Saturday, December 31, 2005

Looking back on 2005, I did pretty well on the resolution front. I eat plenty of fruit. I let go of the more minor annoyances. I'm more embracing of my own personality quirks. Bonus: we started practicing Buddhism, making this my most spiritually rewarding year to date.

I'm happier. I think I'm more open and easygoing. I'm also about fifteen pounds heavier. But whatever. I'm still cuter than Janice Dickenson.

This year, my plans involve getting in shape and then being content with whatever that shape may be. I also plan to paint several rooms in the house, invest more in friendships, knit my deserving husband the perfect sweater, cultivate compassion and loving kindness for all living beings, formulate a clearer sense of my career path, and take a daily multivitamin.

Bring it on, 2006.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Gertrude just told her father, "My name is Ashley. And I've killed. I've killed a lot of plants."

Of course, earlier today I told the dog, "Back off the candy, Booty McFresh."

And yesterday Gary emphatically denied all connections to his Ninja past.

And her sister claimed to be a flying fish.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

My favorite part about Christmas is the end of it, when everyone has something to play with, read, or do. No one is hungry or bored or anxious about where we have to be and when. It's peaceful.

Matilda was helping me form cookie dough into cookies yesterday, and we were listening to a CD of Christmas music. I said one of those things that always makes her roll her eyes at me. I said, "When people talk about wishing for peace on Christmas, what do they mean? What does peace mean?"

Matilda rolled her eyes and plopped a piece of dough on the baking sheet. "Um. I don't know. Probably like, people not fighting. Not arguing with each other."

"Not yelling?"

"Not feeling angry at anyone."

"Does it mean just sitting there and being quiet?"

Matilda considered. "Sometimes."

That's good enough for me.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Here's my biggest problem with this time of year. It's cold. I'm cold. And being cold makes me crabby. Therefore, the answer is yes, I am the ice bitch.

You might think the answer to the cold problem would be putting on an extra sweater. But then my fingers are still cold. And what about my feet? So I put on two pairs of socks and a pair of gloves.

This is inside, mind you. The thermostat says 72. But it lies. So does the fact that Gary is wearing a t-shirt. He's just acting tough.

So then, I stumble around the house in my three sweaters, four socks, and clumsy gloved fingers feeling utterly ridiculous and uncomfortable until my dry skin starts to itch, and then I rip off several layers to get to my fingernails. But then immediately my fingers freeze again and I'm wondering how my toes can possibly remain individually frozen blocks of ice inside all of those socks. It's like they bring their own refrigeration unit to the party.

From about mid-October through late April, I can't get warm. I have three extra blankets on my side of the bed, slipper socks, sweatshirts, fleece pants, and a robe. I'm wrapped in a layer of cold, and anything I put on just traps the cold in next to my skin.

If you see me sitting in a parked car in the heat of August with the windows rolled up and a silly smile on my face, it's because I'm finally starting to get the feeling back in my extremities.

Gary promised me we can move to a warmer climate as long as there are good bike trails nearby. Arizona, maybe? New Mexico? I like lizards…

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dear clients,

Happy holidays! I assume you know it is the holiday season because you have been filling my inbox with presents in the form of work orders. In the future, please include a gift receipt so that I may return them. I already have several dozen just like them.

In the past, I may have mistakenly given you the impression that I am both a mind reader and a miracle worker. For those of you now seeking Christmas Miracles from me, please know that in the spirit of the holiday season I would like to use my weekends for things like shopping, gift wrapping, and reacquainting myself with my family. Your emergencies simply aren't as important as my four-year-old's letters to Santa and my ten-year-old's help in the kitchen baking cookies.

Next year they will be five and eleven. They'll never be four and ten at Christmas ever again. What I have with them right now is a one-time opportunity to see this Christmas through their eyes. There will be other Christmases, but never again this Christmas.

Therefore, if my skewed priorities cause your brochure to go to print on December 28 instead of December 21, forgive me if I don't lose any sleep over it. I have to buy my littlest one the "footie pajamies" she so desperately wants before she grows up and learns how hot and uncomfortable they actually are. That's important. That's the kind of miracle I want to be working on right now.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Christmas teaches you things about yourself. I used to always say, "I'm going to get up early on the day after Thanksgiving and get all my shopping done by 9 a.m.!" But by now I know better. I know I'm going to put it off till the last minute. And that's okay. Because I'm not one to enjoy being trampled by middle-aged women with bargain lust.

I should start Christmas shopping early. But I don't. I know this about myself.

I haven't yet learned that if I want to make everyone on my list something precious and handcrafted, I really need to start doing that in July. Not December. July.

Like that's ever going to happen.

And so this year I looked at the calendar in early November and made a conscious decision NOT to knit for friends and family this Christmas. It was going to be a store-bought holiday. There is no shame in that.

But now that it's creeping up on me, I'm feeling the lure of the impending adrenaline rush. Just how many socks could I get knitted before Christmas eve? Is it impossible to knit a lace scarf in a week? Wouldn't it be cute to knit everyone little mitten-shaped tree ornaments? Imagine how much cuter a store-bought stuffed animal would look with a hand-knitted sweater on it!

Please talk me down from this madness. There's no reason to start knitting for Christmas now except that I'm so used to feeling stressed out and over-committed that I can't cope with the absence of it.

Maybe I just need to bake some more cookies. And eat them. Join me?

Friday, December 02, 2005

The other night, I was reading Gertrude a bedtime story and I couldn't get out more than three words at a time because she kept interrupting me. Apparently, she was really enjoying the illustration style of this particular book.

"Who drew this book?" she asked. I closed it and we looked at the cover.

"Robert Munsch wrote the words..." I said.

She giggled. "Ha ha! Munch!"

"Sheila McGraw drew the pictures."

"She colored them too! That makes them look very pretty."

I agreed, and tried to keep reading. Three words later she said, "Did someone draw this baby?"

There was a picture of a mother holding a baby wrapped up in a blanket, sitting in a rocking chair.

"Yes, they did!" I said. "Sheila McGraw drew this whole entire page and everything on it. The mom, the baby, the rocking chair..."

"How did she draw such a cute baby???"

"Well, like this, " I said. "Give me your finger."

She held out her pointer finger and I helped her trace it around the illustration. "This part of the baby is round like a circle. Then you'd draw a small little baby head. And that part connects to the mama's arm here..."

She had a fascinated look on her face.

When we finally got the end, Gert said very sweetly, "Good job, Mom! You read that book very beautifully!"

"Well, thank you," I said, somewhat amused.

She patted me. "That's my girl!"

Monday, November 28, 2005

Welcome to the Nanowrimo ICU, where, if you listen closely enough, you may be able to hear the whoosh of life support and the death rattle of my Nano novel.

I think it might have pulled through if it hadn't been for ISBN-13.

Instead of taking time off to write, I've been stuck at work converting ISBNs in a catalog to ISBN-13.

It's evil. We call it... "the trece."

This is not to be confused with my designer counterpart and teammate, Tracy.

So when I'm going around telling people "the trece" killed my novel, please don't misunderstand.

Oh well, I think it's a decent idea and I'd like to actually finish it in a way that doesn't embarrass me. I'll put it on that shelf downstairs next to the sweaters I intend to finish and the t-shirts I'm going to someday cut up and sew into useful things like underpants for the whole family.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Now that my little green car has fully recovered from having been driven headlong into a PT Cruiser, I feel that the only way to make up for his trauma is to reward him with presents.

Like this.

And I may have to knit him a cozy.

Can cars be turned gay?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Although my word count has all but crawled to a pathetic halt, please don't let that fool you into thinking that I'm Not Going to Finish the Novel. Because I am! It's only that first I am compelled (by arrangement with my employer) to write the infamous Nursing Catalog before we break for the holiday.

Ironically, the Nursing Catalog is currently at 45,880 words... eerily close to the 50k I need for the novel, don't you think? Hmmm. Is there enough drama born out of the publication of a new edition of the textbooks more nursing instructors trust for complete coverage of pathophysiology? Oh, and what about the introduction of all these NEW online courses? Exciting! Makes you want to read it cover-to-cover, eh?

Erm.

[changing subject]

Hey!

Did you know there are knitting podcasts? I just finished listening to this one and it's really entertaining. It almost made updating page counts in the Nursing Catalog tolerable! Here's another one to check out (it's next on my listen list).

Remember, I AM going to finish the novel. I'm 30 now. I can do anything.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Check it out! My lovely and talented eldest daughter will be showing off her brilliant! acting! skills on Show Me St. Louis tomorrow at 3pm. Apparently she and another little 5th grade miscreant have plans to hijack the show while the hosts aren't looking. Watch it! You'll be able to say to yourself, "Hey, I know that kid! And she's darn cute!"

Thursday, November 10, 2005

My story has suddenly taken a very dark turn. (Maybe it's all the goth crafting.) I keep trying to steer it back, but that seems to be the way it wants to go.

It's like taking your dog out for a walk and then finding yourself being tugged along behind because he wants to chase squirrels.

Pretty soon someone is going to come along and make the joke, "Hey, are you writing that story or is it writing you?"

We'll both laugh as if it was a charming and original thing to say. And then I'll flip the idiot off behind his back. And then my arm will be practically yanked out of its socket as the story races off in pursuit of another plot twist.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

While I'm away pushing for 20k (say it out loud, it rhymes! Oh, the bliss!) this week, I believe you should go check out this new little knitmag: The Anticraft

Because while on the surface I may be a fun-loving, nature-hugging mother of two, in my heart I'll always be a troubled little goth teenager who knits!

Although... I didn't actually knit as a teenager. And... goth wasn't technically my scene.

But it's cool stuff!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Little-known rules of marathon novel-writing:

1. Never stop writing at the tidy conclusion of a scene, because you'll have really no motivation to move on to the next piece of action.

2. Never decide you're good on word count so you're just going to knit through lunch instead of write, because you will find yourself siezed by an idea at 3:06 p.m. and no time to write any of it down.

3. Don't let your characters smoke inside the novel, because the non-smokers start coughing and waving their hands all around and making a big scene about it which, frankly, is just upsetting to everyone and does nothing to further the word count.

PS, why do I feel like everyone's already reached 10k and I'm just treading water here?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

All right, 80% of my department are playing a violent round of Hot Potato right now, so I can take a minute to tell you the state of my novel. I've effectively beaten my inner editor into a bloody pulp and she is huddled in a corner over there shouting things like, "stop ending sentences with prepositions!" So streams of crap are freely flowing through my computer unchecked, and there seems to be a shred of plot taking shape.

I have a list of characters and very nearly killed one of them off today, but she's the only one holding on to a certain piece of information, so I'm keeping her alive in a nearby hospital for now. My main character is a 17-year-old girl, the co-dependent caretaker of her self-medicated mother. There's a dead baby buried in the back yard. But that's only one layer in a network of family secrets that are about to be drawn out into the light.

It's a story about the nature of identity and what happens when you discover that you've only heard one side of the story.

Yes, much to my chagrin this plot line seems squarely lodged in the Chick Lit genre, and my only hope is that it manages to play out as more Bastard Out of Carolina and less Lifetime Movie of the Month.

But I do have a working title. And it is: Tripping Over Sleeping Dogs.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sparse blogging on the horizon, or at least I assume that will be the case as I attempt to become a novelist for the month of November.

Here's why this is important: from the time I could string sentences together, I had decided I was going to write a novel. I figured I'd have it finished by the time I turned 13. I reached 13 and generously gave myself an extension to age 20. When I was 20, I was entrenched in college and parenting, which I felt was good for another ten-year extension. Next month I turn 30, which means it's pay-up time. I'm good for it. Procrastination is my thing.

After hooking up with a few NaNo folks this afternoon, I'm all full of enthusiasm and purpose. I think I get it now. It's like singing at full tilt in your car with the stereo cranked. You don't have to know the words. No one cares if you're in tune. The point is just to keep singing. All month. 50,000 words' worth.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

I have just returned (to my desk) from a great and perilous journey to the farthest reaches of the building.

And let me just tell you right now, the length of this blog is exactly 1,667 words, which is the number of words I need to write every day for my NaNoWriMo novel. So if it seems long, you're right, it is. Bring a snack.

It all started in a meeting on how to promote the 8th edition of a nursing textbook, and the book's editor had an idea.

"Lo, and we shall have a brochure that does depict a grand collage of all book covers of editions past! Editions one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven shall be pictured on the brochure, proudly displayed in their historical significance beside the new 8th edition."

It wasn't a bad idea. We'd never really done anything like it, which is always my first complaint whenever we're asked to execute something that specific. Like, let's put the book cover on the front of the brochure! Same as every other brochure! And we'll show a student.. a happy student… and she's happy because this book is really student-friendly and accessible. But it's got comprehensive coverage of the material, you get me? Are you feeling it? Student-friendly, accessible, and complete! That's our hook. Hell, that's our headline! I think we've nailed it here, people.

After about five of those meetings in a week, I start picking at my wrists with my fingernails to see if I can find a vein.

But this concept might be worth pursuing, and it might even be fun. Tracy, my design teammate, always the pragmatist, asked where we might find images of the covers from such aged editions? Were there digital files somewhere? Did they have hard copies of the books that we could scan?

They handed us editions six and seven, and wished us luck.

Tracy caught up with me after the meeting. "Would you like to accompany me on a little scavenger hunt?"

Our Quest began in the most logical of all places, the corporate library.

It's a gamble what you're likely to find in this library.* Many years ago, it was managed properly with card indexing and a system for checking books out. We had a librarian on staff who was very sweet and willing to help you find a certain book or obtain permissions from other publishers if you were working on a manuscript that included references or tables or artwork from books that weren't ours. Very handy. But after a few mergers and shifts of ownership, our librarian is gone (her office has been converted to a conference room) and the stacks are spottily populated with certain books here and there, with no real logic behind any of it.

But it was a good starting point. I headed for the shelf it should be on, figuring I could begin with optimism at least.

And there, lo and behold, sitting on its shelf in perfect alphabetical order was a beat-up copy of the fifth edition.

This early success inspired us to keep searching. We scoured every tiny little bookcase in every hallway and every abandoned office. We asked managing editors, developmental editors, publishers, even editorial assistants if they had ever heard of the book. Those that had merely shook their heads when we asked for anything older than the sixth edition. "Did you check the library?" some asked.

We walked in circles for a while, examining bookcases we'd already seen. "There's no way," I said, beginning to lose hope. "The old editions don't exist anymore."

"I wonder if they ever did."

"You know, there's one place we haven't checked yet…"

By that, I meant Production.** The production department and my own Creative Services are polar opposites. We toss footballs, play with play dough, and fill out Mad Libs with fart humor of a third-grade level sophistication. Production has no patience for anything loud, childish, or playful. This is a business, people, and we're here to have as little fun as possible, now will you please keep it down. I've often thought that if you brought Production into direct contact with Creative Services, we'd explode like a matter/antimatter reaction.

With some reluctance, we climbed the stuffy stairwell to the second floor. Production assistants and project managers looked up from their proofs and printouts, eyeing the outsiders with suspicion.

While wandering those eerily quiet halls, we stumbled upon what appeared to be a conference room undergoing a transition into a makeshift library. Stacks of books were leaning against the walls, ready to be shelved. "Do not remove books from this room," said a severely handwritten sign by the door.

We looked at each other, then ran a finger down the rudimentarily alphabetized shelves. S…R…Q…P… "Oh my God… it's the FOURTH EDITION!"

Tracy held it out from her in wonderment and a light seemed to shine down on it from above.

I glanced nervously behind me. "We can't take it. These people shun daylight and drink the blood of animals."

"Well, what should we do? Ask?"

She propped the Holy Grail up on the floor to lean against the shelf.

"Who's in charge up here?" I said.

"I don't know," said Tracy. "Why don't you go back out into the hall and shout for help really loudly."

"Are you trying to get us killed?"

But it wasn't long before we found someone who would listen to our situation. We confessed to being stumped and asked for suggestions.

"Try the mail room," she said.

We chuckled. The mail room! Who says Production people don't have a sense of humor.

But she went on. "Rick in the mail room keeps tabs on old books."

"Okay!" said Tracy. "We'll, uh, try the mail room. And by the way, you know the room full over books right over there? We found on of the editions we need… do you think it'd be okay to borrow it?"

"Sure," she answered. "Just let someone know."

"Right." A pause. Then Tracy said, very deliberately, "We're… going to… borrow that book."

"Okay," she said.

Tracy and I exchanged a sideways glance and then backed away.

The mail room. Assuming we weren't being led astray for the twisted amusement of our Production sister, this Quest was now about to take us to, of all places, the darkest, loneliest corner of the building. The mail room. As the door opened onto concrete flooring and warehouse shelving, I could have sworn I heard a flutter of bats scattering overhead.

"So this is where old books go to die?" I whispered.

"Rick…?" called Tracy, her voice echoing off the far walls.

A figure stepped out from behind a towering shelf of boxing materials. His shoes clacked against the hard floor and he was holding something, thwapping it against the palm of his other hand. A box cutter. That wasn't intimidating or anything.

"Yep. Whatcha need?" he asked. I'd said hi to Rick in the halls, and he's a nice guy. But surrounded by his domain, in the dim, poorly distributed light, he seemed a little more rough around the edges.

"Yes," said Tracy, stepping up to the proverbial plate while I pretended to be very interested in a stack of Fed Ex labels. "We were told that you might have something to do with locating some old editions of a textbook."

"How old," said Rick.

"Old!" I said. "Like the 80's."

"Ohh…" Rick scratched the stubble on his chin with the edge of his box cutter. "Yep. Those are gonna be at Iron Mountain."

"Sweet Christ!" I blurted out. "Iron Mountain! Are there dragons?"

"Which ring do we use to get back? The green one? Or the yellow?"

Rick acknowledged neither of these references and led us deeper in to the warehouse to his desk, which contained stacks of white printouts gummed up with dusty fingerprints. He picked up a handful of papers and studied the top one for a moment. "Yep," he mused. "Iron Mountain. That's where everything that old is archived."

It slowly dawned on us that Iron Mountain was an archiving service, not another stage of our journey to be conquered or climbed.

"Tell you what," said Rick. "Can you send me an email letting me know the author and title of the books you need? I'll get to it first thing in the morning."

It seemed funny to me to think of anyone tapping away at email surrounded by delivery truck exhaust and packing tape. But why not?

On the way out, Tracy said, "Look! Iron Mountain." She was pointing to a stack of boxes with Iron Mountain imprinted on the side.

"Why have I never heard of it until now?" I said.

"Who even knew there was an archive?"

"It's not as if there would be a system in place for instances like this. That would be silly."

Tracy rolled her eyes at me. "What, and eliminate fun excursions like this to the bowels of the building searching for something as simple as an archived textbook?"

We walked back in silence for a while. Then I said, "I did kind of want to go to Iron Mountain, though."

A song began playing slowly, sadly in my head.

Oh, to live on Iron Mountain
With the barkers and the colored balloons,
You can't be twenty on Iron Mountain
Though you're thinking that
you're leaving there too soon,
You're leaving there too soon...


* This is the point in the story where you might interrupt me to say something like, "Wait a minute. Why wouldn't a major publishing company keep copies of all the books it publishes? Doesn't that just make sense?" To which I would reply, "You've never worked in publishing, have you."

** The possibility exists that I have now offended several loyal readers who work in Production. Do not be offended, for most of this blog contains exaggerations added for dramatic effect. I love you, Production. Please don't eat me.

Monday, October 24, 2005

NaNoWriMo is terrifying me. The closer November 1 gets, the more convinced I am that anything I write will be incredibly embarrassing. I have nothing planned. I have no ideas, just half-formed glimmers of idea fetuses.

I'm apparently going to show up on November 1st's doorstep naked and empty-handed, hoping for charity's sake that arrangements have been made to hook me up with a stray plot (or at least a handful of characters).

I would love to tell you I haven't written anything fictional in years and that's what's holding me back, but of course that's not true. I blog, that counts…some elements of most everything I write are fictionalized, you know, uh, to protect the innocent and all that. And writing fiction at work is my specialty! Well, fiction may be too strong a word. Gary calls it "benefeature" writing – turning lame-ass product features into compelling and exciting benefits. (I love him, for he is the coiner of all terms humorous.)

I just need to convince myself that no one ever has to actually read my fetal novel. The problem is, secretly I do want people to read it. I want hundreds of people to read it and tell me lies about how good it is. That's exactly what I want from you, lies. False praises and lies. The more transparent the better.

Feel free to lie about how much you love my blog, as well. Right now. Go.

The comments button is RIGHT THERE, PEOPLE.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Today I thought it might be fun to dig into the back of my closet and pull out some boots, since it's pretty hard to justify wearing sandals in rainy, 58-degree weather. The problem is, these boots I love really hurt my feet after a few hours.

But that's okay! Because unless I'm walking to the bathroom or rummaging around the office for candy, I'm usually sitting at my desk. Feet unseen. I work just fine in socks.

So I wore my cool boots this morning for as long as I could stand it. Then I unzipped the sides and wiggled my feet out of them. The circulation began to trickle back into the balls of my feet. So much better!

Just as I was getting comfy, my phone rang. One of my coworkers said, "Hey, can you come take a look at something on my screen?"

"Sure," I said, propping the phone between my ear and shoulder. I began fumbling around under my desk for my forsaken footware. "I'll be right there. Just let me re-boot."

"Oh!" Pause. "Mine is acting a bit funny today too. I think there's something going on with the network."

MS2 clue 3


MS2 clue 3
Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

Ta da! Clue 3 is finished, just in time to start Clue 4.

You are not going to believe what happens next. See those live stitches at top? Well, bind those off and pick up 231 stitches along the other two sides, essentially turning this shawl on its head.

Whoa man! They're blowin' my mind.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I went to my chiropractor yesterday to make sure my whiplash was nothing serious.

What he said: "Whiplash is serious. Anything that's causing you pain is worth looking into."

What he meant: "You were in a wreck that wasn't your fault? Their insurance is footing the bill? I think I hear a Ferrari calling."

I'm just joking.

He kept me waiting for an hour and a half, I think to prove he loves me. And because all the cool chiropractors are doing it these days. Then he took some x-rays.

As he flicked the film up on the light board, he commented, "These are great-looking x-rays. In terms of technique, I mean."

"My modeling career must finally be paying off," I said.

"Oh, do you model?" he asked, in what I think may actually have been all seriousness.

"That was a joke," I said.

"Well, you could model, that's why I ask."

"Ha ha! That's funny. No really, I was being sarcastic."

"I just assumed you were serious!"

"Yes, well." I tried to think of ways to change the subject.

Just when I thought the horse was completely dead: "Have you ever thought about modeling?"

"Wow, is that my spine up there? Look at the impingement between the 4th and 5th vertebrae! That's got lumbar subluxation written all over it."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Not long ago, on my way to pick up Gertrude after work, my little red Neon was totaled when another driver decided to make an ill-advised left turn directly into the path of my car. There was much slamming of breaks and inflating of air bags. No one was injured except the vehicles.

Yesterday, on my way to pick up Gertrude after work, another driver decided to make another ill-advised left turn directly into the path of my little green Ion.

Okay, can we pause this story? I love my Ion. I love it like one of my children. It's small, it's green, it's cute, it's made of plastic, and it gets excellent gas mileage. The man who sold it to me after the death of my Neon didn't have to convince me of its intrinsic cuteness, but he did repeatedly insist that Saturns are safe, safe, safe, safe cars. Sure, I said. And throw in some zero-percent financing! We'll take it. I pull my Ion into the garage every night and pat him. He is my beloved.

Now, I'm driving along thinking, of all things, about my Ion and how much I still owe on the loan. And how much it might be worth in five or six years when Matilda is old enough to either drive it or trade it in.

I'm not making this up. Those were actually the thoughts going through my head at the exact moment a silver PT Cruiser came hurtling through two lanes of traffic and impaled itself on the front end of my car.

The PT Cruiser hissed and shuddered. My car merely glared at it. We pulled out of traffic while the PT Cruiser gasped and wheezed and spit fluid into the street.

I got out to look. A few witnesses came up to me and looked too.

"Wow," said a man, shifting his gaze between my car and the ruined PT Cruiser.

"Yeah," I said. "This thing did all right." I patted my car. His bumper had shifted a bit. A piece of his plastic siding was cracked. He grinned up at me with a brave, broken-toothed smile. "Yes, you're a good boy!" I told him.

The other driver, a confused college student wearing too much jewelry, was on her cell phone yelling at her mother. "No, mom. I just got in an accident!… No, it got out early. I didn't skip it!…"

As her car was towed off and the police officer handed us our information, the college student plopped down on the curb with her impractically stylish purse, overstuffed backpack, and large art portfolio. All of a sudden, she looked very, very young. And alone, with no car.

"Do you need a ride anywhere?" I asked her, surprised to find myself feeling protective instead of annoyed.

She looked surprised too. "Um. I think I've got one." She didn't say thanks.

"Okay," I said.

Now bring on the insurance claims.

Monday, October 17, 2005

It's amazing how crabby I become on Monday morning when I'm forced to cut short my weekly easing-into-the-week ritual of methodically listing and ordering the week's scheduled tasks. I like my lists. I do not like having my listings interrupted by impromptu Monday morning meetings. And as a discussion about printing costs and format sizes ate into more and more of my morning list time, I started feeling incredibly unsettled and annoyed.

I have not yet recovered. I may never recover.

But never mind! Because this is the year I'm going to take a stab at writing a novel and shaking loose some of the creative constipation by banging my head against a keyboard into the wee hours of the morning.

It'll be fun, honest. I'll have the bruises to prove it.

Writing doesn't start until November 1, but I'm already off to a great start. I jumped out of bed to jot some ideas on a random piece of paper the other night. Now I cannot find it. And I have no idea what I wrote, except that I'm sure it would be really embarrassing if anyone else were to read it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

You know, sometimes I entertain myself by thinking about where I was and what I was doing half my life ago. I'm 29 now and half my life ago I was just starting high school.

I know a lot of people enjoyed their high school career, but I really did not. I was nerdy, chubby, and socially backward. I spent most of it engaging in compensatory behaviors and hence dodging referrals to the counselor's office. I can't even tell you how glad I was to get away from the set of mean, snide, privileged, self-satisfied brats with whom I shared way too much personal space five days a week.

Not that work doesn't have its moments, but for the most part...

Top ten reasons why my job is way better than high school

  1. When someone passes you in a narrow hallway while you're carrying an armload of papers, you don't have to worry that the other person is going to smack them down.
  2. When another female tells you she likes your hair today, she's probably not being sarcastic.
  3. You can eat lunch all by yourself if you feel like it.
  4. You don't have to bring a note from your mother in order to get out of any physical activity.
  5. Teams and partners are assigned.
  6. There are no motherfucking pep rallies.
  7. I have a picture of Legolas on my wall, and people are still willing to be seen with me.
  8. There are no loud bells, buzzers, alarms, broadcast announcements, or public prayers.
  9. I no longer have to remember a locker combination.
  10. If you feel something brush the back of your head during a meeting, it's probably not a spitball.


Hooray for being grown up (mostly).

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Mystery Shawl 2 - Clue #2 completed!


Mystery Shawl 2 - Clue #2 completed!
Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

Yay, more of the mystery revealed!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hello and welcome to Remedial Lace Knitting 101. Everyone go ahead and open your textbooks to the chapter on Why Mistakes Cannot Be Ignored.

If you've already ignored a mistake in line 34 and went right on blithely knitting up to line 78 figuring it would all work itself out somehow, raise your hand.

*raised*

Okay. Now, has anyone made it line 78 and become so freaking pleased with yourself that you removed all previous lifelines, making it impossible to safely rip back your work in a controlled manner?

*yes, that would be me*

Riiiight. Well, did you at least manage to salvage any of the work you did prior to the mistake row?

*looks sadly at bare, empty needles and pile of unraveled yarn at feet*

You have much to learn, Grasshopper.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

If you've been inside your local Target lately, you may have noticed them selling yarn in their $1 section. If you're like me and thought, "Yay! Cheap yarn!" only to get it home and have no idea what to do with it*, may I humbly submit my suggestion:

Two-Dollah Mittens action shot

Fabulous Two-Dollah Mittens

Need: 2 skeins pink boucle Target yarn
A few yards of yarn in a complementary color
Size 4 double pointed needles
crochet hook
tapestry needle

This size will fit a ten-year-old girl, but it also happens to fit me (a medium-sized adult girl). You can adjust your size from there. It's two dollah! What you want for two dollah?

Cast on 30 stitches. Divide stitches equally over 3 needles. Join and work the next 1.5 inches in this exaggerated garter stitch as follows:
R1&2: Knit
R3: Purl
End on a purl row.

Work in 1x1 ribbing (K1, P1) until your mitten cuff measures about 3 inches total length. Increase as follows:
[Increase by knitting into the front and back of the stitch, K9]3 times. Knit the next round. Continue increasing until you have 39 stitches.

Work the first 6 stitches of your first needle. Move these stitches to a safety pin or stitch holder. Knit the rest of the round. When you come back around to the held stitches, cast on 6 stitches and continue knitting until total mitten length is 9 inches.

Decrease the next row: [K1, K2tog]repeat to the end of the round. Knit the next round. Divide stitches equally over 2 needles so that the mitten lays flat with the thumb on the left for the left-hand mitten and thumb on the right for the right-hand mitten. Graft these stitches together and weave the end in inside.

Thumb:
Put the 6 held stitches on a needle. Knit these stitches. Pick up 8 stitches around the thumb hole. Knit in the round until thumb measures 2.5 inches or the length of your thumb. Decrease [K1, K2tog] to the end of the round. Break yarn, thread through stitches, cinch, sew a few stitches over the top to secure, and weave the end in inside.

Flower:
I would love to tell you how to make the flower, but I have completely forgotten. Just know that it's a simple chain stitch and that each petal is a chain 5 stitches long. Sew flower to wrist cuff using main color yarn.

*Under no circumstances do I recommend actually purchasing this yarn for this project. It's incredibly unfriendly to work with and impossible to undo mistakes. If you make a mistake, you're best off just shrugging it off and living with it. Honestly, go out and buy a skein of some Lion Brand or Red Heart. You'll use about two dollars' worth of it and be much happier.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I’ve joked before about how there might be bodies buried in my yard. I didn’t actually think there were bodies. It was a joke, okay?

So all summer I’ve been growing tomatoes and peppers along a fence I share with my Russian neighbors, and on the other side of the fence they tend flowers and attract butterflies. Since we basically share the same soil, I felt like it would be the right thing to do to share my tomatoes. I left a big container of tomatoes on their doorstep and walked away feeling pleased with my good deed.

I didn’t want, need, or expect any form of reciprocation.

Yesterday, I was rummaging around in the kitchen trying to find something to make for dinner when the doorbell rang. Gary answered it.

I heard Gary saying things like, “Oh wow! Thank you so much! Yes, they’re beautiful! Thank you!”

As he closed the door, I came around the corner to see what was going on. The next few seconds unfolded like a slow motion scene in a horror film. Gary turned toward me holding two plastic grocery bags. There was something large, wet, and heavy bulging out the sides of each one.

“It’s fish,” he told me.

I heard: “It’s FFFFFFFFF IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII SSSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH” because I was stumbling backward in a horrified, knee-jerk recoil.

“That… was… nice… of… them!” I choked.

“Yes!” said Gary, who was clearly trying to figure out how and where to set down the bags without thinking about their contents. “Really… nice!”

I like fish and all. But if I’m going to eat a being, I’m kind of partial to things that haven’t been recently extracted from their natural surroundings for the purpose of my eating it. That may seem like a vague distinction, but let’s just say I can eat fried chicken but I have a hard time squishing bugs.

Gary set the fish down on the counter with a thud and pulled the bags down around them. One of them moved. “OH GOD, IT’S STILL ALIVE!” I shouted. Or maybe Gary shouted it. I don’t remember. I’m traumatized.

The fish wiggled its fin at me and sucked air with its gill. At that point I wanted to cry.

We talked for a while about what the hell we were going to do. Neither one of us had it in us to clean it or otherwise conceptualize it as food. We spent an hour or so on the phone with everyone we could think of who might enjoy fishing or be willing to accept a gift of dead fish. We talked about giving them to a food pantry, bestowing them upon folks who fish at the lake nearby our house, and yes, even burying them in the back yard.

We had not yet, at this point, reached the level of detachment needed to find humor in the situation, and so we did not immediately start throwing out ideas for our Top Five Things to Do With a Dead Fish list, or the Top Five People We’d Like to Give a Dead Fish To. That would come later.

Gary packed the fish in ice in our cooler and put them in the garage. I tried to find something to make for dinner that had never had its own spine.

There are bodies out there, and I think I’ll be having nightmares for months.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Despite the fact that I spend most of my work day being best friends with a keyboard, I'm not the world's greatest typist. My fingers can do qwerty without thinking about it, but when one hand shifts just a few milimeters in one direction, it takes me a while to notice that what I think I'm typing isn't what's coming out.

Lots of times I think I'm typing "FINAL" on a status report. I'm actually calling my projects "FUBAK". And I don't even know what that means. But I bet I could guess.

When I put my name at the end of an email, sometimes I'm unware of signing off as Cjros.

That's my alien identity, apparently. Creepy.

Better go attend to the piles of fubak on my desk.

xoxo,
Cjros

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Mystery Shawl - Clue 1 DONE


Mystery Shawl - Clue 1 done
Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

Look ma, lace!

This is the first clue. I love it. It's addictive. I want more. But now I have to wait until next Friday for the next clue.

Oh, and those needles? Did you know Laura made them? She actually made them for Matilda, but I've commandeered them for this shawl, and they work great. Knitting a lace shawl on handcrafted needles just seemed like the right thing to do.

Friday, September 30, 2005

In all the time I've worked in advertising, I've never felt icky about it. Actually, I've always felt rather sincere. It's not like I'm selling carcinogens or trying to lure folks further into debt by signing up for credit. I'm promoting nursing books, medical references, you know – knowledge that saves lives! You know – like, Dear Health Care Professional, please buy this new book so your patients won't die!

I felt a little weird about a request from a client earlier this week. She asked for a brief message to include in a newsletter that talked about how truly sorry we are about the hurricanes, how we've made large, corporate donations to the relief funds, and how proud we are of all the hard-working men and women who, etc. etc. etc.

It's all true, I'm sure every person in the company wishes only good to befall his fellow man. I don't think any monetary donations made by the company had any ulterior motives other than to help the afflicted.

But I kind of think this message did.

I guess that's what bothers me. Good is accomplished by doing good, not by talking about it. Not by patting yourself on the back for it. Certainly not by earning the admiration of others for having done it.

It's no big deal, really. It just made me very glad that I get to feel sincere 99% of the time and still earn a paycheck.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Test Pattern


Testpattern
Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

The "sample pattern" for the Mystery Shawl has been posted, which I'm supposed to knit so I can determine what gauge is best for the yarn I've chosen.

Must... Not... Panic...

It's only lace. People knit lace all the time. Lace is just one stitch at time. Just have to get the hang of it, that's all.

Help.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present: Ten Weeks of my Life!

Knitty's Hush Hush

It was knit mainly on #2 needles using a blend of cashmere/silk yarn that I reclaimed from a sweater.

This is a close-up of the "feather & fan" lace edging on the bottom and top:

Detail of hem

Was it complicated? Not really. Did it just about kill me? Yes. Because I can't count.

So then, because I was inspired by my crocheting friend Carole who was making flowers at Tuesday Night group recently, I added this nifty little flower detail:

Detail of flower

The bow in the middle of the flower is cleverly disguising the embarrassingly mistake-riddled construction of the flower itself. Did you know that a yarn-over doesn't automatically include a knit stitch after it? Yeah, I do now.

Overall, I think I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. I'm mostly pleased that I managed to stick with something for so long. I think I'm going to line it and wear it in public if I can get over how slinky it is. I like its 1930s appeal.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The bastard's done! Knitty's Hush Hush nightgown is finished, blocked, and detailed. But you'll have to wait for pictures because I'm lazy. If this angers you and you can't wait, there are some unblocked and undetailed pictures on Flickr. But you'll have to hunt for them. Because I'm lazy. I think we just covered that.

My next project is going to teach me to follow directions. It's the Mystery Shawl. Doesn't it sound mysterious? Doesn't a Mystery Shawl sound like the kind of thing your grandkids would find in your attic after you're dead and make up stories about it?

Actually, how it works is every five weeks they reveal a new piece of the pattern. You have no idea what kind of ride you're being taken on.

This means I can't skip ahead and ignore the directions, make stuff up, or fudge my way through it. If line 34 says "[k3, p4, k1, yo, k1, yo] 12 times" then that's what I'm going to do.

This project will tell me, beyond a shadow of a doubt, if I really am pattern stupid. And if I am, I can seek help. I'm sure there's a support group.

The only problem is I don't have anywhere near enough of the yarn I was planning to use for it. With ALL the yarn I'm hoarding, I don't have enough of ANYTHING to make a shawl.

I went to Gary, looking for sympathy. He patted me on the shoulder. "Okay, so buy the yarn you need."

"I can't just buy the yarn! That costs money. I should just use whatever I have laying around."

"You can't knit without yarn, dumbass. You don't have to ask."

"Yes I do!"

"No. You don't."

Then he showed me a picture of the $1200 bike he wants.

"Oh," I said.

And he didn't really call me dumbass, either. He's just that cool.

So help me decide which color to make it…That Tangelo is awfully fun, but is it mysterious enough?

Friday, September 23, 2005

A friend of mine asked if I wanted to take a belly dancing class with her.

Belly dancing has so many things going for it. It appears to be loads of fun and great exercise. It involves the wearing of glittery things. I love dancing! Oh how I love it, although I have all the grace and rhythm of an epileptic sea monkey. And the curvier you are, the more you have to work with.

But let's be honest. I don't have curves. I have wiggly flab, and wiggly flab does not lend itself well to dance.

Right now, my flab knows how things stand. It knows it's expected to sit absolutely still at all times with its flabby little hands folded tightly and primly in its lap. No sudden movements. No peeking out from under sleeves or over waistbands. I make its life very unpleasant so that it doesn't get any grand ideas and start spreading out and loosening up.

If I start adorning it with clinking maillots and colorful, flowing scarves, the flab may begin to feel accepted and even loved. It will probably begin expressing itself all over my thighs, rear, and upper arms, and clamor for attention wherever we go. I will have loud, flamboyant flab. It will create scenes in public places, demanding lipstick and nachos.

But you never know…maybe that's a good thing.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A couple of things.

First, I really should drink more water. And so should you.

Also, there is a blood drive this week at work and every time this happens I have to have the same argument with myself.

Me: We should give blood. It's the right thing to do. People need blood.

Me2: We've been through this. Let me walk you through what will happen. We'll dutifully fill out all of the paperwork, secretly feeling a bit sad that we've skirted in above the weight cutoff. They'll prick our finger and determine that we have plenty of iron. And then we'll recline on a gurney, squeeze a ball, and try to present veins.

Me: Yes! And then we'll give blood.

Me2: No, we will not. We'll try to pretend we're strolling the streets of Paris while the nurse pokes around for a vein. Then a good ten or fifteen minutes and several dozen puncture wounds later, the nurse will shout Eureka! and we'll see a stream of red fill the tube and travel its merry way to the collection bag.

Me: Exactly! So what's a little discomfort when the tradeoff is helping someone in need? Let's do it.

Me2: You're obviously forgetting what happens every time we're about three-quarters of the way to a pint.

Me: Um…?

Me2: Nothing. Nothing happens! Blood completely stops flowing and no amount of needle jiggling, ball squeezing, or silent pleading will get it going again. The nurse detaches the bag, pats our arm condescendingly, and mutters something about maybe using our blood for plasma when we both know perfectly well it's just going to be tossed.

Me: Oh. Yeah. But at least there are donuts?

Me2: You want a donut that badly? I will freaking buy you a donut. Loser.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Today's thoughts upon waking: Was I perhaps run over by several trucks last night?

Thoughts upon rolling to the side of the bed and perching on the edge of it while waiting for my bloodflow to catch up with the rest of me: Oh wow. I cannot possibly go to work today.

Thoughts while showering: I have to go to work. Perhaps I'll pass out and be sent home.

Thoughts while getting dressed: Or, maybe I should head off the passing out and call in sick. That is why people have sick days, after all. To avoid the embarrassment of passing out in the halls and requiring others to get all up in your Rescue 911.

Right now I'm cooking a turkey burger because I believe it's the one thing in this house I feel the least like eating. I don't know why. Ask the dog, he's the one who's going to end up with it.

He thinks he's so smart. He doesn't even know how to twist open that little spout on the mustard bottle.

Yesterday I became distracted while driving to a hair appointment and ended up nearly 30 miles from my destination.

"Hey, I think I'm lost," I confessed to Gary via cell phone, since I'm one of Those People who has a cell phone now.

"Where are you?" he asked.

"I believe I've just crossed a bridge into Destination Unknown."

"Isn't there a Ford dealership near there?"

"Oh, yep, here is it coming up on the left. Want me to pick up an Escort?"

"I'm good."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Gary and I were flipping channels the other night and landed on a few minutes of a stand-up routine. A woman was railing against stereotypes of what women consider to be sexy in a man.

I'll tell you what they should show in porn for women, she said. A man who wants to talk to you. About your feelings. While standing over a stove cooking you dinner. And taking care of the kids.

I looked over at Gary. "You are the perfect man," I told him.

He shrugged modestly.

I married a man who can cook, which is something I didn't know at the time, and neither did he – having lived most of his bachelor days on cheese fries, nachos, and a variety of other cheese delivery systems. But once he started actually cooking, he found that he had the ability to take several things out of the pantry and combine them in ways that I consider to be sheer genius.

Saturday, Gary decided to make a stew. We've talked about stew before and how it's one of the things we miss about not eating beef, that wonderful, stringy beefy stewyness that our mothers forced on us as children and that we now look back on with such nostalgic fondness.

Instead of beef, he used pork. And red wine, and tomatoes from my garden. Potatoes, carrots, onions, all the requisite stew stuff.

Behold. Sitting in a bowl before me, it looked like the stew of my youth. It had that same familiar, comforting aroma. Upon tasting it, I immediately set down my spoon and asked my husband to marry me.

And then last night he made chicken enchiladas. And we talked about our feelings.

I am not worthy.

Friday, September 09, 2005

I remember very clearly being about 2 or 3 and having just outgrown one of my favorite dresses. I had a complex thought in my head and tried to express it to my mom, but it came out as, "I can wear it next time when I'm a baby again!" I immediately felt stupid because those weren't the right words. But I didn't know the right words. My mom made me feel worse when she laughed and started explaining that people get older, not younger. I pouted and thought to myself the toddler equivalent of "Duh, mom!"

It amazes me how very young kids seem to instinctively grasp the concept of reincarnation in a way that makes me think maybe it IS just that simple.

Little Gert and I have had several existential conversations about people who have died and come back as new babies. And fish who die and are reborn as cats. And people who come back as mosquitoes (which I firmly believe will become of at least one person I've had the misfortune of knowing in this lifetime).

I find it a much more comforting philosophy than anything I was ever taught about heaven or any other version of the afterlife. That, in fact, this is the afterlife, and the life after that, and the life after that, until you finally "get it" and break the cycle.

Gertrude has been here before, I'm certain of it. She seemed to have been born anxious to bypass babyhood and develop enough motor control to start her current inquisitive journey. All the time she screamed and fidgeted as a tiny baby, it seemed like she was impatient. She wanted to hold her head up, and when she could do that, she wanted to stand, and then she wanted to walk, and now she wants to read and write. Sometimes I see her sitting on the couch with big, fat novels, without pictures to hold her attention, just staring intently at the pages as if she's saying to herself, I know this…

I also like the idea that groups of souls travel together and find each other again and again, that your brother may once have been your best friend. Or that your true love was your true love many times before. I was describing this idea to Matilda and her eyes lit up at the thought. I told her that when she was born, I recognized her, in a way that's impossible to describe in words.

One of the most beautiful concepts I think I've ever heard is that given an unspecified number of lifetimes, sooner or later we will all have been a parent to each other. The woman who butts in front of you in line at the drugstore, the boss who berates you, the kid on the playground who kicks dirt at you…at one point this person may have held you and loved you unconditionally, taken care of you while you were sick, rocked you to sleep. I find it very difficult to hate anyone when I think of that, maybe because as a mother I know what that kind of love feels like.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

It started with one guy riding his bike to work. He was gawked at and held in odd but sincere esteem, considered to be a hard-core fringe dweller. Then another guy rode in this morning. I am sincerely considering becoming the next to join in.

Here are five good reasons why I should ride my bike to work:

1. I live less than five miles away.
2. Exercise is healthy.
3. I love riding my bike and I don't get the chance to do it enough.
4. Riding home at the end of a stressful day would undoubtedly dissipate all of the nasties.
5. I don't have any misshapen limbs, injuries, or health conditions that prevent me from doing it.

Here are five good reasons why I shouldn't.

1. Gary and I would have to work something out for dropping off and picking up the kids, unless I can devise a way to securely fasten them to my bike frame.
2. Traffic and hills.
3. Everything I bring to work would have to fit in a backpack, including my lunch and a change of clothes.
4. Although there IS a shower on the premises, that seems a little creepy. It's more likely I'd opt to spend the day stinky, sporting weird helmet hair.
5. It would be impossible to drink coffee on the way in.

Is convenience, efficiency, and the luxury of arriving at work sweat-free worth $3+ at the gas pump? Probably. But I think I want to do it just to be one of the fringe dwellers.

Plus, it's the kind of thing that will make a good story when we're all driving futuristic electric cars.

"…And then, kids, gas prices hit three dollars per gallon! (Heh heh, I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but it was pretty steep in those days.) And we all hopped on our bikes and said a big, collective eff you to the oil industry! The next year, your grandpa and I bought our first hybrid…"

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Have you seen my desk calendar? Because it was on my desk last week before I left work, and all things being equal, it should have still been on my desk this morning. I wonder if I've made enemies I didn't know I had, or perhaps pissed off the cleaning staff. It's an odd thing to go missing.

We spent Labor Day weekend pursuing interests. Matilda baked a cake (with not so much kitchen assistance as moral support). Gertrude experienced the joy of laying paint on an empty oatmeal canister. Gary plotted out some much-needed improvements on his bike. I, um. I knitted, okay? I knit. It's what I do. Catch up, sparky.

So let me ask you this purely hypothetical question. Is it at all logical to make the leap from "wouldn't say no to a surprise pregnancy" to "sure, let's get pregnant!"? And if not, why not?

We haven't had any discussion on it, except the unspoken understanding that as a happily married couple with stable income and housing, a baby wouldn't necessarily bring our lives crashing down around us. It's just a thought that's been popping up a lot lately: "why not?".

I'm sure not everyone puts a lot of thought into the decision. Most people probably do not make pro and con lists, they just decide it's something they want to do. Or they're granted a surprise. Matilda was definitely a surprise. So was Gert, although we did fall into the wouldn't-say-no category – until Gary's company started laying everyone off a month later. That made the timing a little inconvenient. Plus we were all cramped in a leaky apartment. It wasn't perfect, and we were a little freaked out. And Gert cried a lot. But you know, it's life.

Oh hey, I just found my calendar. That's auspicious.

I know I don't want more than 3 kids. I like having 2 kids, and Gary is happy with two. But really, here's the thing. I feel like I cheated myself out of the experience with Matilda. I spent the entire first trimester in denial that I was even pregnant. The second and third were mainly filled with denial, regret, guilt, and anxiety. I tried to avoid thinking about it as much as possible. I didn't buy maternity clothes or baby toys. I just told myself next time I'd do everything right.

With Gert I did, right down to the natural childbirth experience. But I always had it in the back of my mind that Gert would be #2 of 3.

Plus, I'd kind of like to know what it's like to actually "try" for a baby. Not that I think it would take much. Boys from Irish Catholic families can knock up girls just by thinking impure thoughts.

It's just an idea.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I love our IT department, but I have no idea how to talk to them.

We're from different worlds: Me, wanting to describe the many esoteric and substantial ways in which my email's downtime is affecting the quality of my work and, consequently, my fragile mood. And them, desiring only to know when and why the problem occurred, and what I had done to mess things up.

We just can't seem to reach an understanding.

When I call the help desk I want the problem addressed, sure. But what I really want is someone to empathize with me. I want the person on the line to say, "Oh my god, you've been without email for how long? That's ridiculous! How are you even getting any work done? You poor thing. This must really be stressful. I'll open a ticket right this second and send one of the Cute Boys over. And I'll specifically tell him to bring you glazed donuts. And coffee."

Possibly I would like a little metaphorical hand holding and shoulder patting as well.

Instead, they say things like, "Yes, there is a known server issue at your location. Do not worry."

Okay, she did tell me not to worry. At least they seem to be making an effort.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Matilda came home from school Friday lugging five hundred pounds of fundraiser candy, all of which is now stockpiled in her room. She's supposed to sell it to finance her way to camp in October.

And hold on, before you start thinking this post is a plea for candy purchases, let me assure you that quite the opposite it true. I'm discouraging Matilda from doing any active selling, because as long as that candy is sitting here I have the option of scrounging up $1 in nickels and swiping a Snickers.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Hair update: I profoundly love my hair color. Yay! I am a redhead. I would show you pictures, except for the unfortunate thing about my hair being attached to my head, which would violate my No Heads on Blog policy. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Starbucks update: If I don't get a frozen Starbucks beverage at some point in the next 48 hours I will throw this cute, fluffy hamster from a moving vehicle into oncoming traffic. Save a hamster. Knit with me at Starbucks tomorrow night. Who's in?

Knitting update: This little nightgown is just about kicking my ass. I keep telling myself it's not about the destination, it's the journey. Getting there is half the fun. Knowing is half the battle. I'm about halfway done. Despite the tedium of it, I kind of think I'll miss it when I'm finished. It's the most long-term project I've ever attempted, and it's a real lesson in living in the moment -- I will never knit this pattern again, I will never use this yarn again. This experience is happening now, and when it's over it will never be repeated.

Dog update: It has come to my attention that Finnegan is jockeying for the number two position in our pack, looking to knock me down and take up at Alpha Male's right hand. Gary noticed that when he and I snuggle on the couch, Finnegan fidgets and acts all needy. When Gary pats my leg, Finnegan sneaks his nose under Gary's hand and tries to slither up into the pet-me zone. To test the theory, Gary playfully rubbed my belly and I rolled over with my paws in the air… Finnegan went ballistic, climbed my husband and started nosing him in the face. Now Gary likes to mess with the dog by shooting him a look and then blatantly coming over and scratching behind my ears.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

As I type this, I'm a good fifteen minutes past the point of no return and well on the way to Herbal Essences' Radiant Ruby.

It itches. Oh how it itches.

And yes, I know I always do red. But I don't believe I've ever tried THIS particular shade of red, and that makes me slightly impulsive-crazy but not leave-your-kids-at-Walmart-on-accident crazy.

Okay! Time to go see if my hair falls out. And I'm not saying that wouldn't be amusing too.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

If you were working at the computer and all of a sudden a huge, black, hairy moth interposed itself between the computer screen and your head… would you jump back out of your chair and yell things like holy shit and fuck?

No, of course you wouldn't. Moths can't hurt you. They're just dumb, light-seeking, butterfly-type bugs.

It certainly wouldn't make you rapidly back away from your office door watch anxiously as the moth fluttered around your ceiling, your pulse pounding in your ears.

As the moth descended and crawled behind your office chair, I'm sure you wouldn't feel the need to cautiously poke and kick the chair with your outstretched toe, hoping to provoke the moth out of hiding so you could call someone else over to deal with it.

Okay, and I'm sure if you couldn't get the moth to come out, you wouldn't be sitting on the edge of your chair listening for signs of the moth's movement or intent, ready to freak out and bolt at the merest sign of it.

Because that would be silly.

Monday, August 22, 2005

If a problem can be solved, there is no point being unhappy.
If a problem cannot be solved, there is also no point being unhappy.
-- Shantideva

I'd like to be zen, but I'm crabby.

It's really hard to leave a sobbing little girl at preschool on her second day. It's heartbreaking, actually.

My fingernails are inexplicably brittle.

None of my clothes fit.

The air conditioner broke.

The chiropractor wants more money.

I can't find my favorite black sandals.

That's all, I think.

No wait. Also the tap water at work smells like feet.

That's it.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Someday there will be a reality TV show dedicated to the World's Smelliest Vomit, and Gertrude will be worth several million.

Oh yes, Gertrude vomits and miles away a dozen emergency response teams don hazmat suits and ask which way to the biological disaster.

Gertrude vomits and around the world hundreds of bulimics are instantly cured.

It eats through ceramic tile. It corrodes metal.

Even the dog runs from it.

And worse, it hits the floor running and slithers into cracks so that days later you'll still be smelling the vomit that's hiding, breathing, and spawning inside the walls.

Friday, August 19, 2005

First, a bit of shameless bragging. After a few IQ tests and knowledge inventories recommended by her teacher last year, Matilda made it into Alpha, colloquially known as the "gifted" program. Whether this is a good thing or bad depends on whom you ask. Personally I think it's pretty cool to have a kid who can out-logic and out-analogy both her parents with several brain synapses tied behind her back.

So one day a week, they pull the Alpha kids out of regular classes and bus them off to the middle school where their delicate little brains will be nurtured and cultivated in a plan to take over the world.

They're being indoctrinated into the secret nerd society. Cool.

So last night they asked all the Alpha parents and their little Alphas were asked to sit in on an Alpha orientation for the coming school year. Matilda and I went, feeling very Gilmore Girls.

I'm not sure what I was expecting. Executive blonde mothers in suits with blonde, perfectly groomed and nannied children? At-home mothers waving flashcards and living vicariously through their bright-eyed little Baby Einsteins? Not really. Lots of normal-seeming people who, like me, were just trying to figure out which forms to fill out and give to which teacher.

We slid into hard plastic seats near the back of the middle school cafeteria and watched the Alphas file in. I discretely pulled out my knitting so as to avoid having to interact.

Matilda was horrified. "Mom!" she said. "You're not going to knit during this, are you?"

"No!" I lied. "Just until they start talking."

When they started talking and I was still knitting, Matilda gave me many dirty looks.

Welcome, etc., said the program director. And then he smiled broadly and said something about these kids being the future and having the potential to change the world.

I kicked Matilda. "That's you!" I hissed.

"Shut up," she pleaded.

The teachers came to the podium one by one and explained different things about the program. One of them described how hard the kids work and all the wonderful things they accomplish throughout the year.

I leaned over and whispered, "Sounds like a lot of work. Should we bail?"

She ignored me. I poked her.

She glared at me.

"You smart kids are no fun," I said.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I keep having dreams about being fired, and it's really an unpleasant feeling being without a paycheck and insurance. I really do appreciate that insurance. I very much enjoy not having to worry about anything but co-pays to cover hospitalizations and tooth-pullings. And I know that merely by giving voice to these fears I'm guaranteeing that something unfortunate will befall me. I'm superstitious that way.

Two "you're fired" dream in a week. It's got to have something to do with my deep-seated feelings of incompetence on the job and the conviction that no one likes me. But I really would like to keep my job, and so…

Dear boss of mine, who undoubtedly reads this site and is fully knowledgeable of the fact that I sometimes blog instead of work (like now),

I am not perfect. I sometimes feel unmotivated and unchallenged or completely out of my league on a project. This doesn't mean you should fire me! I bring a lot to the table, actually.

Like, for example, I often bring that chocolate ├ęclair cake to potlucks. Depite the fact that it really only takes about ten minutes to make, it tastes like I poured my whole heart and soul into it. Which I did, I believe! For ten minutes. And that is the kind of dedication you should appreciate in an employee.

In addition, I am not currently pregnant. No maternity leave to plan around! Yet! Er, I mean, ever! I think. Let's move on.

In terms of job performance, I may not be the flashiest writer on staff but I do have an excellent history of correct spellings. I'm not to bad with verb agreement, either. Plus also, I have never used the word "modicum" to my knowledge with any degree of seriousness.

And let us not forget who recently spent several hours reorganizing the supply closet and labeling the shelves. The extra five seconds saved every time you don't have to search for those pens you like… well, you can thank me for that.

And let's just ignore all those visits to knitty.com on my Internet activity log, okey doke? It was business-related.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

I arrived at work with a throbbing need-caffeine headache, despite the obnoxiously large travel mug of coffee in my hand. What is that all about? Then I realized. My brain must have heard the rumor that due to circumstanced beyond our control (Meet the Teacher night at school), I'll be foregoing the usual Tuesday night Starbucks/knitting fix upon which brain and I have become so dependent. It is truly sad that my brain has come to anticipate caffeine shortages and respond accordingly.

I conclude that Starbucks coffee is ten times more habit forming than crack. It has to be. I've been drinking coffee my entire adult life and have never felt dependent on it the way I do on this stuff. It's over-roasted and poorly brewed, but throw in some sugar and I keep going back. Why? I don't know!

Of course, this obviously means it's time to shrug off the Starbucks monkey. Time to renew my commitment to living a healthy lifestyle that does not accomodate an addiction to creamy, frothy, caffeinated beverages, iced or otherwise. I deserve the right to freely choose whether to indulge in a grande mint mocha chip Frappuccino – not because of a chemical urging, but because I feel like it.

Unfortunately right now I really, really feel like it.

I love you, little monkey. Come here and let mama scritch behind your ears.

Monday, August 15, 2005

If you happen to be one of the few people in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area with power after this weekend's storms, and if you by chance ever dabble in the fiber arts, please make quality use of your Internet connectivity by laughing your ass off at You Knit What??

Being published in a pattern doesn't make it okay, people.

Meanwhile, I've been "commissioned" to knit a backpack for someone known to me only through Craftster. I told her I could probably get it done in a few weeks. That was two days ago. I'm almost halfway done. I know…obsess much? She seems like a cool chick so I'm optimistic she'll come through on the payment side. Knitting for fun and profit! I asked Gary if I could now quit my job and knit full time, but he said no (damn).

Saturday, August 13, 2005

An interesting postscript to the Instead test...

It's Saturday morning and there I am in the shower, indulging in a good, leisurely leg shave. In mid-lather, Gary bursts into the bathroom.

"EWW! The dog got your bloody toilet paper out of the trash!"

"Ew!" I agreed, and resumed my business, figuring a little toilet paper is nothing a grown man can't deal with.

A few minutes later, I heard screaming. "Oh my God! Oh my God! He's eating it!!!"

I reluctantly shut off the water and grabbed a towel.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the sounds coming out of my children were of laughter or crying. My husband met me in the hall with an expression of horror on his face that defies description. "Oh. My. God," he said.

"What?" I said, "The toilet paper?"

Gary pointed. The children were indeed laughing. The dog was lounging in the middle of the kitchen, casually gnawing on a pink rubber ring.

"OH MY GOD!!!" I shouted.

And then I laughed so hard I think brains came out of my nose.

Friday, August 12, 2005

And now, friends, I present to you the conclusion of yesterday's product testing. For those of you just joining us, yesterday around 2 p.m. found me leaving the office for an afternoon of meetings, squeezing my thighs together to prevent a rubber donut from launching itself into restricted airspace.

2:10 – Promise carpool people would be right back and ran to restroom for one last place check. Product seemed to be holding steady. Retrieve maxi pad from machine on wall for backup. Mildly berate self for not thinking of doing this sooner.

2:17 – Confide in coworker about product testing, to circumvent the need to spill to random folks at happy hour later. Voice concerns about being shaped weird.

2:44 – Stop in swanky restroom at hotel to check. Leakage. Blah. Reposition. Congratulate self for picking up pad.

3:15 – Hate this.

3:28 – Hate this.

3:42 – Hate this. Never doing this again. Very uncomfortable. Actually, hate everything in the room right now. Hate uncomfortable hard chairs. Hate speaker. Hate stupid slide show. Grrrr.

3:55 – Escape meeting and head for restroom. More leakage. Very frustrated. Consider giving up. No, must not give up. Probably just doing it wrong. Deep breath, relax. Hmmm? Well, okay! Definitely feel a difference. Still aware of it, but less "popping out" anxiety. This is probably more right. Exit stall with confidence and hope.

4:30 – Find self in small, intimate conference room, seated directly across from head of Market Development. Consider winking inappropriately.

4:36 – Hey there, Mister Market Development. Guess what my cervix is wearing right now?

5:08 – Raise pencil and ask probing question. Deliberately place too much emphasis on the word "instead," causing me to giggle on the inside.

6:20 – Things are not going too badly. Then again, I am holding a glass of Merlot.

9:12 – Join husband on couch for post-child couple time in front of TV. Show him the box. He is horrified. I sometimes forget he's not as fascinated by female biology as I am. As I'm explaining the concept to him, he interjects, "But what happens if your cup runneth over?" Groan.

9:48 – Completely give up. This is not working. It's no fun. It's not worth it.

9:52 – Study package directions intently. Examine illustrations. Have an epiphany. Down and back! Maybe…?

10:00 – One last try, and this is it. I mean it.

10:03 – Wow. I feel nothing. Nothing! WOW! It worked!

10:07 – So ecstatic! Bounce down steps to feed cat. Do several leg lifts in the kitchen. Squat. Jump. Whee. This feels like not even having a period.

6:42 a.m. – All night, no leakage! Success.

Conclusion: If you can get the hang of using it properly, Instead is really great. I couldn't even tell it was there, and it was like having a completely normal, non-period day. However, there's a lot of inappropriate touching involved. It's slightly messy. And it really doesn't like to be positioned incorrectly. Plus, the more I think about it, I'm not sure I'm crazy about landing all those rubber rings in the landfills. I don't see why you couldn't wash them out and reuse them, but it's probably got something to do with spooky bacteria, and that's good enough for me. I'm going to check out the Diva Cup since it's reusable. At the very least, I could see using something like this overnight and on weekends.

Now, I really, really promise not to discuss menstrual blood with you again for a very long time.

I hope eventually I can persuade the boys to come back into the room. It's safe, y'all.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Those of you who enjoy making boys cringe at the mention of things like tampons and childbirth will appreciate this. Next time the conversation lags, ask the woman next to you if she's heard of Instead.

This happened at work the other day, immediately causing two males to stand up and exit the room.

Instead, as the website boasts, is "a unique, proven advancement in period protection."

My friend at work described it as more of "a plastic condom attached to a thick rubber band."

She went on to tell how well it works, and in the process actually mimed the removal technique, which we nicknamed the Hook-and-Pull.

I decided I must try it.

As a public service for my readers, exclusively on this website, I hereby dedicate Heavy Flow Day #1 to personally testing and reporting my impressions of Instead.

8:35 – Stop at Walgreens to purchase product. $6.99 for a box of 12. If, as stated on the packaging, each one can be worn for 12 hours, this represents an economical bonus. I use the pad/tampon tag team technique, which is effective but not cheap.

9:17 – Close door to office and begin perusing the product website. Am highly, highly, HIGHLY relieved to learn after a few clicks that their "send us a picture of you using Instead" is not a call for money shots, but rather a marketing campaign featuring real women in real life scenarios.*

9:48 – Time for a tampon change, which means subbing in product on its first rotation. Exciting! Feeling a little tingly as I pop open the box. Nothing like shaking up the routine now and then. I remember my first tampon was just as thrilling. Inside the box are 12 neat purple packages that look a lot like ultrathin pads.

9:50 – Open packaging and remove product. Aw, isn't it cute! It looks just like a big, fat diaphragm.

9:51 – Now how the…?

9:52 – Oh! Okay. That makes so much more sense.

9:53 – "*&)(*$&#*(@)#($&$#*(@#)($&#*$#(*#!!!!!!!!! Fu&*ing mother )(&#(*#$&!!

9:57 – Feeling lighter, freer, and quite wonderful, actually. Why doesn't everyone use these? It's the tampon revolution, I tell you! This is the best feeling in the world!

10: 02 – Is it working? How do I know if it's working? What if it's not working? Why, oh, why didn't I wear a backup pad? Am I stupid or something? I'm way too trusting. This is going to be a disaster. Like a murder scene. Wish I'd brought a change of clothes. Stupid, stupid, stupid…

10:06 – Leakage! I sense leakage! Run to the bathroom for a Hook-and-Pull. Hmm. No. Product seems to be working perfectly.

10:07 – Thought this would be easier the second time. Goddamnmotherfu…

10:14 – Feeling a bit like if I sat down wrong it might cause product to shoot out and thwak someone in the eye.

10:31 – Acutely aware of feeling completely normal. This is so weird. Something must be wrong.

10:45 – Another leakage scare reveals no leakage whatsoever.

11:58 – Finally starting to relax a bit.

11:59 – Yes! This is great! Love this product! Am never going back to tampons!

12:05 – Realize I have a happy hour with important people tonight and probably should not drink at all. Am quite sure I would end up telling a VP all about my experiences with Instead.

1:10 – Just managed to entirely forget about leak worries for over an hour! Need to pee. Confidently proceed to bathroom, only to discover leakage. Small and spotty. No big deal. This is Heavy Flow Day #1, after all. Obviously Heavy Flow Day can defeat even the most dedicated period protection device. Removal, however, was not unlike a murder scene. A little disturbing to see that much blood at once (yet kind of cool).

1:16 – Aware of someone entering stall next to me. Resist strong urge to "drop" bloody toilet paper.

1:18 – Reinstall device. Slightly easier this time, but really starting to question whether I want to be this familiar with my anatomy multiple times per day.

1:52 – Product feels like it's in a perpetual state of slipping out and running away to join the circus, which is really unnerving if not uncomfortable. Realize it was a terrible idea to test anything while on one's period. Mood swings causing me to hate product right now. Wishing someone would invent a cure for cramps.

2:00 – Leaving office to attend long meetings at really swanky downtown hotel, followed by happy hour. This scenario all but guarantees disaster.** Will keep you posted.

* Since I have always been extremely grossed out by those "Tampax was here" TV spots (especially the beach scenes), this approach did not win points with me.

** Possibility exists that Instead SoftCups make really great frisbees in meetings.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Wee Juniper


juni
Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

This is not my baby. That is not me holding someone else's baby. But I did have the opportunity to hold this particular baby yesterday when she was brought in to work for a visit.

Of course I held her! And again. And again. And then while she was sleeping. And then one more time.

I want one of these in a bad way.

My youngest is starting school, after all.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Psychologists will tell you that The Monsters are a child's manifestations of uncertainties and fears surrounding events in their lives. But you can't really tell that to a three-year-old.

The Monsters have recently moved in with Gert. In part, I blame the impending start of preschool. In part, I also blame this book. But with Gert's imagination, I knew it was only a matter of time.

Gert will describe to you exactly what The Monsters sound like when they talk in their growly voices at night. She'll tell you what they look like, where they sit in her room, and what time of night they usually show up.

Gert came into my bed around 4:30 this morning and plopped her head down on my pillow. " I didn't close my eyes all night," she said.

"You can't sleep?" I asked, pulling her into bed with me.

"Sometimes," said Gert, "if you keep your eyes open, The Monsters won't come."

I thought about repeating the it's-in-your-imagination speech, but I was too tired. Gert, however, was clearly not, and she proceeded to tell me (in very animated tones) every detail about last night's encounters.

"My bed was spinning! And I would sit up, and I would get really dizzy. And the pictures on my wall turned into diamonds. Not the Lance picture, but my Bambi picture did. And it started to spin. And the walls were spinning too. And The Monsters came when I closed my eyes. But when I opened my eyes, they would not come. So I kept opening my eyes all night. But then my ceiling turned into a tunnel! And your ceiling looks like a tunnel too! But my eyes are open so I don't see any Monsters. They talk like this – GRROWLLERROWWLL! And when I looked at the window it looked like morning, so I thought I could wake up. Because Monsters only come at night time. But then I went potty, and when I came in here it was still night time…"

I haven't told you this, but I have an overactive imagination too. I sometimes lay in bed awake totally paralyzed with fear that aliens have stolen my husband and replaced him with an alien. Or that if I put my feet over the side of the bed to go to the bathroom, something will grab my ankles.

I still remember being about Gert's age and Actually Seeing Monsters. They were cartoonish and a little transparent, but I watched them wander around my room, climb into my baby brother's crib, and swing from a chair.

Gert's talk about beds spinning and gravelly monster voices was giving me the serious willies.

Then Gert leaned over with her face close to mine and put both hands on my cheeks. "Mom! One of The Monsters has eyes like a flashlight!"

Craaap.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Help, my littlest girl is starting preschool and I'm completely flipping out. How did she suddenly attain the ability count to twelve, write the letter "C," and run in a circle around a group of seated children, slapping them in the head and yelling about ducks and geese?

She's going to school, and somewhere upstairs in the same building her sister will be sitting in a fifth-grade classroom learning about things like ecology and geometry (and she'll be enjoying it too, because she's weird like that).

I'm now frantically finishing the cross-stitch baby blanket I started for little Gertrude when I first found out I was pregnant.

I was sitting on the couch with it yesterday, trying to untangle a knot in a thread that was supposed to be the outline of a teddy bear's head. Gert came over and poked her nose into what I was doing.

I told her, "I'm making a baby blanket for my very special little baby girl."

"THAT'S ME!" Gert squealed. "That blanket is for me? I get a blanket?"

I told her yes, and she squealed some more, and then did a little dance on her toes.

Then Matilda ran into her room and showed Gert "Baby Blank," which is the cross-stitched blanket I made for her when she was a baby. It's looking a little worn, but it's in pretty good shape considering she's slept with it for the past 10 years.

Gert said to me, "Can I have my blankie now?"

"I'm almost done with it. I just have a few more outlines to sew."

"Can I sleep with it tonight?"

This all made me feel very much appreciated and incredibly guilty. The child is about to start preschool, and good God, here I am still stitching her "first" baby blanket.

"Gert, I promise I'll be done with your blankie before preschool starts."

At least three separate times last night, Gert sat up in bed and called out, "Mom… are you still working on my blanket?"

I am, actually.

I'm working on it now. And now. And also right now. Good night, Gracie.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Fish guts and more


table rock waves
Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

In my blogging absence, I managed to convince my two neurotic daughters that it was safe to wade into unchlorinated lake water.

Yes, you might step on a fish. Yes, you might get your head cut off by speeding boats. But that's all okay because the waves feel cool and wet on your little toes, and you're children, and this is what summers are for.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I'm going to be turning 30 in November, which will mean that I can no longer consider myself a teenager.

I don't think it's too early to start coming to terms with the implications. It's going to mean a major shift in perspective. A reckoning with my list of Things I'll Accomplish Before I'm 30. And time for a new list:

How Turning 30 Is Different (and coincidentally, better) Than Turning 20

1. My love life. Yay! I'm one of those lucky people that got matched up with a soul mate. And now we have this stable and nifty thing called a marriage. Much better than finding out the person you thought you were in a relationship with was actually sleeping with two of your closest friends. Two! Not one. Yikes.
2. Finances. I have a career, y'all. I'm not working two jobs plus a work-study in the cafeteria at school. I can buy grown-up things like a house and a car. I have a retirement plan. I have life insurance. I have a bedspread that didn't come from Goodwill.
3. Parenting. Can I just tell you how nice it is not to always be the youngest mother in every playgroup? And how nice it is to be parenting with an invested partner? It's nice. It's also nice not to have random strangers offering me advice like "You should put some socks on that baby's feet!" Because I guess now I look like I know what I'm doing. Or maybe now I just look mean and unapproachable.
4. My goal weight. Then: 97. Now: 118. Progress!
5. Creative outlets Knitting is so much more portable and (dare I say it?) practical than hauling around loads of paints of other supplies for a creative fix. I wonder if I had been knitting at 20 if I wouldn't have minded so much that my boyfriend was a fuckwit and I felt compelled to work things out because of baby Matilda. At least I could have knitted some witty diaper covers.

Weird, I'm nearly a grown-up.

Friday, July 15, 2005

On my drive to work, there's a certain left turn that I never feel confident making without a green arrow. It's on a busy street, with oncoming traffic coming up over a hill around a curve. You can't actually see the car barreling toward you until you're halfway into the turn. So I usually sit there and wait for the arrow.

Inevitably, there is a middle-aged man in an SUV behind me in the turn lane, just itching to lurch into traffic and arrive at his destination one fraction of a second sooner. Often he's smoking a cigarette. Sometimes he's a woman. But regardless, my sitting at the green light ahead of him as traffic whizzes by is infuriating.

At the slightest break in traffic, I can somehow read his thoughts: "Come on! You could have made it!"

I anticipate the honk:

HONK.

I know without even looking that he's shaking his head at me in disgust.

I glance in my rear-view window. Yep! There's the head shake. Occasionally it will be punctuated by an angry drag on the cigarette.

I used to take it personally, but it's become so routine now that I almost count on it. I think it's funny that no matter who is in that SUV behind me, they unfailingly participate in the traffic break/honk/head shake ritual. They probably don't even realize that every SUV that's gone before them in that same turn lane has experienced the same frustration at my little green car's failure to make that left-hand turn.

They should take comfort in that, I think. It'll give them something to do while they sit there and fume.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Sometimes when the kids are clingy and clients are complaining (and vice versa) I find myself thinking things like, "What I really need is a good bout of the flu to make me stay in bed and knit for several days."

What I fail to remember is that the flu doesn't make you want to sit in bed and knit. It makes you want to curl up in a fetal position and wish for death. It also occurred to me that weeks 6 through 12 of pregnancy felt a lot like that, and so, no thank you, we won't be having any more babies in the near future. I'm just glad that after several days of compulsive vomiting I no longer have to know what my food looks like after I swallow it.

In the meantime, the spiders in my house have disappeared as mysteriously as they arrived. This lends credence to both Jim's and Carole's theories below, that a) they were venturing inside in search of moisture because it has been so rainless lately; or b) that something very primal and female-weaver-spirit-ish was trying to make itself known.

I listened to the spiders. I finished one of the ten thousand half-finished knitting projects stuffed behind my shelf, and lo! They are gone. Huzzah.

Plus, summer rain makes me happy. Knitting while it's raining is pure joy, I tell you. It's better than s'mores.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Gertrude decided last night that it was high time she showed everyone the contents of her stomach. Repeatedly. And that is why I have this knot on my head. Because at 2:42 a.m. when one is sleeping on sofa cushions on the floor beside a sick child, and that child suddenly bolts upright screaming, "Mama, PUKE!!!"… well, it is very easy for your feet to become entangled in your blanket while lunging for the trash can. And you can very easily wind up cracking your head on the bed post of child's bed.

As such, I'm too exhausted to pick up toys strewn about my living room or to fill the dishwasher with virus-contaminated water cups and plates holding crumpled, half-eaten pieces of dry toast.

I am not, however, too exhausted to finish eating the entire fruit pizza we had stashed in the freezer. Frozen fruit pizza is even better than fresh fruit pizza. And those frozen strawberries (embedded in frozen cream cheese frosting, atop a frozen sugar cookie crust) have assured me they contain enough super-charged vitamin C to keep a thousand viruses at bay.

So I obviously have nothing to worry about.

Except those really cute size 7 jeans I just bought on clearance. That was stupid, what with fruit pizza in the freezer and all.