Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Adding Insult to Injury

I was rejected by the University of Kentucky.

Can this day be done now?

Careful What You Wish For

This morning I was frustrated that I couldn't think of a single thing to post. For the second day in a row. Other than begging for more compliments.

But the Fates intervened on my behalf---in the form of a speeding ticket. I got pulled over on my way home from lunch. I apparently/allegedly was doing 45 in a 30 zone. Oops. Now I had noticed that the Austin PD was ramping up its speed enforcement in my neighborhood. About a week ago, one of speed reader signs went up. You know, the ones that flash how fast you are going. And today a cop was sitting on his motorcycle. And he got me.

And, of course, it became an everything-goes-wrong-at-once moment. My driver's side window decided that it was no longer going to work. I didn't have my current insurance card in the car. I was half expecting that a kilo of cocaine would pop out from under the seat and I would discover that a drug cartel was using my car as a mule.

Fortunately, the police officer was very nice (and I do think that most of them are nice people and are simply doing their jobs). He knocked five mph off my speed so that I'd fall in the lowest infraction level and he gave me a pass on the insurance (which I really do have and I realized after I had pulled away that I had a bill in my purse that would have proved my current insurance).

So I guess I'll be spending my weekend watching the Defensive Driving DVD---which I had been meaning to do anyway because it would save me a little on my insurance---and taking my car to the shop to fix the unworky window. Please let it be still under warranty!

I guess I was due. My first speeding ticket and I'm almost 30. It's my second ticket in Austin; the first was a parking ticket that I got at the library when I parked in a metered spot 5 minutes before the "free parking" time and didn't have a quarter. My third ticket overall. My very first was when I was 25 and rear-ended another car.

And at least I have something to write about!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Shameless Self Promotion

Hey, my review is up!

Weekend Plans: TMI Edition

On the off chance that I have any male readers out there: You might want to skip this post.

Really, trust me on this one.

Okay, now that it’s just us girls: Yeah, it’s that time of the month. And that means one of two things for me. If it’s a good month, I spend about 48 hours feeling like I have a mild stomach flu. Yep, that’s a good month. If it’s a bad month, I spend that same time huddled on the bathroom floor, screaming “FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY, PUT ME OUT OF MY MISERY. NOW!” and wondering if there’s such a thing as an elective hysterectomy.

And, yes, I’ve seen several doctors about this and there’s nothing actually “wrong” with me. I’m just unlucky.

Having a good month depends largely on me behaving well the week prior: exercising, drinking lots of water, limiting my caffeine and sugar. You know, the stuff I should do anyway.

Fortunately, I was on mostly good behavior this week. So I just kind of feel crappy. I came into work late and I’m leaving early and I’m not even making up the hours. I’ll dip into my scanty leave time.

I’m also retaining Lake Superior and had my pajama bottoms not been coated in a inch of dog hair, I probably would have worn them to work today. I’m looking forward to getting out of the jeans that are suddenly two sizes too small and putting on something with an elastic waistband.

So tonight is going to involve me, my pajamas, a large kettle of tea, and the first 3 hours of Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. Yeah, I’m a nerd. I may also at some point drag myself to the gym because there is a tiny part of me that knows I’ll feel better after some physical activity. But that tiny part is getting the snot beat out of it by the rest of me, so . . . .

Other than that, my weekend plans including the following:

* Going for an early-morning walk with LostInTexas (weather permitting).
* Taking Rowen to the dog park. A lot.
* Finishing Strapped. Because I’m interviewing the author on Monday. Fortunately it’s an interesting book and a quick read, despite the overwhelming use of statistics.
* Making my sister’s shower gift, which I’ve supposedly been working on for the past two months.
* Seeing Transamerica with LostInTexas and Lora.
* Going to the gym on Sunday.
* Watching the second 3 hours of Joseph Campbell.
* Doing assorted chores.

Perhaps I should have titled this “Nerd Edition”

Thursday, February 23, 2006

On the Pile

Finished: The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. Loved it. Zoomed right through it, even though I kept trying to slow myself down so could savor it. I should have a review going up soon.

Now Reading: Strapped by Tamara Draut and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

On Deck: The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis (still) and The Finishing School by Muriel Spark.

Added to the Pile: Nothing! Can you believe it? A week went by without me adding a single book to my pile. I, however, have been busy sending out requests for review copies. Keeping my fingers crossed that at least a few come through so I’ll actually have something to review for my new gig as a book reviewer.

Updated: I lied. I did snag a copy of The Sea by John Banville. Not for review, just to read.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Set Phasers to Self-Destruct

So I've decided to deal with my bad mood in the least healthy, less constructive way possible*: eating and shopping.

So far, the damage has been limited: a couple of paintings from an artist on Etsy.com and a set of sparkly stitch markers from Glamscience.

And I had a cupcake for lunch. Please note, I didn't write "with" lunch. I had a cupcake FOR lunch.

Yeah, tonight's workout is gonna be fun.

*Okay, well drinking or drugging might be little less healthy and constructive, but even I have my limits. Although I wouldn't turn down a bottle of wine and some Prozac.

Calorie Amnesty Day

I'm declaring today Calorie Amnesty Day. Calories consumed today just don't count. Because, really, the only way I'm going to get through today is to have an IV of chocolate dripping directly into my veins.

I went to bed entirely too late last night because I have, once again, gotten myself sucked into meetings. Why, oh why? When I signed up to do book reviews for a local Web site, no one mentioned meetings. Nor did anyone mention that these meetings would start twenty minutes late because three-quarters of the"staff" members have no access to anything that could possibly tell time or provide directions to the meeting location and then go on forever because agendas are for losers and color commentary from the peanut gallery is required every three minutes.

So I got home at about 10.15 p.m. Which is about an hour past my bedtime. And I came home to a puppy with a severe case of cabin fever. Poor thing. The weather has been miserable since Friday, so Rowen's gotten zero exercise since Friday. I suck. I know. And I knew that I wouldn't get any peace last night unless I let her run out her energy for a few minutes at least.

I have a new neighbor and she has a new puppy---some sort of Scottish Terrier-type dog---an itty bit little thing---10 lbs at most, soaking wet---but very friendly and playful, name Tyra. Rowen and Tyra took to each other almost immediately. Tyra, of course, prefers when I have ahold of Rowen's leash so that she can jump up on Rowen rather than vice versa. Well, last night I let Rowen run free. And run she did. Back and forth like a maniac. She definitely has some greyhound in her. And ifTyra happened to be between where Rowen was and where she wanted to be . . . well, Rowen would just jump right over Tyra. Except that Rowen isn't the most coordinated of dogs. So she sometimes jumped into Tyra or onto Tyra. She did sometimes make it over Tyra, but then Tyra would get herself tied up in Rowen's leash and be dragged behind as Rowen set some new world records for the 50 m dash. To Tyra's credit, she never lost her spunk.

Rowen, however, did run off enough energy to let me sleep all night.

Today, Rowen is at the doggy day care. I haven't taken her in a while because it's expensive: both the actual cost of the day care and the vet bills for whatever Rowen picked up from the other dogs. But we're supposed to have nothing but crappy weather for another three days, so I sucked it up.

Rowen isn't the only one suffering because of the weather. If I don't see the sun soon, I'm going to need some happy pills.

So I'm tired and cranky today. And I really want to crawl back to bed with a pint of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, a bag of M&Ms, a cannister of Utz chips, and a plate of chocolate chip cookies.*

Except that I've started putting on weight. Again. Gah! Stupid metabolism. Every time I hit as high as I think I can go, I go a little bit higher.

Wow. Sorry for the downer entry.

I wonder if I could fake an illness and go home early.

*C'mon! Someone throw me a bone. Or, preferably, some free ice cream, candy, and chips.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Game On

Two more reasons to fear for your First Amendment rights:

Leonard Pitt describes a confrontation at a library in Bethesda, MD, in which two Department of Homeland Security employees tried to challenge a man's Internet use. The whole scene is straight out of Orwell: a quiet day in a tony suburb suddenly disturbed by government agents crashing in, declaring moral law, and snatching up a supposed offender. Fortunately, in this instance, a librarian intervened.

Just as scary, the Australian government is investigating a man (Henry Rollins---a musician and television celebrity---although his fame is irrelevant to the point) for reading a controversial book on a flight. Some fellow passengers got nervous when they saw Rollins reading Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia.

First, the book discusses militant Islam; it doesn't promote it. The author is a respected journalist, and the book has received rave reviews in the major press.

Second, let's stop and think logically for a moment. Terrorists aren't dumb. They are misguided, but they aren't dumb. The terrorists who attacked on Sept. 11 blended into U.S. society for quite a while (more than a year, I think, but don't quote me). They shaved their beards, donned Western clothes, and partook in typical U.S. activities. You aren't going to find a terrorist sitting on a plane reading "The Idiot's Guide to Violence and Mahem" or "Hijaking for Dummies."

Third, even thought this happened in Australia, it could happen here. I had lunch with my friend C this weekend, and she remarked on some signs she had seen at her local library---signs about the "Patriot" Act. Signs that inform patrons that the U.S. government is privy to your library records without having to show just cause. Big Brother is watching. And there really isn't a whole lot preventing Big Brother from doing a database search of everyone who's ever taken out a book on explosives. Or Eastern religions. Or civil dissent. Or social change. They can then use that information to decide that you are a terrorist threat.

Chances are, you and I probably won't be targeted. I feel fairly safe in stating that most people reading this blog are White, other either European or Hispanic descent. Most of us fall within the Judeo-Christian spectrum. Most of us wouldn't raise any red flags with the books we read or the Internet sites we visit because we have personal moral codes that disapprove of pornography and violence. We may have a few dark corners to our soul, but for the most part, we live comfortably within the norms of our society.

But what about the Middle Eastern teenager who takes out a book on explosives so he can build a volcano for his science fair project? Or the Southeast Asian man who wants to learn more about the terrorist groups that are using his homeland as a training ground? They very well could become targets for nothing more than having an exotic last name and an intellectual curiousity.

And if it could be one of them, it could also be a White woman who protests against the war, writes letters to the editor that criticize the current administration, posts antiwar and anti-Administration screeds on her Web site, and reads a wide range of books.

This is scary stuff.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Kooky Cooking & Puppy Fever: An Assortment of Thoughts

I realize that I still haven’t written about my previous misadventure in cooking---and I’m sure you are tingling with anticipation for it---but I thought I’d mention my singular ability to muddle a grilled cheese sandwich. I made one for lunch, and I managed to undercook one side, burn the other, and drip cheese all over the pan because I’m too lame to flip a sandwich. Perhaps I should stick to cereal.

We finally got the rainy weekend that I’ve been craving for months. I wanted an excuse to light a fire, snuggle under a blanket, and not do much of anything for a couple days. Rowen, as you can imagine, was less than thrilled by the lack of activity, although she did seem to enjoy the fire. She repeatedly and intently examined the fireplace because she could see the smoke rising but she couldn’t figure out where it went. Such a curious and intelligent girl!

I so want to give her a baby brother. I have some serious puppy fever. I’ve always known that I would have more than one dog---I think three would be a nice number---and throughout Rowen’s puppy years, I’ve thought that it would be nice for her to have a playmate because she’s so social and so energetic. But I told myself that I needed to wait until she was at least 2 years old and I had a backyard. A one-bedroom apartment is just too small for two energetic dogs. Right? And dogs are expensive and I’m about to be a very indebted graduate student. Right? And I often don’t have time to give Rowen the attention she needs, let alone another dog. Right? And I’ve finally gotten Rowen past the worst behaviors; I don’t want to start all over again with another dog. Right?

Except, no matter how many arguments I use to talk myself out of another dog, I still want one. Badly. I’ve been visiting some of the Austin rescue Web sites. Fortunately, I have some specifics---male, less than 6 months, mid-size, energetic and affable breed---which keep my options limited. And, so far, I haven’t fallen in love at first sight with any---like I did with Rowen. So far.

Back to the weekend: I did pull myself out into the cold for a couple lunches---one with a former coworker, one with some Austin bloggers. The latter was at Z Tejas, which I thought was a very Austin location but it turns out that it’s a chain. It, however, did originate in Austin. We each had a different type of enchilada; the waiter put in a special request for me: a catfish enchilda. They have that on their usual lunch menu, but not on the Sunday brunch menu. Phooey. But I got it and it was delicious, although I think I prefer the mushroom enchiladas. That, a glass of wine, and a big slice of warm fudge pie a la mode---plus the wonderful company---I could have stayed there all afternoon.

I also made myself go to the gym on Sunday morning, even though it was about 20 degrees out and I almost fell on the icy sidewalk and I had to chip the ice off my car windows and I had to turn around and go back to my apartment and take another route because the road I wanted to take was closed for a marathon. So I really think I ought to get double calorie points or something for that.

The rest of the weekend was spent in front of the fire, watching DVDs---including Nobody Knows, which is perfect for a rainy afternoon because it’s long and in Japanese and there isn’t much action but it’s very sweet and captivating, and Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices, which was very eye-opening. I knew some of the complaints about Walmart---that it doesn’t pay a living wage to its employees, that it discriminates against women, that it kills local business---but I had no idea how bad it really is. I will never go to Walmart again. And I may have to stop going to Target just because it’s a box store, too.

And I read The Penelopiad. Very fast read---I easily could have read it in a day, but I stretched it over two. Also very good. I’ll let you know when I get my review up.

Back to the grind. Perhaps I’ll see if I can prop Strapped on my editing desk and sneak a read.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Weekend Plans

Before I start this, I need to note that I saw the following headline today: “Men May Exaggerate Number of Sexual Partners.” Um, is this actually news to anyone?

In what amounts to real news, Austin may get some rain this weekend, for which I am grateful. Both because we need the rain and because I need a rainy weekend. I have much reading that I need---and want---to get done. I have a new (unpaid) gig writing reviews for austinist.com, and now that the review books are coming in, I need to, well, read and review them. First up: The Penelopiad and Strapped.

I toyed with the idea of leaving work early to take Rowen to the dog park to burn off energy because she’ll likely be spending the weekend indoors. But I’m, once again, behind in hours. Then I thought that perhaps I would go straight from work to the gym, but I’m feeling very lazy. Probably a narcotic effect from the approximately 237 cookies I’ve eaten today (oatmeal chocolate-chip, and I must say, they are one of the best batches I’ve made). So I’ll probably go home, maybe finish the bookmark I started making yesterday, finish the last episode of Buffy, Season 6 (when Willow finally got to be a bad ass and did it oh-so-well; Allison Hannigan makes a great evil bitch), and read in front of a cozy fireplace (lit with those special logs from the grocery store because I’m lame and can’t start a decent fire anywhere but in the microwave).

* Coming to the office for a few hours. Gah! One of the weeks, I will work all 40 hours in the five work days.
* Meeting a friend for lunch.
* Burrowing in at home for more reading in front of the fireplace.
* Working on my sister’s shower gift because the cross-stitch pattern that I’m using is in a library book that’s due back in a week.

* Going to the gym in the morning.
* Meeting the Austin blogger gals for lunch.
* Possibly talking the blogger gals into a matinee movie.
* Burrowing and cross-stitching some more.

Friends, books, a fireplace, tea, crafts, my dog . . . what else could I possibly want?

Oh yeah:

On the Pile

I have been a reading fool lately. Mostly because I’ve been on deadlines. But I’m also getting a little tired of watching so many DVDs. Buffy really should have ended with Season 5.

Finished: The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld (coming out in May; highly recommend) and Elements of Style by Wendy Wasserstein (coming out in April; light, fun, slow to start but got better in the second half)

Currently Reading: The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood and A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong

On Deck: The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Added to the Pile: I just can’t seem to leave the library empty-handed. I went last night to return a pile of books---ones I hadn’t even opened, mind you---and I couldn’t resist the urge to peruse the New Books shelves. It's just like shopping, but without the credit-card hangover!
* Sloth by Wendy Wasserstein
* God Lives in St. Petersburg and Other Stories by Tom Bissell
* Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John M. Perkins

Back on the Pile: My trip to the library also netted two books that have made an appearance on the pile before but weren’t read.
* A Problem From Hell by Samantha Power
* The Finishing School by Muriel Spark

Books and Memes

Two of my favorite things!

Taken from Doppelganger. Even though she didn’t tag me, I couldn’t resist.

1) Name five of your favorite books.

Only five?!

The Egypt Game: I loved this book growing up. It had everything I could want---ancient, mysterious cultures; a little bit of danger; lots of imagination.

The Bluest Eye: I cry every single time I read this. And I’ve read it at least 10 times.

Lady Oracle: Everything I love about Atwood. Laugh-out-loud funny, gut-wrenchingly real, with a touch of modern mythology, all centered on a strong female protagonist.

Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson: Sweet, funny, hopeful, wry, beautiful.

Anne of Green Gables: I wanted to move to Prince Edward Island and become an English teacher after reading this.

2) What was the last book you bought?

Two at the same time---my last purchases before a year of abstinence: The Tent and Life Before Man.

3) What was the last book you read?

Elements of Style by Wendy Wasserstein.

4) List five books that have been particularly meaningful to you (in no particular order).

The Crosswicks Journals: Technically four books, but I’ll count them as one. Somehow, magically, when I was reading these, when I would open the book, it would address exactly what I was going through at that moment.

The Long Loneliness: Dorothy Day is one of my heroes.

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Completely floored me.

The Noonday Demon: For the first time, I understood the depression that afflicts so many people in my family.

Amazing Grace: Wow. Just wow. Just . . . everyone in the United States needs to read this. It should be required reading in schools. Really.

5) Name three books you've been dying to read but just haven't gotten around to it?

Only three? There are so many! And, of course, my mind is going blank.

Bird by Bird
Fast Food Nation
The Spiral Staircase

I actually have all three at home. I just haven’t gotten around to reading them.

6) Tag five people and have them fill this quiz out on their own.

I’ll just tag all ya’ll.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Damn You, Bdogg!

You got me hooked again.

You Should Get an Abstract Tattoo
Artistic and uniqueYou're the most likely type to personally design your tattoo


How? Why? Huh?

I continue to be completely baffled by the Olsen Twins. I mean, yeah, they were cute on Full House and they were still cute well into their preteen years. You know, back when they acted their age, occasionally ate a sandwich, and let someone else dress them. But somewhere in the intervening years, they just became freaks. Puberty was not kind to them.

And now, they are "style icons," a term that I put absolutely no stock in, because that generally translates to an overpaid cokewhore wearing mismatched, ill-fitting overpriced rags that most of us are sober enough to realize look like crap. Who actually wants to look like these women?

Apparently somebody does, because the Olsen Freaks are in a new ad campaign:

Do you want to spend tens of thousands of dollars to look like 12-year-old vampires on crack?*

Kudos, though, to whomever fiddled with the perspective so that they don't look like the dwarves they are.

And speaking of freaks, the Best Week Ever Blog has a fantasy smackdown between two more Celebs I Can't Stand: Tom and Oprah.

*Okay, I'm digging the blue dress, even if Mary Kate does look like an 8-year-old who's been locked in her mother's closet for a month and decided to try some things on. And what is with those extensions? Gah!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

You Complete Me

I need another 3 to 5 songs to round out the following playlist:

* I Want You to Want Me - Lindsay Lohan (don't laugh!)
* After Dark - Le Tigre
* I Wanna Be Sedated - The Ramones
* Superslide - The GoGos
* Do You Want to Touch Me? - Joan Jett
* Our Lips Are Sealed - Juliet Dagger
* Are You Gonna Be My Girl? - Jet
* Sound of Love - Danko Jones
* Free as a Bird - Hanky Toast
* Ballroom Blitz - The Damned

Any suggestions?

Which random phallic object are you?

Awwww, You Guys

You know how much I love being tagged! (Why, yes, I am needy and insecure.) Bdogg tagged me on this a while ago.

Remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. Then add your blog to the bottom slot.
1) St. Peter’s Helpers
2) SFO Mom
3) Minivan Mom
4) Bdogg McGee
5) Nothing Special

Select Five People To Tag:
I think everyone on my list has already been tagged.

What Were You Doing 10 Years Ago?
I would have been in my sophomore year of college, so either studying in my room, hanging out in my boyfriend’s room, or at my internship in the university’s media relations office.

What Were You Doing A Year Ago?
Goofing off at work.

Five Snacks You Enjoy:
1. Peanut M&Ms
2. Peanut butter cups
3. Utz chips
4. Pita with hummus
5. Oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies

Five Songs You Know All The Words To:
1. Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffett
2. Let’s Get Drunk and Screw by Jimmy Buffett
3. Wide Open Spaces by Dixie Chicks
4. Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks
5. No Fear by Terri Clark

Five Things You Would Do If You Were A Millionare:
1. Pay off my credit cards
2. Pay for grad school
3. Rent a house with a backyard (I’m just not sure I’m ready for homeownership yet)
4. Take a year to write
5. Donate the money to or start my own organization to fund microloans for women in developing countries.

Five Bad Habits:
1. Procrastinating
2. Cracking my knuckles
3. Leaving dishes in the sink
4. Leaving clothes in piles instead of putting them away
5. Buying gossip magazines

Five Things You Enjoy Doing:
1. Reading
2. Watching Rowen
3. Watching movies
4. Going to the theater
5. Napping

Five Things You Will Never Wear Again:
1. Tapered-leg pants
2. Tulle
3. Pointe shoes
4. Pleats
5. Bermuda shorts

Five Favorite Toys:
1. My book caddy
2. My computer
3. Rowen’s Kong
4. Ummmmmm . . . Knitting needles?
5. Exacto knife

Monday, February 13, 2006

One of Those Weekends

Pardon me while I kvetch for a bit:

Saturday morning, I come into work to make up some hours and to use the Internet connection to file my federal student aid form. I have all my information at the ready. I go to fill out the form, and I discover that I need some special PIN to sign the form. And because it's the federal government, I have to apply for the PIN and wait three business days to get it. Grrrr.

I also need to send copies of my tax return to the university, so while I'm a work and no one else is around, I might as well make a quick copy. Quick being defined as taking more than a hour because the copier jams. Badly. Very badly. And because it's my tax form that's jammed in there, I can't really leave it for someone else to fix on Monday. I do eventually liberate the copy, but not until I've spilled half a cartridge of toner on myself and the carpet.

Thanks to the copier adventure, I've stayed much longer than I had intended and the bank is now closed. I'll have to wait until next weekend to open the savings account.

Next up: Taking Rowen to the dog park. For whatever reason, they* are landscaping the dog park, which means that the big, flat, dirt area where the dogs used to play is now covered in mulch. Here and there the mulch is dotted with wire circles protecting newly planted native plants. All of which leads me to believe that there is some plan for this park to be a doggy park no longer. Because why would you put down mulch and plant things in the middle of a dog park? As a result of this, the dogs were crowded onto a grassy slope, which makes it really hard to play fetch. So disappointment number one.

Disappointment number two: the other dogs. Some people just shouldn't bring their dogs to the park:
* Those with dogs under 3 months old. Any younger than that and the dog won't have the proper vaccinations. Why would you put your dog at risk like that? Also, at that age, most dogs just aren't ready for the rough and tumble ways of the dog park. Yes, the little puppies are cute. And, yes, you might be having fun. But is your dog? I've seen your dog, and he's not so happy.
* Those with dogs who aren't fixed. Intact males are at best annoying: Just because my dog can't get pregnant doesn't mean that it's okay for your dog to hump her. At worst, they are aggressive and mean. And if your female is unfixed, every intact male will be on her like white on rice. Which is stressful for her and for you.
* Those with aggressive dogs. Do I even need to explain this one? Well, yeah, apparently I do. I'm not talking about aggressive breeds. I've seen plenty of well-behaved, sweet-natured Rottweilers, pit bulls, and Great Danes. Rowen has played with them without incident. I've also seen mean-as-spit labs, poodles, and pugs. I don't care if your dog "just needs to run out his energy." Do it in a way that doesn't put my dog at risk. And, yeah, your dog probably does need socialization. But it should be done with proper supervision in a controlled environment. Get a clue and a trainer.
* Those with highly nervous dogs. Or who are highly nervous themselves. Dogs are, by their nature, insane. They run; they wrestle; they occasionally smash into each other with a cringe-inducing force or roll over each other as they forget that their limbs are indeed attached to their bodies and within their control. They chase each other, steal each other's toys, and sniff each other in rather instrusive places. And I'm not talking about the aggressive dogs here. These are your normal, sweet, goofy dogs. If you or your precious Princess Poo-Poo can't handle the chaos of the dog park, then please don't come. And please don't ask or expect me to discipline my dog for being a dog.

After the dog park, I was ready to call it a day. My clothes were filthy, I was tired, and nothing seemed to be going right. But A called to ask if I'd go to a movie. Okay, that seemed relaxing enough.

We decided to go to the Alamo Drafthouse, which is sort of like dinner theater except greasier food and a movie instead of a musical. As I was pulling into the parking lot, there were only a few people in line. By the time I found a spot in the hinterlands of the lot and walked to the ticket window, there was a small crowd. And the movie we wanted to see---Walk the Line---was sold out. So I called A---who was meeting me there---and we decided to see Brokeback Mountain instead. The ticket girl is assuring people that there are still tickets for BM and there's only one person in front of me. Until . . .

This guy comes around the corner and oh-so-politely pushes himself in front of the other person. From what I could gather, his wife (?) had been in line but the movie she was getting tickets for was sold out. So she got out of the line. Apparently they had then decided to see a different movie and he thought that because she had already been in the line, they should be able to go straight to the front. You know: No. Now I try to be courteous. I let people merge in traffic; if someone only has a couple of items and I have a full cart, I'll let the person go ahead of me; if there's no clear line, I always make sure that the person who was there first gets served first. But once you leave the line, you've left. You've lost your place in it. You need to go back to the end, whether it's because you didn't have a second-choice movie picked out or because you forgot to pick up pickles. Unfortunately, the person ahead of me either doesn't agree or was too flabbergasted by the guy's gall to respond. In any case, the guy jumps the line and buys his tickets. To Brokeback Mountain. And the ticket girl promptly announces: "Brokeback is now sold out." Gah!

Annoyed, but determined not to have my evening ruined, we drive to another theater where we easily get tickets to BM. And, well, I have to say, I don't see what all the hoopla is about. It's a good movie. But I never really bought the relationship between Jack and Ennis. I mean, it was like it's cold, so let's have violent sex. Guess we're in love now! Heath Ledger was excellent in his role, though, and Michelle Williams rocked. I actually did buy into their relationship. But, overall, I wasn't all that impressed. It was a good movie with nice moments and some great performances from a couple of the cast.

Sunday wasn't much better than Saturday. I started out in a flurry of good housekeeping---scrubbing the bathroom, sorting through the piles of mail and magazines and assorted miscellany, taking out bags and bags of trash. Then, as I was heading out with yet another armload of trash, I pulled on the door knob and it came off. It just fell apart. No warning.

Okay. I'm a modern woman. I can handle this. I found my screwdriver---which for some reason was in my car---and fixed it. But it had broken my stride. So I said to heck with the piles of laundry---both clean and dirty---and the carpet thick with dog hair and I took Rowen for a walk, watched a DVD, took a nap, skimmed through magazines---basically wasted the rest of the day.

Until about 7.00, when I suddenly had another urge for productivity. This time: Cooking. And because I'm planning a whole other post on my adventure in the kitchen, I'll leave it at this: I had M&Ms for dinner that night.

And so far, the week hasn't improved from the weekend.

* I have no idea who is behind this landscaping project or why they are undertaking it.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Weekend Plans

Hey, what do you know?! Winter showed up! For one day. In the middle of February. My tax return also showed up, so I’m momentarily flush. I just have to keep reminding myself that the check is already spoken for. Easy come, easy go.

Friday Evening
I’d like to say that I’m going to the gym tonight, but I may someday become a bestselling author and be on Oprah and I totally don’t want this coming back to haunt me. So most likely, I am not going to the gym. I’m going to stop on the way home for some dinner & dessert to-go and then settle under blankets while watching Oz: Season 4 and Buffy: Season 6. I’ll probably also finish The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld and make a note to tell you all to read it when it comes out in May.

Definitely: going to the dog park (Rowen is bursting at the seams with puppy power); making up hours for work; starting Elements of Style by Wendy Wasserstein (not the grammar guide); cleaning my bathroom (because, really, it’s just gross); and opening a savings account (so that the tax refund doesn’t accidentally slip from my checking account into a Sephora bag).

Possibly: painting pottery with friends and doing some shopping at this.

The usual: gym, doggy time, making up work hours (I’m really, really behind), reading, and crafting.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


One of my very favorite things: Go Fug Yourself's post-award show wrap ups.

The more Madonna tries to yoga off all her body fat and dress like she's in her 20s, the more she ends up looking like a cartoon character.

Your 80s Heartthrob Is

Jason Bateman

Brought to You by the Letter P

For procrastination.

You Are Artemis!
Brave, and a natural born leader.You're willing to fight for what you believe in...And willing to make tough decisions.Don't forget - the people around you have ideas too!

Things That Make You Go . . . WTF?

So it seems there are 986,210 words in the English language. As of Tuesday, anyway.

Mr Payack, who works for Global Language Monitor, a San Diego-based consultancy, said 20,000 new English words were registered on the company's databases last year - twice as many as a few years ago.

But here's the thing: That number includes words from Chinglish (Chinese-English), Japlish (Japanese-English), Spanglish, and other language hybrids. Should we really count those languages as English or English dialects? Or are they variations of the other language? Or are they standalone languages, with their own vocabulary and rules?

And who gets to decide what is a word? If it's in the dictionary? If it's printed in a newspaper? If someone says it in casual conversation? Is "drinktea" really an English word, or is it gobbledygook that happens to look and sound like an English word but really has no meaning in an English-language context?

What say you?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I tend to get overly emotionally invested in stories---movies, television shows, books, musicals. I've cried during almost every movie I've ever seen---including Conan the Barbarian. And I carry those emotions much past the actual experience of the story.

Tonight, I was watching Gilmore Girls and it was the episode in which both Lorelai and Rory freak about being completely overwhelmed by the work to achieve their dreams---the inn for Lorelai and Yale for Rory---and even though I'm not really in that spot right now, I've been there before. There being that place where you feel like the earth is sinking beneath you and the oxygen is rushing away. You feel completely alone and vulnerable and dark and scared and overwhelmed and you think that nothing will ever be good again.

I'm not there now, but I've been there recently, and this episode brought up all those emotions. Doesn't help that Lauren Graham acted the hell out this one. Damn, she's good!

Does this ever happen to you---watching a movie or a television show completely changes your mood?

Of course, I also was looking for a reason to procrastinate on writing because as karmic payback for mean comments about other peoples' grammar, I can no longer write a sentence that doesn't strangle itself with convoluted clauses or land with a resounding clunk.

For the Nerds

After proofreading a newsletter in which "problem solve" is used as a verb and every other word is capitalized and not being allowed to actually change those things,* I needed some good grammar humor.

*Yes, I know I split my infinitive. Thanks.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

One Word to Describe Them All

This rocks: Google is getting their own little dig in at the Bush Administration while they still can.

Go to Google and type in "asshole." Then click on "I'm feeling lucky."

And while you are at it, go search for whatever the heck you want before Bush and his cronies figure out how to rescind the First Amendment. Seriously---screw with them by looking up every so-called unpatriotic word, group, and page that you can.

Inspired by Bdogg

You Are a Carnation
You are down to earth and grounded. You tend to be more traditional than trendy.Your confidence gets you through anything.People trust you and are very loyal to you.

I GOT IN!!!!!!!!!

I Got In! I Got In! I Got In! I Got In! I Got In! I Got In! I Got In! I Got In!

I GOT IN!!!!!




I Got In! I Got In! I Got In! I Got In! I Got In! I Got In! I Got In! I Got In!

I GOT IN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay, now imagine me repeating that about 500 times in a pitch only dogs can hear while doing my very best impression of Tigger and you'll have some idea of my reaction to my acceptance letter from the University of Wisconsin.

I keep rereading the letter, not really believing in and worrying that perhaps it was all a hysterical hallucination. But the letter says the same thing every time: Congratulations!


Monday, February 06, 2006

Oops, I Did It Again

A little more than a month ago, I watched the Rose Bowl. Or at least, all but the last 10 minutes of it. And I apparently missed the best 10 minutes of college football. Ever. Not that I would have had much to compare; the Rose Bowl is the only college football game I've ever watched. But even though I'm not a fan of UT or college football in general, I was kind of bummed that I missed the action.

Fast forward to the Superbowl. I'm not much of a pro football fan, either, but the Steelers were in the game and I felt obligated as a Pennsylvanian to support them. My original plan was to leave at halftime (I was watching at my friend A's house), but the score was close and in the back of my mind, I kept thinking of the missed 10 minutes. Did I really want to be the only person in North America who didn't see the big play? Plus, I wanted to watch Grey's Anatomy after the game to find out what a Code Black is (turns out it's a very good plot twist in a very mediocre show with many, many annoying characters).

Fast forward again to the end of the game. Or, the end of the game as we were watching it. A and I are the worst sports fans. Ever. By halftime, we had taken out craft projects---knitting for me, needlepoint for her---and were paying much more attention to yarn, craft catalogs, and our puppies than to the game (have I mentioned lately how adorable Rowen is?). Every so often we would remember that there was a game on the television and realize that we had missed something important like a touchdown. Fortunately, A has one of those new fangled digital systems, so we could rewind. So by the end of the game, we were actually about 10 minutes behind real time.

Then, with two minutes of the game left to watch, A sat on the remote control, turning off the television. And although her digital thingy let us rewind and fast forward, it was not actually recording the game. When we turned the television back on, the game was over and the confetti was raining down. And we had no idea what had happened. It took a good minute for us to figure out who had won.

As far as I can tell, the last two minutes were about as uneventful as the rest of the game. Is it just me or was this a very meh Superbowl? With the exception of one conversion breakaway (look at me talking the talk!), nothing really exciting happened. The halftime show was good but unexceptional. Even the commercials were bland (except for the Sprint "crime deterrent" one---hee!).

Tangentially, I decided last night that I would make an excellent sports widow. I really wouldn't care if my man wanted to spend a whole day parked in front of the televison watching games. So long as he isn't mortified when I break out the knitting mid-game.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Weekend Plans

So I have this whole list of things that I should do this weekend: making up hours at work, reading the books I have to review, writing an op-ed on school finance, cleaning my apartment, washing my laundry, going to the gym.

Then I have this whole list of things that I want to do this weekend: sleeping, playing with crafts, reading other books, playing with Rowen, watching movies.

I’ve become addicted to the Craftster Web site, which has inspired me to work on some of my own crafts---something I haven’t done in a couple of weeks due to lack of time, lack of energy, and lack of creativity. Plus, I really have to get started on the gifts for my sister’s wedding and shower. Mind you, I’m still working on the scarf for my uncle that was supposed to be a Christmas gift. Yeah. So I’d really like to find some time this weekend do to some crafting.

The rest, well this is the tentative plan.

Friday Evening
* Buying new pajamas because the only pair that fit me died a sad death earlier in the week.
* Picking up my package IF FedEx delivers it, which they STILL haven’t. And, yes, I would like some cheese with my whine, thank you very much.
* Cleaning out the fridge. I last ordered pizza three weeks ago. Yet there is still a pizza box in the fridge. I think it might be time to do a purge.
* Going to the gym. Elliptical and weights, I think. Friday nights are usually quiet at the gym---everyone else has a life---so I can actually get on the machines that I want to use.
* Laundry.
* Knitting & DVDs. And I still have some Chunky Monkey left from earlier in the week.

* Taking Rowen for a long walk at McKinney Falls.
* Sitting in the sunshine with a book, probably on my balcony because it is way too much effort to drive somewhere, find somewhere to park, find somewhere to sit, and deal with all the other people. I miss Rome. There were the hordes of people---most of whom were yakking on cell phones incessantly---Italians are even worse than Austinites about that---but I could walk down to St. Peter’s Square or along the river to Piazza Navona with a book and a journal and just enough euros to get a panini and a glass of wine and sit for hours undisturbed. And I could have brought Rowen with me, which I can no longer do in Austin because the Austin PD has nothing better to do than kick puppies off of porches.
* Cleaning.
* Crafting in some way, shape, or form.
* Possibly going to a movie. I have a list of ones I want to see. And there’s a documentary---This Land is Your Land---about the corporate takeover of the United States---which sounds really interesting, but it’s only playing at one theater about half an hour away and starts at 9.45 p.m., which is when I’m usually getting ready for bed. Even on a Saturday. So I might just wait for it to come out on DVD.

* Gym. Cardio and weights. Sunday mornings are another quiet time at the gym, so again, I can actually do what I came to do and avoid the masses.
* Dog park.
* Work. I just can’t seem to get my 40 hours in each week. I dread coming in, so I get here later and later. And then I can’t wait to leave, so I ditch early almost every day. But then I just have to make up the hours on the weekend. Did I ever mention my gold medal in self-defeatist cycling?
* Reading.
* Writing the op-ed.
* Crafts, if I have time and energy left.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

An Ethical Dilemma

So it's no secret that I severely dislike my job. It's not the worst job in the world: the office is well ventilated, I can go to the bathroom whenever I please, the only physical danger I face is morbid obesity from the Christmas goodies. And I feel like I should be grateful: I have a job that pays me enough to live in nice but not extravagent circumstances and provides me with health insurance. I have my own office, I never work more than 40 hours in a week, and I can get away with spending most of my days doing things other than work.

I also realize that most of the reasons I don't like my job---mind-numbing work that isn't contributing to the greater good, coworkers' personality disorders, petty corporate policies---are par for the course. Leaving here doesn't necessarily mean leaving those.

But I still feel like I'm dying a little every day. I rue coming in everyday, I do just enough to keep myself from getting fired, and I will the clock to move quickly so I can go home again. In some ways, I'd rather trade the office, the 40-hour weeks, and the lack of stress for a cubicle, extra hours, and a full workload if it meant that I could care about the work.

Up until now, I've stayed at my job because
1. It pays well enough.
2. The job market is tough.
3. The flexible schedule lets me come and go as I please, so I can take care of some other things in my life.
4. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do.
5. The shame of moving back to my parents' house far outweighs the attraction of not paying rent.*
6. I have an exit strategy.

Plan A: I quit my job to go to grad school (although I may try to stay on part-time if I don't get any financial aid, which goes on the list of reasons that I've stayed here).
Plan B: If I don't get into grad school, I'll quit my job when my lease is up and move back East.

But more and more, those reasons and the hope of a light at the end of the tunnel aren't getting me through the day.

But here's my question: What are the ethics of taking a job knowing that you plan to leave it in the next 6-8 months?

There are some jobs for which this isn't an issue; some jobs have naturally high turnovers and I wouldn't feel the least bit bad about taking it on a temporary basis (store clerk, waitress [although I hope to God I never have to waitress again]). And sometimes you have to leave a job after a short time regardless of your original intentions. But I have this thing---this hesistancy---to take a position in a professional environment knowing that I only plan to stay a short time.

Am I being silly and old-fashioned? What do you think?

Mind you, I've been debating this for about six months already and will probably still be debating it in another six months, making the whole debate moot. But still . . . I'm curious what others think.

Also, at what point would it be acceptable to call FedEx and tell them that they are morons because they couldn't find my address and now my package isn't scheduled for delivery until tomorrow? Am I being unreasonable to be annoyed that my package has been IN AUSTIN for TWO DAYS and still hasn't actually made it to me and Austin is not that big of a city? Not that I'm expecting an new kidney or anything. But still . . . Harumph!

*Not that I mean to say that living with your parents' is necessarily shameful. If you are comfortable with it and have reasons that you deem legitimate, then by all means, go for it. I just can't justify for myself moving back in with my parents because I'm dissatisfied with my job and my life and I don't want to pay my own bills.

Six More Weeks of Winter

Wait---When did winter start?

So we get six more weeks of sunny, 70-degree weather? I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Bummed, Bummer, Bummy

That sort of summarizes today.

The sky is gray and overcast and spitting bits of rain here and there.

I had a tooth cavity drilled and filled this morning. It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but I absolutely hate going to the dentist even for a cleaning, so it wasn't really a great start to the day. My jaw is still kind of sore and my head hurts. The novacaine is finally wearing off so I can actually drink. I think this is a good excuse for ice cream after work.

I was supposed to get a package today---and packages are one of my absolute favorite things in the whole wide world; seriously doesn't even matter what's in the box---but some idiot at FedEx couldn't "find" my address. My address is not hard to find. It's a sprawling apartment complex, for goodness sake. Just leave the darn thing at the office if you can't locate my specific apartment (which wouldn't even do you any good because it's the middle of the day and I'm at work so you'd have to leave it at the office anyway). Supposedly it's coming tomorrow. I want my package!

So given that the weather is crappy and I'm in a crappy mood and the trainer cancelled our appointment for tonight, I need to decide whether I'm going to go to the gym to run or to take a T'ai Chi class. In either case, I am going to the gym tonight. I tried a T'ai Chi DVD earlier in the week, but it was like those fitness shows on the cable access channels---Yoga in a Chair, Fitness for the Old and Infirm---very bad, very amateur, very unintentionally funny. Maybe I'll try the class.

And then get ice cream.