Friday, March 31, 2006

Weekend Plans: The One Where I Drink a Lot of Wine, Hide in Bed, and Ponder the Big Questions of Life

And I thought buying that bottle of wine was a silly indulgence. Turns out it was rather prescient of me. Life has gone rapidly downhill in the past twenty-four hours. It started yesterday with a vague, chilling e-mail from someone I don’t know. She was asking if I knew a certain person---K---and if so, could I call her. Turns out that K had a brain aneurysm on Sunday while running a 5k. She’s in serious condition: stable but unconscious and precarious. She’s in her mid-thirties, healthy and active. She runs, bikes, and swims. She only drinks in moderation and doesn’t smoke. She does everything we’re supposed to do to live a long, healthy life. Yesterday I was freaked and sad. Today, I’m more tired and short-tempered. That could have something to do with the two glasses of wine I had last night.

Then today I had to deal with a person who . . . well, let’s just say that I can tolerate her on a good day. And today is not a good day.*

All this has filled my head with lots of questions: How am I living my life? What would be my legacy if I died tomorrow? What would I regret? How would I be remembered? If I were in the hospital, who would visit? Who would care? What kind of person am I? What do people say about me in whispers behind closed doors? The aborigines of Australia have a saying that what you most dislike about another is the thing you most dislike about yourself. What is it that I see in that person that I don’t like about myself? Why do I let her push my buttons? Where can I get some happy pills?

And so forth. Anyway . . . I’m trying to think of weekend plans to list, but all I want to do is climb back into bed.

Please keep K and her family in your prayers.

*I really wish I could vent more on this topic, but I’ve learned from others’ mistakes not to say too much about certain areas of my life.

Are We Surprised?

From Bdogg.

Tri-Lamb Material
73 % Nerd, 17% Geek, 56% Dork
For The Record:
A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored better than half in Nerd and Dork, earning you the coveted title of: Tri-Lamb Material.

The classic, "80's" nerd, you are what most people think of when they think "nerd," largely due to 80's movies like Revenge of the Nerds and TV shows like Head of the Class. You're exceptionally bright and smart, and partly because of that have never quite fit in with your peers or social groups. Perhaps you've realized, or will someday, that it is possible to retain all of the things that you like about being brilliant and still make peace with the social cliques around you. Or maybe you won't--it's really not necessary. As the brothers of Lambda Lambda Lambda discovered, you're fine just the way you are and can take pride in that. I mean, who wants to be like Ogre, right!?


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Where Is Everyone?

On the Pile

Finished: A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore. Typical Moore---absurd, clever, imaginative, dark, irreverent, and highly addictive.

Currently Reading: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. My first graphic novel. And it is excellent. I started it yesterday and zoomed right through the first hundred pages; I could not put it down. At turns wildly funny and heartbreakingly sad, it’s an autobiographical account of the author’s childhood during the Islamic revolution in Iran. The artwork is beautiful, and I’m constantly torn between turning the page to keep the story going and staying on the page to admire the art (the story usually wins, so I’ll have to go back to look at the art again when I’m finished). My only complaint is that as someone who doesn’t know Iranian history, I keep getting a little lost with the sequence of events and confused about who is good and who is bad and who is on what side of what. But that could be intentional---the author could be making the point that we in the West don’t know and understand Iran’s history and it isn’t as simple as we’d like it to be (America good, Iran bad).

Also reading Who Moved My Blackberry? by Lucy Kellaway and dipping into Jesus and Buddha: The Parallel Sayings by Marcus Borg and Ray Riegert. Borg and Riegert are Christian and Buddhist scholars, respectively, and they’ve juxtaposed the teachings of Christ and Buddha to demonstrate how nearly identical they are.

On Deck: Maus by Art Spiegelman; The Quakers in America by Thomas Hamm; and The Dead Fish Museum and Other Stories by Charles D’Ambrosio.

Added to the Pile: Another week of nothing new. Hopefully the May review books will start arriving soon. And I have a full request list at the library.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

But It's So Pretty!

I'm already over my head in credit-card debt. And I'm about to stop working and start taking on major loans for grad school. And I have no social life.

So getting a $200 date dress is probably not such a great idea.

But it's so pretty! And such a good idea: Design your own dress.

My pick: Grace with a v-neckline, sleeveless, and knee-length in the Night on the Town black floral crepe de chine.

And $200 isn't so much for a dress. Right?

Another one from BDogg.

You Have a Melancholic Temperament
Introspective and reflective, you think about everything and anything.You are a soft-hearted daydreamer. You long for your ideal life.You love silence and solitude. Everyday life is usually too chaotic for you.
Given enough time alone, it's easy for you to find inner peace.You tend to be spiritual, having found your own meaning of life.Wise and patient, you can help people through difficult times.
At your worst, you brood and sulk. Your negative thoughts can trap you.You are reserved and withdrawn. This makes it hard to connect to others.You tend to over think small things, making decisions difficult.

From BDogg.

Your Heart Is Purple
For you, love is about establishing and developing a deep connection.If it's true love, it brings you more wisdom and inner strength.
Your flirting style: Sincere
Your lucky first date: An afternoon at a tea house
Your dream lover: Is both thoughtful and expressive
What you bring to relationships: Understanding

I need to stop taking these quizzes---at least the ones that relate to romance---because all they do is remind me that
A. I haven't been on a date in almost four years.
B. That's not likely to change anytime soon.
C. I'm not nearly as okay with that as I pretend to be.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Thoughts on a Sunday Night

And posted on a Monday morning.

Have I mentioned how much I love my Old Navy pajama pants?
They are the perfect bottoms: comfy enough for sleeping and lounging but not so pajama-ish that I can’t wear them in public. And wear them in public I have. To the video store, the grocery store, the movie theater. Any day now, I’ll be wearing them to work. And not caring. Because my pajamas? They rock. I now have two pairs: black and charcoal.

Food and Wine
Every week, I say to myself, "This week, I am going to stay within my grocery budget." And every week, the gods laugh while my wallet weeps. I did it again this week. I went to Whole Foods with the best of intentions. I only needed a few things to round out what I already have. In my defense, I did need to get some staples that I only get every few months (e.g., ketchup, mayonnaise, lotion). But how did that bottle of Chardonnay get in there? I can’t remember the last time I bought a bottle of wine. And then there’s the cantaloupe. At least once a month, I buy a small container of overpriced, out-of-season cantaloupe. And every time, it gets pushed to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten until it has gone rank. Every. single. time. Really. But yet, I have this compulsion to buy the cantaloupe, even though I know its fate.

I keep forgetting to tell ya’ll about a dream I had last week. Lora and LostInTexas were in it. Lora had just moved into a new house and we were there and for some reason, her bed was in the living room. Anyway, we wanted to make vegetarian sloppy joes, but her housemate had locked herself in her room with the ingredients. Except for a can of tomato paste, which I inexplicably had and kept thrusting toward the door as we yelled at the housemate to give us the rest of the ingredients. Any theories on this one?

Have I told you how much I hate Sydney Bristow? And not just because she gets to cuddle with Will Tippin when she's having a bad day, although that's certainly part of it. It's her perfect hair, which is always in these supercute styles that I can never replicate, and her perfect stomach, which even if I did crunches from now until doomsday, I will never have, and her pert butt, which even if I did lunges from now until the day after doomsday, I will never have. And it's that even though she's obnoxious, self-centered, and clingy, everyone loves her. Except me.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Weekend Plans: The End of the Committee

Yep. That’s right. This weekend marks the end of my committee commitment. After the hunger banquet on Saturday, I am getting myself off that committee. No more listening to me whine about well-meaning but overbearing church ladies and meetings that serve no purpose but to annoy me. Like the one last night, where we were supposed to have a “dress rehearsal,” but no one could figure out the sound system and the Chair spent entirely too long explaining the list of duties needed during the banquet and then getting volunteers for the duties (never heard of a sign-up sheet?) and then deciding that we wouldn’t assign duties ahead of time, we’ll just figure it out as we go. No more of that! But I’m still committed for this weekend.

I really should go to the gym. I haven’t been since last Friday. And I’m bloated. And I ate way too many cookies this week (really yummy oatmeal, chocolate-chip cookies). But . . . I have to finish making posters for the hunger banquet. And I’ve been really tired all week, so I’m looking forward to getting into my jammies, making a cup of tea, and reading A Dirty Job, which totally has me hooked after 30 pages. Damn you, Christopher Moore!


Up early to get the car to the garage for it’s maintenance. Then taking Rowen out to the park. And after that: Hunger Banquet! Setting up for the banquet, sitting around twiddling my thumbs, trying to look busy, trying not to visibly roll my eyes at anyone, helping at the banquet, cleaning up after the banquet, and escaping as soon as humanly possible (Rowen always makes a handy excuse for this---her bladder can only hold for so long, after all---and really our committee is large enough that we should have assigned set up and tear down crews but what do I know anyway).

I don’t even know. My brain won’t allow me to see past the hunger banquet. I’m sure it will involve some combination of reading, crafting, puppy time, and naps.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

On the Pile

Finished: U.S.! by Chris Bachelder. Excellent, if you start on p. 200. Otherwise, a bit rambling, self-indulgent, redundant, and heavy handed with smatterings of wit and inventiveness.

Currently Reading: A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore.

On Deck: Who Moved My Blackberry? by Lucy Kellaway. Also a very large stack of library books that probably won't be read before they are due back.

Added to the Pile: No new review books arrived in the past week, so I had to return to the library for my fix. I'm dipping a toe into graphic novels; as usual, I'm two years behind the trend. I'm also doing a little spiritual investigation because I'm not so sure I want to be a Catholic anymore.

Fray by Joss Whedon, Andy Owens, and Karl Moline
Maus by Art Spiegelman
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
The Quakers in America by Thomas Hamm

I've also been on a bit of a magazine binge lately, picking up the latest Ode, ReadyMade, Rachel Ray Everyday, Ploughshares, Granta, and Oxford Review, as well as some tabloids to go with the banana pudding last week. I just can't properly mope without good gossip.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


I'm sorry. You're getting more blog quizzes. Because I've got nothing. Unless you want to hear my whine about my gut. And, yes, I now officially have a gut. It's no longer a pouch, a belly, or even a roll. It's a gut. It forces my my pants down to my hips and rolls itself over my waistband like I'm a 50-year-old, beer-swillin' man.

Or I could tell you the misadventures of lunch, because I'm sure you'd be thrilled to no end to find out that I went to the library to pick up the three books I had on reserve (all graphic novels---and no, I don't mean like that, Bearette, you have a dirty mind---my first foray into that genre) and then I got stuck waiting for the world's longest train to pass by and then I saw a dog that was obviously lost because I don't really think he (?) lives in the middle of the road or even really meant to be there. Another driver managed to shoo him safely to the side of the road but then took off, so I did a u-turn to see if I could get him in my car (I could see that he had tags), but he was gone. I drove around the neighborhood once just to check for him, but he had disappeared and now I feel bad that I didn't react more quickly. I looked again on my way back to work but he was gone.

So instead of all that, I'm giving you more blog quizzes. Sorry.

Your Monster Profile
Mad Vagabond
You Feast On: Fried Twinkies
You Lurk Around In: The Empire State Building
You Especially Like to Torment: Hicks

You Are a Boston Creme Donut
You have a tough exterior. No one wants to mess with you.But on the inside, you're a total pushover and completely soft.You're a traditionalist, and you don't change easily.You're likely to eat the same doughnut every morning, and pout if it's sold out.

You Are Chubby Hubby Ice Cream
So there's more of you to love... a whole lot more!

Okay, so that last one? So not funny.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Our Coward in Chief

Bush Commits Troops Until 2008

President Bush said Tuesday that American forces will remain in Iraq for years and it will be up to a future president to decide when to bring them all home. Full Story

So Bush makes the mess and then leaves it for someone else to clean up.


Four Months Notice

Gave my notice at work. Waahoo!

Now I'm just waiting for my boss to tell the rest of the department so I can stop whispering and worrying about accidentally saying something in the hallway or whatever.

I made cookies for the occasion: Chocolate-chip oatmeal. Yum. I'm loving the Rapunzel chocolate chips, even though they are twice as expensive as regular baking chips. But they are fair trade and organic. It's worth the extra couple bucks to know that no children were enslaved in the making of my cookies.

I've been trying the past couple years to be a more conscientious consumer---buying fair-trade and organic products, picking items with the least amount of packaging or the most recycled content in the packaging, supporting companies that have positive business practices and avoiding those that don't. It's certainly made grocery shopping more complicated; I never realized how many types of milk there are. I used to reach in for the least expensive major brand.

It's also been a shock to my wallet to realize how much things---particularly food, but also clothes---really cost when the workers receive fair wages, when the manufacturing process is environmentally friendly and sustainable, when the companies hold themselves to ethical standards. And I'm so tempted sometimes to grab for the Kraft Mac & Cheese, even though it's made by a tobacco company and it contains absolutely no ingredients found in nature. But it's cheap and familiar. And I'm still not very good about buying local produce or selecting eco-friendly fish.

Anyway, I'm not sure how I got on this topic. But I'm going to add another nonsequitor. I've posted a few times about my friend Gina, who is an amazing singer and occasionally performs in Austin. She now has a My Space page. Go visit and listen to her sing.

Monday, March 20, 2006

I'm Inclined to Agree

You Are Scooter
Brainy and knowledgable, you are the perfect sidekick.You're always willing to lend a helping hand. In any big event or party, you're the one who keeps things going."15 seconds to showtime!"

I'm Inclined to Disagree

You Are Austin
A little bit country, a little bit rock and roll.You're totally weird and very proud of it.Artistic and freaky, you still seem to fit in... in your own strange way.
Famous Austin residents: Lance Armstrong, Sandra Bullock, Andy Roddick

Yep, It's Monday

You Are Heineken
You appreciate a good beer, but you're not a snob about it.You like your beer mild and easy to drink, so you can concentrate on being drunk.Overall, you're a friendly drunk who's likely to buy a whole round for your friends... many times.Sometimes you can be a bit boring when you drink. You may be prone to go on about topics no one cares about.

Don'tcha Hate It When

Don't you hate it when the weather is miserable all weekend and then glorious on Monday?

When you realize halfway to work that you missed several large patches of hair on your legs?

When, a minute later, you also realize that your sweatshirt is covered in dog hair and kind of smells funny?

When you get to work and realize that you have either mud or dog poop on your shoes?

When you show up for your weekly staff meeting completely unprepared?

When you realize that what you want to do in an evening and what you have time to do are two very different things?

When you have exciting news and you have to keep it quiet?

When you are ready to go but you can't leave yet?

When you step out of your car at the gas station and a gust of wind blows a waterfall off of the covering and onto your head?

When you can't sit still but you have no place to go?

When you have the DVDs to return to the store sitting in your car but forget to stop every time you pass the store?

When you eat your afternoon snack too early and are snacky again with an hour left to go at work?

I Pity the Fool

Oh wait. I AM the fool.

You Are The Fool
You are a fascinating person who is way beyond the concerns of this world.Young at heart, you are blissfully unaware of any dangers ahead.You are a true wanderer - it has be difficult finding your place in this world.Full of confidence, you are likely to take a leap of faith.
Your fortune:
You are about to embark on a new phase in your life.This may mean changing locations, jobs, friends, or love status.You are open about what the future will bring, and free of worry.You have made your peace with fate, and you're ready to start down your new path.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Weekend Plans: The One Where Ms. Crankypants Takes a Chill Pill

I flipped someone off today. Twice. The same person. I wasn’t sure that he saw me the first time and wanted to make sure he knew that he was a jerk. So, yeah, I’m thinking that I really need to decompress this weekend.

Yet again, I should go to the gym. I like the gym on Friday nights. I can get the machines I want when I want them. But I’m so tired. Maybe I will go and just do the elliptical and some weights. Then I’ll eat the soup that I was supposed to take to a church dinner tonight but am not going to because I’m lazy and I’m behind on work hours. And then lay in bed to read tabloids and watch Alias on DVD.

* Work. I’m not going to be able to make up all the hours I missed this week---some will have to come out of my leave time---but I’d like to shave off a few.
* Reading. I have a review of U.S.! due next week.
* Making posters for the church hunger banquet.
* Playing with Rowen.
* Selling tickets for the church hunger banquet.
* Seeing my friend G sing at La Tazza Fresca (35th and Guadalupe, for the Austin folks)

* More gyming.
* More reading.
* More playing with Rowen.
* Finally watching Failure to Launch. Hopefully with S, so I can have sangria and not feel like a loser for drinking alone.
* Dealing with my mother (by phone).
* Deciding when I’m leaving Austin.
* Going to bed very early.

At some point this weekend, I also should probably deal with the towering pile of dishes in my sink, the past-its-prime mess in the fridge, and the overdue bills.

On the Pile

Finished: Nothing. Between the Skirt and the Rejection, I haven’t gotten much reading done in the past week.

Now Reading: U.S.!* Still. See above. Although some of the blame also falls on the writer for writing a not-very-engaging book so that I’m sort of confused and bored most of the time. Also reading The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, & Broke. I managed to get past my initial resistance to the cover---Orman trying way too hard to prove that she’s still hip with her overly highlighted hair and oh-so-fun pose. Could someone tell her that the young and fabulous stopped flipping up their collars in 1992? (FYI: The pose in the YF&B section of her Web site is even more obnoxious. And if Blogger didn't suck, I would link to it.) Her advice seems mostly solid, although I do question the wisdom of paying down your credit cards before starting a savings account. I get her reasoning: that it doesn't make any sense to have money making a 1 or 2 percent return when you are paying 18 percent or more on the cards. And if you've got several thousand dollars in savings, yeah, you probably want to use some of that to pay down your balances. But you also want to have something in the bank so you won't have to keep pulling out the cards every time you have an unexpected expense. Seems like there ought to be some kind of balance. I am glad that she acknowledges the reality of being a 20-something in the new millennium---that most of us are saddled with debt from the moment we graduate, that our paychecks barely cover food and rent and sometimes not even that. But I really wish she would stop writing down to us. If we’re reading a book on financial planning, chances are that we’re (a) literate, (b) somewhat intelligent, and (c) not twelve years old. We are perfectly capable of reading a well-written, general audience book on money. She keeps focusing too much on the “young” part of young adult and forgets that we are, indeed, adults.

I’ve also been dipping into The Dog of the Marriage** by Amy Hempel, but had to return it to the library before I finished. What I did read of it was very good. Perfectly formed short stories that managed to capture the human experience in ordinary moments.

On Deck: A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore;

Added to the Pile: Who Moved My Blackberry? by Lucy Kellaway; The Dead Fish Museum: Stories by Charles D’Ambrosio; and The New Single Woman by E. Kay Trimberger.

*Sorry for the lack of links in today's post. I had a whole post done, with lots of happy links, and then Blogger f'ed up.
**I misremembered the title as The Dog of the Family and spent a good half hour trying to find a link for it and getting increasingly aggitated that I couldn't find a book that I knew I had read. I really shouldn't have gotten out of bed today.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Can You Feel the Love?

I can! Thanks to all of you for being so supportive and wonderful during the craziness that was grad school applications. It's finally over, and I'm going to Wisconsin. Which is a good school. And I've heard great things about Madison. And now I have an excuse to buy a cute wool peacoat and knit more scarves.

I'm absolutely exhausted today. I surprised even myself with how upset I got about the UT decision. With a slightly clearer head, I can see that it wasn't really about not getting into UT---or at least, not entirely about that. It was the ego blow of getting rejected by two schools at a time when I'm already feeling lousy about myself. And it was the frustration of finally feeling that I'm settled in Austin and then having to leave, a feeling I've had too many times before. I'll hate, hate, hate a place (Paris) or a situation (teaching), and I'll decide to leave---only to hit my groove right before it's time to go and wish I had hung on for just a little longer. And it was the stress and fear of having to start all over. Again. And it was the release of nine months of nervous energy.

So I spent yesterday eating way too many cookies while laying in bed and watching DVDs. I thought about taking today off, but decided I'd better get my butt into work. As it is, I'm 8 hours behind this week. And I may leave early today and tomorrow. Fortunately, I came up with a good "sick" story---cluster migraines---that sets me up for an easy out if I need to go home and lets me take it easy while I am at work. And it's not entirely untrue. I have been having some nasty headaches for the past five days, mostly from tension.

Anyway, grad school is decided. I'm going to Wisconsin. Go Badgers!

Now, onto my next decision: Do I stay in Austin until the end of the summer or go to live with my parents when my lease is up in June? I'm working on a pro/con list. I'll post it later today.

Go Badgers!

Meet Bucky.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Madison or Bust

Well, I have my answer. REJECTED.

This Killing Time . . .

Is killing me!

I am such a bundle of nerves. I'm not sure if I want to cry or throw up or both. I should hear from UT any day now. The nice woman with whom I spoke last week assured me that the letters were going out today. She also told me that I could check the Web site today for my application status, but she lied about that.

I never thought I'd say this, but I really don't want to leave Austin.* It took a while, but I'm finally starting to feel at home here. And I've finally made some amazing friends.

Plus, I don't know if my ego can handle being rejected by another school. What happened to the good ol' days when I was smart and schools were actually offering me incentives to apply? I never thought I'd say this again, either, but I wish I were 18 again and knew, without a doubt, that I was smart and talented.

And, of course, the niggling doubts about whether I'm doing the right thing have popped up again: Should I be going to library school instead?

Seriously, if I get through today without having a heart attack or bursting into tears, I will consider it a major success.

*Check with me again when we're in our umpteenth week of 100+ degree, 99% humidity weather.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ranting, Raving, & Whining

I'm having serious anger management issues today.

Everyone is pissing me off---from the guy who nearly caused an accident this morning because he thought my turn signal meant for him to speed up and refuse either to yield or to change lanes until the last possible second because I really wanted to start my day with an anxiety attack to the idiot in the way-too-big you-aren't-fooling-anyone truck who thought that he was entitled to both turning lanes to the beeyotch at the gas station who was too busy yakking on her cell phone to notice the line of people waiting for the pump.

Oh yeah, and the coworker who physically pushed through me to get somewhere and then totally interrupted a conversation and didn't bother to say "sorry" or "excuse me" for either offense.

And can I just tell you how much I hate Austin library's new online system? On the old system, I had to enter my account number and PIN once and then could do almost everyone from one screen---check due dates and renewal availability, renew items, request items, etc. With the new system, I have to go to a different screen for every different action and re-enter my account number and PIN every time. And, like today, I went to check whether I could renew some books. So I went to the renewal screen. And it said I could renew those books. But then after I had selected them and hit "renew," it told me that I couldn't renew them again. Stupid system.

The combination of the anger and the anxiety have completed wiped me out. BUT I still have to go to my church committee meeting tonight---and we all know how I feel about that. AND, stupid masochistic me, I offered to stuff goody bags for another group (not church-related) AFTER the church meeting. So I'll be getting home tonight around, oh, midnight.

I think I may be calling out tomorrow morning with a "tummy ache." Because, really, all I want to do right now is crawl into bed with a book and a pint of ice cream and not come out for a couple days. And if it weren't for my sister's wedding---and the fact that I need at least a week of vacation time for the shower and wedding---I would totally do just that.

You Are Teal Green
You are a one of a kind, original person. There's no one even close to being like you.Expressive and creative, you have a knack for making the impossible possible.While you are a bit offbeat, you don't scare people away with your quirks.Your warm personality nicely counteracts and strange habits you may have.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Weekend Plans: Extreme Makeover Edition

This is when I’m glad that I have some barriers between my blog life and my real life. Because I can kvetch to all of you without certain other people knowing.

Here’s the thing: Last week, I mentioned to my friend A that I might go to a couple of parties loosely tied into a certain festival here. The operative word being *might.*

Because of the weight that I’ve gained over the past year, I don’t fit into any of my cute party-type clothes. So A kindly offered to make something for me. I thought, “Great. We’ll make a simple A-line skirt so that I’ll have something to wear. And it’ll cost a little less than buying something.”

So now here’s the part where I start to sound totally ungrateful. One simple skirt turned into two not-so-simple skirts. And getting a cute outfit for a party has turned into a total, all-encompassing, all-consuming, and rather expensive judgment of who I am.

As most of you know---or could easily figure out from reading this blog---I’m not a party girl. At all. And I’ve (mostly) made my peace with it. I’ve (mostly) gotten over the idea that being 20-something means that I have to spend my Saturday nights crammed into noisy, smoky bars in a desperate attempt to find a man or that I have to dress or act in a certain way. But I do like music and drinking and dancing and occasionally I do try to step outside of my comfort zone.

I see a difference, though, between stepping outside of my comfort zone and trying to become something I’m not.

But A has this “vision” of who I should be, and she thinks that with the right clothes, I’ll magically become that person. She thinks that if I wear a hot pink skirt and a tight, cleavage-baring top, I’ll morph into an outgoing, confident hipster. Instead I’m starting to become resentful and uncomfortable. I’m starting to feel worse about myself.

I’ve tried sticking up for myself, but A then tells me that I’m making her “feel bad,” as if my not wanting to conform to her “vision” is an insult. I’ve tried telling her that I think the skirts are beautiful but that they just aren’t “me.” Sort of like how you can admire a dress in a fashion magazine but know that you would never wear it even if you did look like a supermodel. She gets even more insulted.

What little desire I did have to go to these parties is quickly dissipating as I feel bullied into going and into dressing how someone else thinks I should.

So I have a conundrum this weekend: The material is bought and A has already put a lot of time and effort into these skirts. So I’d feel bad about backing out entirely. But I also don’t want to spend my entire weekend being made over---getting fitted for the skirts, shopping for tops and shoes, being told how to wear my hair and do my makeup. I don’t want to spend my weekend being made to feel bad about who I am.

I think we all know what I’ll wind up doing: I’ll spend the weekend being made over and then tuck the skirts deep into my closet. The skirts are very cute. I’m just not in a place where I’m comfortable wearing them. Maybe someday I will be. But it’s going to be when I’m ready, not when someone bullies me into it.

I really wish I had a spine.

Anyway, so I’ll be spending the rest of today dreading the weekend. And repeatedly (obsessively) checking to see if my latest book review gets any comments (because even in a hot pink skirt, I’m still needy and insecure). And when I’m not having my makeover, I’ll be proofing a journal, taking Rowen to the park, reading in various locations, and watching my imaginary boyfriend’s new movie. I may also get furloughed to have lunch with some of the blogger gals.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

On the Pile

Finished: Without You by Anthony Rapp. I should have a review up tomorrow---if I can get this massive block out of my brain. Every lede I try is coming out too cutesy or too trite. In a nutshell, the content was mostly very good---candid, true, emotionally raw---but the writing was lazy and dilettantish.

Now Reading: U.S.! by Chris Balchelder. Also still reading The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom.

On Deck: I keep shuffling this pile as new review books come in. Right now, it’s A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore, The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis, and A Map of Glass by Jane Urquhart.

Added to the Pile: Lion’s Honey by David Grossman just arrived this morning and The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, & Broke by Suze Orman is waiting for me at the library (thanks to Frema for the recommendation).

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

I Am So Not Checking My Mail Today

Not the best start to a day.

And it had so much promise. I'm feeling completely swamped this week---with fittings for the skirts, writing a book review, living and breathing, and reinventing myself for the parties that I'm pretty sure I don't even want to go to and have let myself get pushed into---what can I say? I've gotten really used to my lazy schedule of coming home after work and not having anything I have to do---so I took a couple "personal" hours this morning to go to the grocery store and whip up some cookie batter to bake tonight as A fits me for the skirts.

On the way to the grocery store, some jerk in an oversized SUV decides that he wants to go straight, even though he's in the left-turn-only lane. I'm to the right of him and also in a left-turn lane. With my blinker on, clearly indicating my intent to indeed turn left. Regardless of all these facts, he gunned it straight through. If I had been just a second or two faster on my turn, I'd be typing this from a hospital bed.

I get to the grocery store, shaken but safe, and things seem to be looking up. Let me tell ya---9.00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning is the time to grocery shop. Then or about 9 p.m. on a Saturday night. I buzz through my shopping, get checked out, go to pay---and get told that my card was declined. Now, I know I had my little shopping binge this past weekend. But no way did I burn through a whole paycheck. Turns out that I don't shop nearly often enough---my recent purchases were "unusual" for my account so the bank put a security lock on it. You know, it'd be kind of nice if they would give you a call when they do that, rather than letting you find out the next time you're at the grocery store.

Things seem to be improving. A bit. But I'm keeping an eye to the sky for anvils. And I am not checking my mail.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Why I Won't Be Eating This Month

Ask and you shall receive . . . .

I know---I'm such a trendsetter! Really taking the bold risks with my wardrobe. Anna Wintour only wishes she were me.

I also went with my friend A to the fabric store last night. She's making me two party skirts on the off chance that I get my lazy, introverted butt out to a couple of SXSW* parties next week. One will be knee-length black satin with silver piping; the other is a bright pink mini with this crazy, very mod orange and pink trim at the waist. I'll post pictures when the skirts are finished.

I guess I finally got tired of wearing the same two skirts and two pairs of pants and t-shirts and refusing to buy anything nice that also fits because I wanted to wait until I lost some weight. I'm just going to love me at my current weight (or try to anyway)---even if my mother doesn't---and look as good as I can. Because I realized that I was hitting myself with a double whammy---I don't feel good about myself at this weight so I don't dress well or bother with my appearance much at all, and then I feel even worse about myself because I'm always wearing unflattering, unappealing clothes.

Or at least that's what I'm going to tell myself to justify my little spending spree.

Now I'm on the hunt for some fierce knee-high boots that will actually fit over my calves.

* A music and movie festival in Austin, where we prove how weird and indie we are by paying hundreds of dollars to watch garage bands in dirty bars. I'm going to a couple of free parties. Maybe.

What Have I Done?

I think I may have just spent this month's grocery money---and possibly some of next month's as well---on a little clothing spree.


Monday, March 06, 2006

You Take the Good, You Take the Bad

You take them both and there you have . . .

The Oscar Dresses!

Yeah, I know. Another lame lede. And now I can't get the darn song out of my head. But at least it's replaced the Rent medley that's been stuck in there for three days.

Okay, where were we?

Yes---the dresses. And, yes, I know it's unfair and probably sexist that the women get subjected to such intense scrutiny, but there just isn't that much to say about the men. You have to work very hard---or be Tim Burton---to screw up a tux. Any man---except Tim Burton---and maybe Johnny Depp---looks good in a tux. And, well, these women are both highly paid and genetically blessed. If they can't show up looking at least passably pretty, then they have no one but themselves to blame when they get criticized.

But, in the spirit of celebrating womanhood, let's start with the good.

Reese. Does Reese ever look bad? I mean really. I read the tabloids. I see the pictures of her running her kids to school or having a post-gym coffee. And she never looks bad. Dunst, Gyllenhaal, Olsen Twins---You have no excuse for the crimes of fashion you commit on a daily basis. Reese has two kids and a successful film career and she still manages to dress in matching clothes that fit her and even brushes her hair. So am I at all surprised that she looked fabulous at the Oscars? No, I am not.

My other favorite from the red carpet is another perennially stylish woman: Jada Pinkett Smith. I love the blue. I love the style. I covet her arms.

Honorable mentions go to the beautiful and fabulous Queen Latifah; the hit-or-miss but this time a hit Salma Hayek, who was also rocking the blue; and Ziyi Zhang, who I really think would look good in a paper sack but still makes the effort to find a gorgeous dress.

And, well, that's about it for the well-dressed gals. The rest of you? Seriously. You have money. You have good genes. You have a small army of people who exist solely to make you look good. And you have about 80 years of red carpet history from which you should have learned. What is your excuse?

Let's start with Naomi Watts. Because I think that she needs to ask Santa to bring her a mirror. She took color coordination to a whole new and very bad level: her hair, skin, and dress all match. She wasn't the only one. There was a definite trend of pale women wearing equally pale dresses. Nicole Kidman looked like the Corpse Bride. But Naomi took bad one step further by balling up the discarded fabric from the dress fittings and pasting it to her chest. So it was both an ugly dress and an unflattering color.

Next: Kiera Knightley. She also represents an ugly trend that must die: Pretty young girls dressing 20 years older than their age. Kiera, sweetie, you are a pretty young girl. So why are you wearing Melanie Griffith's dress from 1987? And your hairdresser. Needs to be fired. That hair color. Not so good on you.

Charlize Theron has been widely discussed (The bow! The bow!), so we'll move on to Amy Adams. Where do I start? The garish color? The awful stripes? The weird cut? How about that thing on the back that looks like she stuck a Hefty lawn bag to her butt?

And Catherine Keener. Do you get the feeling that she forgot that she had to go to the Oscars? And that she sort of rolled out of bed, rushed over to David's Bridal, picked something off the clearance rack, and changed in the limo.

Finally, for any aspiring starlets, I'd like to offer a lesson in color:

Good Yellow

Bad Yellow

Mood: Foul

Foul, foul, foul! I am beyond cranky today. And not just because my Oscar predictions were way off base (although they were; see below). I can't explain my foul mood. I had a great day yesterday. Although I could have done without the third degree from my mother on why I was going to grad school and why I chose anthropology and why I picked the three schools that I applied to. The question I have: Why do I keep having these conversations with my mother? Why can't I stand up to her to say, "I'm an adult. I've made my decision. You can support it or not. But I don't need to justify it to you and I don't need your approval." Why?

At least I have Oscar fug to look forward to. And, wow, the fug came out to play last night! Sandra, Amy, Michelle, Charlize---I'm talking to you. Pick yourself up a copy of the new People Style magazine. The one with Reese on the cover. Because Reese? Always looks fabulous.

My Oscar Scoreboard: 4 correct out of 18 categories. * marks the ones I got right.

Best Picture: Crash
Best Director: Ang Lee*
Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman
Best Actress: Reese Witherspoon*
Best Supporting Actor: George Clooney
Best Supporting Actress: Rachel Weisz
Original Screenplay: Crash
Adapted Screenplay: Brokeback Mountain
Best Animated Feature: Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit*
Best Foreign-Language Film: Tsotsi
Art Direction: Memoirs of a Geisha*
Cinematography: Memoirs of a Geisha
Costume Design: Memoirs of a Geisha
Documentary Feature: March of the Penguins
Film Editing: Crash
Makeup: The Chronicles of Narnia*
Original Score: Brokeback Mountain
Original Song: It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp (Hustle & Flow)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Weekend Plans: Too Much of a Good Thing

This is shaping up to be one of those weekends where I have so many options for things to do that I become paralyzed by the choices and therefore do nothing. So I’ll either do nothing or do some combination of the following:

* Go the gym.
* Take Rowen for a walk at McKinney Falls.
* Read Without You. I'm not sure how I feel about this one yet. It's one of those books that I really want to like and feel bad about not liking because the author is so likable but it just isn't that great of a book.
* Work on any number of crafts that I’ve meant to do, started to do, or nearly finished.
* Pay bills.
* Go to Staple: Independent Media Expo. I’m on the fence about this because I’m not at all interested in comics or graphic novels, which seem to be the focus of the expo. But I’d like to pick up some of the zines and get to know some people in independent publishing here in Austin. * Watch a friend’s cousin play basketball.
* Finish watching Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth. The first three hours were amazing. Seriously, don’t get me started talking about it. So interesting!
* Go to an apartment painting party.
* Watch Noam Chomsky: Distorted Morality.
* Fret about not hearing from UT/Have a pity party because I didn’t get into UT/Jump up and down and tell everyone within a 500-mile radius that I go into UT.
* Clean my bathroom.
* Vacuum.
* Do laundry.
* Take Rowen to the groomer. She’s a stinker right now.
* Play at the dog park and then hang out at Mozart’s afterward because Austin just made it legal to have dogs on restaurant patios! Yeah for Austin!
* Sell tickets for the hunger banquet. Try not to lose my patience with the committee chair.
* Proofread a journal because I’m behind on hours. Again.
* Enjoy that Austin has 70-degree weather in March because it’s only 30 degrees in Madison.

I’m sort of leaning towards the nothing side of things. Well, except for the laundry. That really, really needs to get done.

My Hot Dog Has a First Name

It’s O-s-c-a-r.

And it also happens to be that time of the year.* Here are my predictions for the Oscars on Sunday (in bold). I’m totally guessing on most of them because I’ve only seen a handful of the nominated movies. Tell me your picks---who deserves the award, who will get it---in the comments!

Best Picture
Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck

Not that I think it deserves it. But neither Walk the Line nor The 40-Year-Old Virgin were nominated, so . . .

Best Actor
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow
Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line
David Strathairn, Good Night, and Good Luck

I liked Walk the Line better as a movie, but I thought Heath Ledger gave a better individual performance. Although Steve Carrell was robbed.

Best Actress
Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents
Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
Keira Knightley, Pride & Prejudice
Charlize Theron, North Country
Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line

Best Supporting Actor
George Clooney, Syriana
Matt Dillon, Crash
Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain
William Hurt, A History of Violence

Mostly because he's been snubbed so many times before (and for much more deserving work). And because Bradley Cooper was robbed. His work in Wedding Crashers was inspired.

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, Junebug
Catherine Keener, Capote
Frances McDormand, North Country
Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
Michelle Williams, Brokeback Mountain

Best Director
George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck
Paul Haggis, Crash
Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
Bennett Miller, Capote
Steven Spielberg, Munich

Best Adapted Screenplay
Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain
Dan Futterman, Capote
Jeffrey Caine, The Constant Gardener
Josh Olson, A History of Violence
Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, Munich

Best Original Screenplay
Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco, Crash
George Clooney and Grant Heslov, Good Night, and Good Luck
Woody Allen, Match Point
Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale
Stephen Gaghan, Syriana

Animated Feature
Howl's Moving Castle
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Art Direction
Good Night, and Good Luck
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
King Kong
Memoirs of a Geisha
Pride & Prejudice

Batman Begins
Brokeback Mountain
Good Night, and Good Luck
Memoirs of a Geisha
The New World

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Memoirs of a Geisha
Mrs. Henderson Presents
Pride & Prejudice
Walk the Line

It'll probably be Memoirs or P&P, but I covet Reese's wardrobe from WtL.

Documentary Feature
Darwin's Nightmare
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
March of the Penguins
Street Fight

Film Editing
Cinderella Man
The Constant Gardener
Walk the Line

Foreign Language Film
Don't Tell (Italy)
Joyeux Noël (France)
Paradise Now (Palestinian Authority)
Sophie Scholl -- The Final Days (Germany)
Tsotsi (South Africa)

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Cinderella Man
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Original Score
Gustavo Santaolalla, Brokeback Mountain
Alberto Iglesias, The Constant Gardener
John Williams, Memoirs of a Geisha
John Williams, Munich
Dario Marianelli, Pride & Prejudice

Original Song
''In the Deep,'' from Crash
''It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp,'' from Hustle & Flow
''Travelin' Thru,'' from Transamerica

* Yeah, I know that was the Lamest. Lede. Ever.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

On the Pile

Yay for review copies!

Finished: Strapped by Tamara Draut. Despite being a statistics-heavy look at economic and social policies, it’s high readable and interesting. Depressing in that it confirms that it sucks to be us, but heartening in that we’re not alone and it’s not our fault. You can read my interview with the author here. Also finished A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Rather complex for a young adult novel---and occasionally heavy-handed in its morality---but those might be the reasons that I love it: L’Engle assumes that young people can grasp big, complex ideas like physics and freedom.

Now Reading: Without You by Anthony Rapp (for review) and The Finishing School by Muriel Spark. But I’m starting to remember all the reasons I wasn’t so impressed with Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, so as much as I hate not to finish a book, I may put The Finishing School aside. Also started The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom by Suzie Orman. I glanced through it and my eyes started to glaze over at all the information about IRAs and 401Ks and loaded vs. no-load funds. Which probably means that I really do need to read this book.

On Deck: Philosophy Made Simple (A Novel) by Robert Hellenga and The Thin Place by Kathryn Davis.

Added to the Pile: How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life by Kaavya Viswanathan and Mean Girls Grown Up by Cheryl Dellasega.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Resolution Report: Month 2

Did a whole other month really go by? Is it really March? When did February happen?

Get back into a size 8. Sigh. Not a bit of progress on this one. In fact, I may backslid a bit. I’m still going to the gym, but only about twice a week. And my eating habits have been horrifying. First all the Valentine’s Day chocolate that I ate in defiance of not having a valentine. And now the Cadbury Creme Eggs. Oh, how I love those Cadbury Creme Eggs. Sigh. Grade: D (-)*

Run a half marathon. I’m running. Not as often as I should, though. I could maybe make it through a 5K if my life depended on it. Grade: C- (+)

Be more social. I just keep improving on this one! I think I’ve officially tossed off the hermit mantle. Don’t get me wrong: I’m still a misanthropic introvert. But I’m no longer a total shut-in. Grade: A (+)

Volunteer more often. Yeah, still not so much. In fact, even less, because I’ve started skipping church committee meetings. So I think this will be my Lenten thing. Instead of giving up something---because I don’t have much to give up and what I haven’t given up I’d be giving up for selfish, shallow purposes rather than for spiritual renewal---I’m going to commit to volunteer 40 hours throughout Lent. Grade: F (-)

Finish the first draft of a novel. Well, no. I still haven’t written a word of it. And I’m wondering if I should reword this goal, because I did write more last month. I wrote an op-ed on school finance for a local paper and a book review and an interview for a local Web site. So I’m writing. I’m just not writing fiction. Novel Grade: F; Writing Grade: C+

Live within a budget. Yes and no. Again, I haven’t pulled out the credit cards. But I borrowed a bit from my tax return. And I haven’t been putting anything into savings. Grade: C (/)

Pay my bills on time. Most of them. My electric bill was late. The stupid thing? I had the money to pay the bill. I was just too lazy to take the three minutes to write the check, affix a stamp, and put it in the mailbox. Grade: B (-)

Improve my work ethic. I think I may have actually gotten worse in the past month. And, really, I had thought I had hit rock bottom. But no. I could have cared less. And now I do. Grade: F (/)

Improve my cooking skills. February really wasn’t a very good month for me. Yet another goal on which I backslid. I did very little cooking this month, and what I did, generally ended in disaster. I did make some tasty biscuits, am getting better at omelets, and improved my cookie recipe. But the pizza disaster sort of cancels that all out. Grade: D (-)

Refresh my French skills. I may drop this goal. It just isn’t happening. Grade: F (/)

Don’t buy any books. Not only have I still not bought any books, but I’ve found ways to get free books! Grade: A+ (/)

In Summary: Out of 11 goals, I’ve stuck to 3 this month. Down from 3.5 last month.
Average Grade: C. Same as last month.

Onward to March!

* (-) means I did worse than the previous month; (+) means that I improved from the previous month; (/) means no change from the previous month.