from 1987-1989. Would I want to be 25, 26 or 27 forever? Again, probably not. Those weren't the best years for me emotionally. In some ways I think I've been at my best in my 40s--I think I sing better than I did when I was younger, I KNOW my acting is better--something about all those life experiences, I'm sure. I'm more myself, if that makes any sense. But do I hate that I'm starting to need reading glasses, and my hips are a bit creaky, and I can't drink much without getting a hangover? (And let's not even talk about "middle-aged spread.") Yeah, I do hate all that.
Can I have the lack of serious responsibility of my early 20s, the body of my mid 20s, and the talent and sense of self of my 40s, so far? I'll take that.
Okay, I'm done. Thanks, Stef! Good questions. If anyone else would like to take part in the challenge, just leave a comment to that effect, include your email address if I don't have it, and I'll think of some questions for you!
Monday, April 16, 2007
So, I'm back from my trip. How'd it go, you ask? Well...it was okay, I guess. Our play didn't win. We got "first alternate." Which is sort of a joke, of course, since there's no way anyone is going to decide not to go to nationals. The adjudicators raved about the acting, they loved the costumes, the directing. I was named the "queen" of enunciation by one. (Yeah, that doesn't set you up for ribbing by your friends, does it? Hee.) They didn't feel, however, that our incredibly minimalist production really set up the play the way it needed to be. I completely agree, but since that is something over which I had no control....well, I'll just say no more. We did win acting awards, both my fellow cast member and I, and we won a costume design award. Which is very funny, though also kind of cool, since we costumed ourselves from our own closets.
My pet sitters did a good job of looking after the critters. Pudge went to stay with my parents, and my mother told me he sat in a doorway and cried for the first two hours. Damn it, Pudge, break my heart, why don't you? He did get better, though he was basically my mother's shadow the whole time. She actually pulled out the hide-a-bed in the living room, so he could sleep with her, and Rosie, their cranky old chihuahua, could sleep in the bedroom with my dad. Too funny.
Poor McBeady was frightened out of his skin by both my mother and the friend who checked on the cats each day. He was inside the little "cave" where he and Dolly sleep, and neither of them realized it when they reached inside for the food bowl. Apparently the old boy can move pretty fast when he wants to. Hee. Dolly prudently watched the intruders from the safer vantage point of the yard next door. Both of them showed up for dinner last night right on time, and seemed to forgive my absence pretty quickly.
The cats inside the house were not all so forgiving. It took several minutes for most of them to come out and greet me, and it was several hours before I ever saw Timmy. Little scaredy cat! He seems back to normal today, however.
As do I. It didn't take too long to wade through the stack of stuff on my desk at work, I'm all unpacked, and sleeping in my own bed last night was surprisingly restorative. Which is a good thing, since I now have to deal with all the things I'd been putting off until I was through with the show. I need to plant flowers, and weed. I need to take my car to the shop to find the source of the strange new noise it's making. I need to wrangle McBeady into a cage and take him in to be neutered. And I need to take one of my own cats (like Dolly and McBeady aren't "mine" at this point--ha) back to the vet AGAIN to see if we can't figure out once and for all why he seems to be losing weight. (Gah. Diagnosing cats is so frustrating. We've done all these tests, which show nothing out of the ordinary, he eats like a horse and seems to feel fine, and yet he's losing weight. Double gah.)
So, there it is. And so it goes.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I had a pretty busy weekend--doing the last couple of local performances of my play before we go to Louisiana for competition this weekend, cleaning the house, doing Easter, attending a gathering of the "drink and bitch" club I was invited to join a while back. And you'd think all that would have left me ready to get some quality sleep when at last I lay me down to do so, but you'd be wrong. I've been sleeping terribly.
Part of that I will blame on the fact that I took sinus medicine right before bedtime one night, and it seemed to make me a bit restless. Lots of tossing and turning. Part of that I will blame on the fact that I actually watched a bit of "The Girls Next Door" right before bedtime one night, and the "girls" in question made a brief (and basically unmemorable) appearance in my dreams. I don't watch this show regularly, and when occasionally I happen past it and there's nothing better on, forcing me to watch for at least a few minutes, I remember why. It disturbs me, a little. I find it both a bit creepy and a bit sad.
Is it just me? Do people love this show? I guess we're supposed to be jealous, right? The men of Hef, with his bevy of blonde Barbies; the women of the girls and their supposedly lavish lifestyle. That's the point, isn't it? But I'm not the slightest bit jealous, personally. It seems so obvious that, with the possible exception of Hef and Holly, who do seem to have some feelings for each other, these are "relationships" made for the camera. The girls seem completely interchangeable with all the other groups of young "girlfriends" Hef has had in recent years. And it's not the age difference itself that bothers me, really...it's that it's starting to seem pathetic that he seems to so strongly feel the need to impress us with his virility. Okay, we get it...you're 81 and can still get the girls. You're rich. You're Hugh Hefner, you've undoubtedly got a plentiful supply of Viagra--of COURSE you can get the girls. And the girls, of course, with the possible exception of Holly, are undoubtedly in it for a boost to their "careers." And why should any of this bother me? They're all adults, and I'm certainly in no position to judge anyone's life choices. Maybe it's just that the balance of power seems nonexistent. Hef has it all. He calls all the shots. Unlike other May-December (or February-December, more like) relationships, the girls don't seem to have any...leverage. Anna Nicole, for example, seemed to some extent to have old Howard wrapped around her little finger. Not enough to actually mention her in his will, of course, but enough that the infatuated old coot gave her millions of dollars in gifts and apparently salivated like a besotted old dog any time he was around her. Catherine Zeta-Jones seems a pretty powerful partner in her relationship with Michael Douglas.
I know what it is that bothers me. It's the bedrooms. That's why I'm not jealous. Yes, they "live" in a fabulous mansion, but the only part of it they really, truly inhabit is...their bedrooms. Those pink, fluffy, perfect for a 10-year-old princess bedrooms. Shudder. It seems unsavory...living in a little girl's room except for those times you're getting it on with an 81-year-old man who doesn't truly give a fig about you. Oh well...to each their own, I suppose! And again...who am I to judge? I sleep with an 86-pound dog. (But he lurves me.) Hee.
Part of the reason I'm not sleeping well is that my mind is racing in a million different directions, trying to make sure I'm not forgetting to take care of anything before I leave town on Thursday. I'm only going to be gone for 4 days, for pete's sake, but the budding old lady in me is quite sure I'm going to forget to take care of something very important, while at the exact same time the procrastinator in me is waiting until the very last moment to actually DO things. I did manage to check a couple of things off my to-do list today, though. And I can always sleep in the van on the way there, right? (I'm not driving. If I was, sleeping in the van would be very, very bad.) I'm not nervous about the competition itself, at all. Just busy trying to tie up loose ends at work (yes, it's only two days, but there are things I do that nobody else here does) and making sure my household full of kitties will continue to function smoothly in my absence. Gah. Why did I take in all these cats again? Oh yeah, because nobody else would. Sigh. And, oh yeah, I love them. :)
Speaking of kitties, I'm sure you're all pining for a Dolly/McBeady update. Their love affair continues, growing even stronger since she's been spayed, actually. Okay, that may also have something to do with the fact that McBeady, it seems, LOVES to eat food he's not required to catch. So he's been around a LOT. (But they do act very affectionately towards each other. It's cute.) One day when I was home for lunch, he saw me from a couple of backyards away and came running--hoping for a midday snack, I assumed. Nope. He just wanted some lovin' and chin scratching. Awww. Isn't that sweet? He's still a scruffy fellow, but he's looking better. His eyes are clear and his coat is shinier. He looks like a wrestler, actually--he's got those tomcat jowls and he's getting fat rolls around his already sizeable neck. Dolly, of course, remains the beauty she's always been.
Okay, enough drivel. Things to do, people to see. (Or is it people to do, things to see? Hee.) If I don't find time to post tomorrow, I won't be here again until I'm back from my trip. Wish us luck!
Friday, April 06, 2007
In my defense, I wasn't really "playing" myself in this particular movie-like dream. And perhaps "movie" is too grand a term; it was at most a Lifetime movie, not a feature film. Also in my defense, he looked much better than my dream than he ever did in the popcorn commercials. He was, of course, much older than me, but he wasn't wearing the goofy glasses, the bow-tie or loud sports jacket, and his hair looked better. He was Morville, though, for sure (I know, I know--I don't get it, either). I was married to him in the dream, his third wife, his second wife having been a gold-digging bitch who stomped on his poor little heart. (His first wife having died, apparently. That was sort of vague.) I seemed to really love old Morville, and he was very, very sweet to me. He was also filthy rich. (Okay, that part was sort of fun.) No crazy plot twists or turns, really. We took a trip to see the house he had grown up in; we went to check out a new restaurant he was opening--nothing but desserts. Nothing but lots and lots of creamy, tasty, gooey desserts. (Okay, that part was also kind of fun.) Then it turned sad, as old Morville had a heart attack and died in my arms. (Okay, I just googled, and Morville really DID die of a heart attack, while in a hot tub. He died on my birthday, actually. That's a little freaky.)
Okay, I have a couple of theories about the cause/deeper meaning of this dream.
1. I've been posting about my grandparents, and have old people on the brain.
2. Morville dedicated his life to preventing "old maids," and the dream had something to do with my (mostly) repressed fears about ending up old and alone. The fact that the dream started with us in bed (Did I forget to mention that? It did, though it wasn't overly racy.) was some sort of cosmic joke about "popping" old maids. Hee.
What do you think?
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
My mother grew up in a small town about 50 miles from the small town where she attended college, married and eventually settled down. We made a lot of Sunday afternoon drives to see her parents--drives that seemed, to a child, to last an eternity; an eternity punctuated by overly dramatic coughing fits in an effort to get my father who smoked (and still smokes) Kools, to ROLL DOWN THE WINDOW BEFORE WE DIE BACK HERE. But eventually each drive came to an end, and we knew the end was coming when my mother announced it was time to play the water tower game. There was a very large water tower just outside that small town, and my mother could instantly transfix us (and shut us up--smart woman, my mother) by challenging us to be the first to spy the water tower on the horizon. There was no prize given in this contest, other than bragging rights and the joy of screaming "I see the water tower, I see the water tower!" sooner than your siblings. Not a joy to be discounted--I believe we were still doing it jokingly long after we were all "adults."
During our summer vacation each year, each of us kids was allowed to spend an entire week with Nanny and Papa, by ourselves. Since none of us ever did anything by ourselves, this was quite a treat. We'd do "chores" all week long, and at the end of the week, if we did a good job (and we never failed to measure up), we'd be given $5 or so and taken to the dime store for a shopping spree. (This was in the late 60s/early 70s--that was a FORTUNE.) Then on the weekend, they'd drive us back home, generally by way of one of Papa's "shortcuts" (the man knew a hundred different ways to go from Point A to Point B, many of them on unpaved country backroads, and NONE of them actual shortcuts), stopping on the way for a picnic, with plenty of fried chicken, deviled eggs, and homemade pimento cheese. Sometimes, on the deserted backroads, he'd let us sit on his lap and steer the car. Of course, as we got older, and busier with friends and other pursuits, and simply too "cool" to spend an entire week with the grandparents, the summer visits faded away. And we often begged off of the Sunday afternoon drives. Do you think if someone was able to tell you that you would someday wish for nothing more than another lazy week spent with your "uncool" grandparents, you'd be able to be less of a snotty, self-involved teenager? No, probably not, you're right. That's just the way it works. At any rate, we DID spend a lot of time with them over the years, comparatively, and I'm glad.
Papa was a big man, and a quiet man, mostly. Unless you got him started on something, and then he'd talk your ear off. He did a lot of things when he was younger that I never even knew about until his funeral--he was the auctioneer at pie suppers during WWII to raise money for the troops? Really? He was a butcher? Really? I only knew him as a service station owner (they weren't "gas stations" back then, remember...they were "service stations"). I have one of his shirts my grandmother saved, from the 50s or 60s by the looks of it, green, emblazoned with "Ted's Texaco" in red on the back, on display in my living room. We loved stopping by the station when it was open, jumping up and down on the bell that signified the arrival of a customer, and pleading for "rides" up and down on the hydraulic lift used for servicing cars. Papa was the only boy, and the youngest sibling, I believe, of several sisters, some with horrible names. Seriously: Ocia, Versie, Fludie...even for country folk those are bad! He was apparently spoiled rotten by those sisters, and led to believe that, at home, the menfolk were to be served by the womenfolk, period. I never in my life saw him even fill his own plate. Nanny filled it for him, every meal of their 62 years together. He was an avid hunter, and every year took a long trip with my uncle and some friends to Montana to go hunting. (God knows how they managed to feed themselves during those weeks!) According to my mother, when she was young he sat down at the station a lot in the evenings, drinking beer with his buddies, but he was diagnosed with diabetes when I was young, and the drinking stopped, as did the evenings out. He had played football in high school, back when they wore sweaters, and leather helmets, and barely any pads, and for years and years he never missed a high school football game, which he attended in his old letter sweater. He was quite proud when they interviewed him for the local newspaper, and ran a picture of him in said sweater. He was also quite proud of the accomplishments of his grandchildren, though we really never heard it directly. But once in college, at a performance of a musical I was in, he talked the ear off of a friend of mine seated next to him in the auditorium, pulling pictures out of his wallet to show her his talented granddaughter. I was mortified, of course, and yet touched. I mean, really...who doesn't want a grandpa who embarrasses you like that? Ordered by the doctor to get some exercise after the diabetes diagnosis, he began a ritual of twice-daily walks, making his rounds around town, checking in with store owners and old friends along the way. Then, as he aged, and walking became more difficult, he started to become slightly agoraphobic. He didn't want to do anything but sit in his recliner and do his crossword puzzles, which was infuriating to my grandmother, who was as restless and active as ever. He became even more taciturn, and it wasn't until his skin became noticeably yellow that anyone knew there was a bigger problem with his health than before. He was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer, and died just about three weeks later. I think he just gave up, and willed himself to go. It happened so quickly that my grandmother didn't quite grasp what was happening. Near the end he lapsed into unconsciousness--not quite a coma, but not far short of it--and Nanny kept commenting that he hadn't "woke up yet today." With tears in her eyes, my mother had to explain to her that he wasn't going to wake up. "Ever?" Man, oh man...how do you deal with the loss of your partner of almost 62 years? I can't even imagine. He died shortly thereafter, in 1995, at age 86, roughly. I have his shirt, some of his stubbornness and quiet tendencies, and in a drawer, some "Ted's Texaco" matchbooks.
Nanny, despite some initial "I might as well be in the coffin with him" languishing, lived quite a few more years. And quite a character, was she! She was the oldest of several children, and when her mother died in childbirth, she dropped out of school to take care of the younger children, even though she was only 12 or so herself. She was not well-educated, her grammar and spelling were poor by any standard, and it took some doing to decipher her handwriting, but she was, nonetheless, sharp as a tack. It's through her that I got my Cherokee blood, and it was quite important to her that we all get our tribal memberships. The only job she ever held outside the home was cleaning houses, and she was in quite high demand. Her "ladies," as she called them, doted on her. She had a waiting list, and if you pissed her off in any way, she'd cross you right off her list and go on to someone else. She worked for some of them for many years, and they considered "Jonesie" to be one of the family. (Her given name was Mayamma, but she hated it, and never let anyone use it. Can't say I blame her there.) It's also from her that I get my OCD tendencies--though, of course, in those days, nobody would have called it that. But she was fussy, and particular, and things had to be done just exactly her way. (The "right way," she would have said. Hee.) One of my "chores" on my summer visits was dusting her collection of glass birds, and boy, did I sweat, endeavoring to put each one of those little birds back in EXACTLY the position in which I'd found it. She was also a packrat--the woman kept everything. As children, we loved to go through her cupboards and chests. And we especially loved opening the bathroom drawers and counting the bars of soap. Yes, soap. She never had any less than 50 bars of soap at any given time. I asked her once why she had so much and she replied, "I heard once there was going to be a shortage." "When was that, Nanny, during World War II?" "Oh, hush," she replied, with a twinkle in her eye. "I might need it some day." Like many of her generation, having lived through the Depression and the war, she always worried she might not be able to get any more of whatever it was she was saving. When we moved her out of her house and into a nursing home, a few years after Papa died, we found vintage 50s nylons in her cedar chest. "Why are you keeping these?" "Well, I might need them, and not be able to afford any others." She hadn't worn a dress in years at that point, being a pantsuit gal and all, so I can't fathom the circumstances under which she might need them, but oh, did she pitch a fit when my mother insisted on throwing them out! She liked her plants and flowers outside, but they had to conform to her exacting specifications: hedges were trimmed with geometrical precision, flowerbeds had sharp borders, and she so hated stray grass and weeds that over the years she eventually completely paved over her tiny backyard with large flat rocks people found and brought her. One front flowerbed was covered in small, white decorative rocks and woe betide the grandchild who stepped on those rocks. We have hilarious home movie footage of my younger sister as a toddler, peering around cautiously for any sign of Nanny, then leaping into the flowerbed and stomping all over the rocks with a devilish look on her face. Speaking of devilish, Nanny could be quite the imp herself. Once, after an afternoon of exploring her big cedar chest full of wonders, she pressed a small jar of rose-scented perfume I had admired into my hand, instructing me to wait until we'd been on the road a while, and then pull it out and tell my mother I'd stolen it, just to see her reaction. Well, I did as instructed, but couldn't keep up the ruse very long, since my mother's reaction was, of course, extreme shock and horror. Hee. I can't smell anything rose-scented to this day without remembering that. Nanny was often lacking a social filter, and she'd say pretty much anything that came to mind, without regard to appropriateness. Once, we were out shopping (must have been my summer visit) and a man who passed us in the aisle...passed gas, to be polite. He chose the "pretend to be completely unaware of what you've done" tactic of dealing with it, but Nanny just couldn't let him escape with his dignity intact. She began cackling, "That man farted, hee hee, that man farted." I was mortified at the time, of course, whispering "Nanny, he can HEAR you!" Sure is funny remembering it now, though. She had a pretty high tolerance for the risque, for a woman of her era. She came to see every play I was in, for all the years she was physically able to, and the moments she loved best were the naughty ones. A few years after Papa died, it became clear that Nanny could no longer live alone. She didn't have the money to hire live-in help--and certainly no one would have been able to handle the job to her liking, anyway--so we had to put her in a nursing home. She was upset about it in the beginning, of course, but eventually became quite comfortable. She enjoyed all the social activities, after being so restricted at home, once she could no longer drive. The staff all loved her, cantankerous though she could be. At her funeral, the director told of his first meeting with Nanny. At that point, she was having to be restrained in her wheelchair, as otherwise she'd forget she couldn't really walk anymore and try anyway, risking a hip fracture. The director sat with her, Nanny grasping his hands tightly, as was her wont, and he read some scripture verses to her. She seemed to enjoy that, he said. He asked her if there was anything else he could do for her. Nanny grasped his hands even more tightly, and pulled him close. "Yes," she said sweetly, "GET ME OUT OF THIS DAMN THING!" Nanny loved life, she loved her family, she loved "red birds" (cardinals) and roosters and Tupperware and McDonald's Quarter Pounders and crocheting (she churned out beautiful afghans at an incredible pace); she hated fresh air and sunshine, having acquired air-conditioning relatively late in life. Being in her tiny, wood-paneled living room was like being in a cold, dark cave, and that's the way she liked it. And if you dared to suggest that the temperature inside was...oh, maybe a bit nippy, she'd quickly set you straight as to just whose house you were in! She lived to the ripe old age of 94, and died in the summer of 2003. I miss her, of course, but I feel her presence all around me. I have, in addition to some of her personality quirks: several pieces of her furniture and knick-knacks (including a ceramic rooster, of course), a number of afghans, an outdoor swing, a concrete planter, and her favorite rocking chair, which is now occupied most days by a cute orange kitty. I hope she doesn't mind too much the fine layer of kitty hair on it. She actually had a big orange kitty of her own when I was little. Punky's hair didn't linger in her house, though, oh no...she vacuumed him regularly. That's a pretty fitting summation of Nanny, for me, actually: "She vacuumed her cat."
Monday, April 02, 2007
My father was one of six children, born on a farm in western Oklahoma. When he was in high school, my grandparents gave up on farming and moved to northeastern Oklahoma. (After they moved, oil was discovered on what was their farm. If they had stayed, they would have been filthy rich. Sigh. Of course, then my father wouldn't have met my mother, so I wouldn't exist to be the granddaughter of filthy rich people, so...c'est la vie!)
Grandpa never really lost touch with the farmer inside, though. He ran a number of businesses through the years, but always had a little patch of land somewhere, always had a garden, always had a variety of animals around. (But not in the house--oh, no! Grandma put her foot down there. He was allowed to have one parakeet inside. That was her limit. But we'll get to Grandma.) I never ate a store-bought tomato or green bean in the summer--Grandpa kept us well-supplied with produce. (Oh...those tomatoes. I'm salivating just remembering them. So sweet and juicy...I've never since tasted one to compare.) He kept us supplied with animals, too. (Sometimes in the form of freshly killed and dressed rabbits--but I don't want to remember that part of it. I watched my father butcher rabbits once...and it's a wonder I waited as long as I did to become a vegetarian. Enough about that.) We had pet bunnies, and hamsters. Finches and parakeets. One year he gave both my sister and I beautiful fluffy-haired guinea pigs. She named hers Nancy. Mine was Peppy. Together they had the most fluffy calico-colored babies. Oh yes...I should mention that it was discovered, post naming, that Nancy was a boy. We never changed his name. (It did NOT seem to affect his virility. He was quite the stud.) Once we got a beautiful miniature pony! Eventually my mother put her foot down. No more animals. When I moved out of my parents' house in college, the first thing my grandfather did was ask me what kind of pet I wanted. I got a cockatiel, which, sadly, died from apparent overhandling by my friends. I felt terrible, but Grandpa didn't hold it against me, just gave me a much hardier parakeet instead. At that point he had retired, and turned the commercial building he owned into what he intended to be a small hobby pet store. Small animals--hamsters, mice, etc., and a huge walk-in aviary of parakeets in every color of the rainbow. Somehow word got around, though, that he would take in nearly any unwanted animal. Overnight, dogs would be tied to the front door or thrown over the fence, sometimes with a bag of food. He took in goats. Once he had a tame crow. He found homes for the ones he could, the others stayed. Eventually the local SPCA caught on, and helped out where they could. They didn't have an actual shelter, so his shop became it. He probably worked harder after retirement than before. Taking care of all those animals took a lot of time and energy. (Okay, is anybody still wondering where I got the stray animal gene? Didn't think so.) He was a magnet for stray people, too, and kept a big wad of cash in his pocket at all times. Good for helping out the occasional person (or granddaughter!) down on her luck. He never told Grandma about those loans, and he never really expected to be paid back. (In fact, when he died we found a note in his safe deposit box stipulating that "any debt owed to me at the time of my death by any of my children or grandchildren is to be considered paid. NO QUESTIONS.") He used to insist that I stop by the shop for birdseed for the parakeet, and when he realized that the larger the container he used, the longer it was between my visits, he started doling it out in baby food jars. Hee. He was the grandparent I was closest to, and I feel bad that in later years, after I moved out-of-town, I didn't always take the time to go see him when I went home. I guess I somehow thought he'd always be there the next time. Then one evening, he went to the shop to take care of the animals, came home, sat down at his kitchen table, and quietly died. He was in his early 80s. (So like him to take care of the animals first.) I helped to feed and water and clean up at the shop for the next couple of days, while we tried to figure out what to do with the animals, and, let me tell you, it was HARD work, even for someone young and healthy. I don't know how he did it all those years--I only know that he couldn't NOT do it. He was quite a guy. All the women of the SPCA were honorary pallbearers at his funeral. He died in 1989, and I miss him still.
Grandma may have been a farmer's wife, but she was first and foremost a lady, in every good sense of that somewhat antiquated word. I never remember her raising her voice--ever. Which seems impossible, seeing that she was for years and years a second grade teacher, but it's true! She never raised her voice, or her hand, and yet her word was law. No one ever wanted to see that slight look of disappointment in her eyes. She never said a bad word about anyone, to my knowledge, and she was the greatest mother-in-law in history. My mother's mother would never allow anyone in her kitchen or under her feet (more about Nanny later!), so my mother ended up a very young wife without the slightest clue how to run a household. Grandma kindly took her under her wing, taught her to cook and clean. And oh, how Grandma could cook! She wasn't a fancy cook--too many children, too many years on the farm for that--but her homemade noodles were legendary. And her angel food cake--it was like eating sweet, vanilla-flavored air, topped with perfect peaks of fluffy cloud-like frosting. There was usually homemade ice cream, as well--pineapple/banana was her specialty. Her house was always immaculate--she just seemed to do everything so perfectly. Need a crying baby soothed? Grandma's there. Need a loose tooth pulled? Grandma's there. Seriously, she was the best tooth-puller of all time. She'd sit the frightened, crying child ("it's going to hurt!") down, and calmly say, "I'm just going to look at it. Just look at it. Is it this one right here?" And before the child even knew what had happened, she had plucked that wiggly tooth right out of his/her mouth. Amazing. She always seemed so calm, even when all the aunts and uncles and cousins (and we were a big family) were running wild around her. Once someone let Grandpa's parakeet out of its cage during a big family gathering. (He was allowed one, remember.) Chaos ensued. The poor bird was completely freaked out, as we dashed about, shooing him this way and that. Grandma remained at the table, sitting calmly, when suddenly her hand shot straight up in the air and came down with, you guessed it, the parakeet. She plucked him out of the air, mid-flight, just as neatly as you please. She was an excellent seamstress and quilter, and made beautiful quilts for each of her granddaughters. Sadly, after Grandpa died, we realized that he had been hiding from us the fact that her memory was beginning to fail. Family dinners became bittersweet, as she asked the same questions over and over during the meal. Noticing the birthday cake on the table, she'd ask "Well, whose birthday is it?" Ten minutes later, again, "Well, whose birthday is it?" The doctors never diagnosed it as fullblown Alzheimer's, but soon it was clear that the Grandma we knew was mostly gone. We were able to hire a good-hearted woman to live with her, and she was able to stay in her home until she died in 1995, at age 85. My mother was very close to her own mother, but also had a very special relationship with her mother-in-law, and it was she who was sitting in the hospital (despite having lost her own father one week earlier--it was a bad week for my family) with Grandma, holding her hand as she passed on. She was the center of the family, the bedrock, and we've never really gotten used to her absence. I definitely inherited her chin--I hope I've gotten some of her better traits, as well!
My parents now live in my grandparents' house, with the kitchen wallpaper Grandma hung, and the beautiful rosebush Grandpa planted, and their spirits linger.
Okay, this is getting long, and I'm getting sad, so I'm going to save Nanny and Papa for the next post. (You're going to love Nanny--she was a riot!)