Thursday, May 26, 2005

80s flashback

Fashion plates
Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

Hey, remember Fashion Plates?

Remember the little back crayon that slid longways into that little plastic grip, and how smooth and flat the crayon would get on one edge after a day filled with the rubbing of heads and torsos?

That didn't come out right. But you know what I mean!

I almost squealed when Diana brought out a box of these as I was dropping the kids off at daycare. Maybe I did squeal, I didn't notice. I was instantly immersed in a full-on flashback to my childhood -- I even saw everything around me dissolve into wavy streams and I heard the noonooleenoo flashback music.

Oh, the dainty little lines of the tiniest little detail captured by the side of a crayon, the impossibly lashy eyes, the curves of lace trim on a skirt and the deliberate straight lines that traveled the length of a leg in shorts.

I'm sure I liked to draw before I got my set of Fashion Plates, but it was this toy that got me hooked on it like crack. Fashion Plates is like a sketch on steroids. Behold, a blank piece of paper... and with just the mere flick of a crayon, behold! Exactly the image I had envisioned appears on that blank page.

And that's where the colored pencils came in. Hoo, lordy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I wish I'd known this when I was single. Apparently all a girl has to do to attract attention is try to buy tomato cages at Ace Hardware on her lunch break wearing a skirt and chunky heels.

First of all, I haven't sold out completely. I normally wear jeans to work. It's just that I had a pitch meeting this morning. I didn't want it to be just, "Look how clever this concept is!" I was going for more of, "Look! I came up with this and still had time to throw on a skirt. My team must really be hot shit."

Anyway, over the weekend I ran short of tomato cages while I was planting, and that left the shrimpy little tomatoes sitting there on the ground very exposed to rabbits and strong winds. They're babies. They need love and cages.

So figuring that since tonight is knitting and the girls have a date with their dad to ride some kind of double-decker merry-go-round at the mall, I ran up to Ace at lunch.

"I would-a figured you were heading into the tanning place!" said a man hanging out by the Ace entrance. There's a tanning salon next door, but I've never tanned in my life unless you count forgetting to put on sunscreen at last weekend's gradeschool picnic. I'm what you'd describe as pale. Pasty, white pale, with occasional pink splotches.

"Yeah," I said, somewhat confused. What the hell? You're not supposed to comment on other people's state of paleness. It's rude.

"How you doin'!" called the overly friendly guy behind the counter as I headed for the gardening aisle.

"I'm fine, how are you," I said, thinking that, my goodness, this was the home of the helpful hardware man.

"You need any help finding anything today?" asked Friendly Man #3.

Yikes. "I think I've got it covered!" I assured him.

Friendly Man #4 approached me as I was untangling tomato cages from a stack. "How many of those you need? Need me to hold those bottom ones while you pull them off the top?"

I could feel the smile freezing on my face into something resembling a snarl. "Actually, I can handle it! Thanks anyway."

Then, as I was standing in line with my stack of tomato cages, Friendly Man #5 slipped into line behind me. "Looks like someone's growing tomatoes!" he observed.

"I have two breasts and a vagina," I replied.

No, I didn't really.

Because if you say the word "vagina" out loud in a hardware store, the support beams start to melt and everything shrouded in testosterone disintegrates into a pile of ash.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

Meet Nippers, my cell phone cat. Sorry the photo is a bit blurry. You know how it is to try and get pets to sit still for a picture.

I've found she's especially twitchy in the morning before her first cup of coffee.

I started knitting her on Saturday at Matilda's school picnic. We spread a blanket out under a tree near the playground equipment so Gertrude could climb and I could lunge into action as soon as she would start to fall.

Let me tell you, knitting a cell phone cover in the form of a cat will make you amazingly popular with all the nine-year-olds. I had several children tell me they wished I was their mom.

I'm enjoying that while it lasts. In just a few years, I bet the very idea of me knitting a cat-shaped cell phone cover in public will make Matilda burst into tears of embarrassment.

I always knew I'd be an embarrassing parent, I just didn't know it would be so much fun!

Friday, May 20, 2005

You know that whole Myers-Briggs business of INFP, ESTJ, etc? Introvert versus extrovert, thinking versus feeling? If you have no idea what I'm talking about, take a short version of the test here and find out your personality type.

I'm a self-proclaimed pseudo-expert on it now because I recently had to bring everyone on my team up to speed on the subject. And as INFPs tend to be "awkard and uncomfortable with expressing themselves verbally," I can't explain anything to anyone unless I feel like an expert.

Anyway, while I was doing a ridiculous amount of reading on the subject, I started thinking that in the face-to-face world there's a certain type of person who is most socially prized – the ENFP. They're outgoing, warm, idealistic, creative, and enthusiastic. ENFPs are well-liked and highly regarded by everyone around them, and social interactions are as natural as breathing.

This is not at all me, but it's the way I've always wished I was. I admire people who can carry on effortless conversations and make others feel instantly welcome and at ease at a party.

It seems like everywhere I look the world is filled with these friendly, expressive, chatty people… so what is wrong with me? I'd rather write about how I feel than talk about it, I feel perfectly happy in a room by myself, and if I'm at a party I'd really rather sit and get to know one person well than struggle to remember a room full of names and personal details.

I used to think I didn't like people, but that's not true. I'm actually pretty much neurotic about wanting people to be happy and trying to make sure everyone gets along. I'm just a less-is-more gal when it comes to socializing. And that makes me different and weird.

But the dynamics in the blogging world seem completely reversed.

People who would rather write than talk are naturally drawn to blogs, whereas people who are happiest around friends are out interacting in the physical world. The online world is a place where the loudest voice is not necessarily the one that attracts attention – it's the most articulate voice. It's the one with something interesting to say. People who can effortlessly shape words into thoughts and new ideas, who can draw emotion out of the reader, those are the most socially prized types among bloggers.

So the introverts who always felt different and weird in a world of extroverts come online and find a world populated largely by other introverts. Where everyone's weird, no one is.

It's nice that we all have a place, that's all.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

It's for you...

Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

Look at her, isn't she a thing of beauty?

Sad thing is, the dog is already getting more calls than me. It's no secret he has a richer social life. Now he gets to rub my nose in it.

But only I have the thumb dexterity required to flip it open. Ha.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

You're all going to think this is hilarious. I don't own a cell phone.

What's even funnier is that the one and only time I ever did have a "cell" phone was a decade ago, back in 1995. It was a sexy model, too. A big, plastic handset attached by a coil cord to a black, pleather bag the size of my grandmother's beach tote. To make a call, you had set the thing up on the passenger's seat of your yellow, 1982 Ford hatchback and plug it into the cigarette lighter. Then you'd extend the fat, plastic antenna, wait for the power bars to line up, and try to correctly dial a number on the rubbery little keypad.

And be prepared to justify any use of the phone to your mother, who had you on the "emergency only" plan of $3,874.69 per minute, off-peak.

It should come as no surprise that when I left home and turned in my bag phone, I didn't have it high on my list of priorities to acquire a new one.

By the time I did realize cell phones were much cooler than they used to be, my husband came to own of one of today's very coolest communication devices, the
. I siphoned off enough cool from him to keep me happy for a while.

And besides, every time he hands me his phone to take when I go out, I turn into a retarded person and juggle it like it's a radioactive grenade. "What do I press? Where do I talk? Am I supposed to push this first? What do I do if it rings? What does this do? Where's the antenna???"

Well, laugh no more. I'm getting a cell phone. And I'm going to learn how to use it like the reasonable, intelligent adult I pretend to be. Either that, or it will become a really expensive fashion accessory, which, if it's cool enough, isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I can't wait to knit it a cozy…

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Less than an hour yesterday after my rebuke of Burpee's shipping, Gary called to inform me that my plants had been delivered.

I took them out of the box and noted that they all looked exceptionally sturdy and difficult to kill, which is an important consideration in any garden of mine. In fact, considering that they had just traveled across the country packed in cardboard, they came out looking like they could kick the ass of any other plant that so much as glanced at them sideways.

I set the butch plants up by a window in the garage to harden off (which they seemed to think meant something else), and I reassured my tray of wussy, seed-started hot peppers that they were being safely planted on opposite sides of the strip.

Eventually they're all going to end up in the same salsa. I hope they can resolve their differences before then.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Notice to all concerned. It is a scientifically proven fact that unchecked consumption of Rolos will lead to weight gain. It is further known that certain individuals possess an unusual sensitivity to Rolos, which results in an inability to stop eating them once their presence has been detected.

I can personally attest to both of the above statements.

And now, a prize for the best interpretation of this dream:

I'm in a room with no doors or windows. I have a bucket of white paint and a paint brush, and I'm painstakingly painting the entire room white. As I finish the last spot, I'm aware of someone standing behind me – a monk or priest, or someone who is giving off an aura of wisdom. He says, "Now, what have you learned?"

Rolos are my favorite, favorite thing, I think. Because they contain the perfect caramel.

My beans, cucumbers, and hot peppers have sprouted, making mama immensely proud of their quick germination. Which brings up an interesting point: hey, Burpee…? Where are the tomatoes and sweet peppers I ordered back in February?

Please can you send them? I really need to be eating more vegetables and fewer Rolos.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

Why do I have a sinking feeling that it was a bad idea to introduce a certain thrillseeking child to anything with wheels and a power source?

I don't think we've seen the last of Dirtbike Gert...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Seems like most of my brochures lately have needed really specific types of people on them, in really specific settings. When that happens, one must ditch Stock Photo Annie (and her ethnic friend, Sister Diversity) in favor of picking up the digital camera and cornering one's co-workers.

Today, I was in need of a dental assisting student in her early or mid-twenties. Female. Non-Caucasian.

"Hey, Connie…" I said to a certain graphic designer on my team. Who also happens to be female. And Korean. "How photogenic are you feeling today?"

I used to think this was a delicate subject, the idea of using someone's race or gender to fill a gap in a photo. I think you lose that touchiness the first time you find yourself on a college campus running down a checklist and shouting to your partner, "We have our Asian females but we still need at least two black males 18-24. Hey, there goes one! Go get him! We have pizza, offer him pizza!"

Connie agreed to be my dental assistant, and my partner Jon and I scouted for a homey-looking office with good light. I closed the door behind them and turned to Connie. "All right, the first thing I'm going to need you to do is take off your top."

"The camera loves you," added Jon. "You are a lioness."

"You're both going to be med-surg patients in my next brochure."

It worries me, because I think Connie is promoting an obstetrics textbook.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Mother's Day was the best ever, filled with sunshine and dirt, flower seeds, mulching, and the hacking down of overgrown shrubbery. A good time was had by all, but mostly me, because I had the least to do with the shrub removal and everyone just gritted their teeth agreeably and did what I told them.

The bushes came apart in long branches, which meant that the girls immediately took off with them and constructed a fort by leaning them up against the fence. It's cool when they get along. And Gary and I both got a little nostalgic about how much we both used to love playing outside with random bits of nature.

With the oppressive bushes removed and our yard cleared Feng Shui-like, I really could have sat in the sun and watched the kids play happily all day. But we decided to up the stakes and take them and the dog to the park, stopping along the way at 7-Eleven for necessities.

P.S. The dog has added Slurpies to his list of reasons to live. Mountain Dew, please.

One of my gifts this Mother's Day was a serene Buddha statue seated in front of my house. I love it. But I think Gert loves it more. "Can I go see the Buddha?" she keeps asking, so we go out the front door and she sits down reflectively on the walkway in front of the statue. If the neighbors didn't think we were weird before, they do now.

We had to visit the Buddha this morning before going to daycare too. She made a beeline out around the front of the house, plopped down on the walkway and regarded the statue with great seriousness. "Why do we have a Buddha?" she asked.

"Because he reminds us to be kind to all the living things," I said, supposing it was too early in the morning for lessons on mindfulness or attachment.

"I am kind!" said Gert.

"Yes, you are."

And then Gert stood up with great enthusiasm and planted her very kind foot down on one of my flowers.

Friday, May 06, 2005

I would like to make a deal with whatever karmic force is bestowing an endless string of migraines upon me this week:

Please stop. Name your price.

Now that that's out of the way, I'm happy to report that the refinance has evidently gone off without a hitch, saving us a few hundred dollars per month for the next 5,000,000 years, or however long it takes for a loan signed in blood to be paid off. So I've been entertaining myself by seeing how many different ways I can mentally spend that money.

Yes, a wiser person would invest it or save it toward some grander purpose. I am still young and foolish, as I have not yet turned 30. Are you really going to argue with a girl who's riding out her sixth consecutive migraine?

First I'm going to buy a set of sophisticated patio furniture. It will probably involve wrought iron and perhaps a mosaic table top. If I'm feeling fancy, we'll get the swivel chairs.

Then, of course, we'll have to buy a new grill for all the outdoor entertaining we'll be doing, and because, quite frankly, Gary's ribs deserve better.

And to keep the kids occupied while we're grilling and entertaining on the patio (with wine!), we'll need a sturdy swing set and perhaps a tree fort.

Since this means the kids will never want to come inside, we'll also start construction on the new deluxe double-paned glass doors that will be conveniently installed on the yard-facing side of the house. This way they can defy me in full view, and I can continue to drink wine in the air conditioning.

While reclining on a new velvet chaise lounge. Or something. Wow, my head hurts!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I normally try to make a point of not calling people out on this site because of things like ethics, common decency, and the fact that we are all beautiful and unique snowflakes.

But whatever.

Dear Anonymous Client:

You are annoyed with me because I gave you three days to review copy for a letter kit. You said, "THREE DAYS is not enough time for a careful review of copy!"

Just how carefully were you planning to review it?

Did you need to lay the pages out, end-to-end, in a brightly lit hallway so you could dance and flit among the paragraphs in your stocking feet? Did you need to analyze the placement and connotation of each preposition? Was there a need to scrutinize the font and point size of every letter?

Because sister, I wrote the thing in three days. I don't care who you are, if you need that much time to read a handful of generously spaced pages, your third grade teacher has failed you and that's the honest truth.

And it's not so much the fact that you're irritated with me about the short turnaround. I can understand that. It's the implication that I could have given you more time if I had only written it sooner. I'm sure you imagine me in my office shuffling papers around, rearranging paperclips, picking my fingernails until I sense that enough time has passed – now, now, if I give this letter kit to my client now I must ask for it back within THREE DAYS, and sweet Jesus, is it ever an emergency.

Good thing I didn't route it yesterday, or several weeks ago. Then there might have been enough time for a careful review of copy. Whatever all that entails.

The Surliest Copywriter in the World

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Less than an hour until we sign the refinance papers, and I don't know where to go. We could either be meeting at the mortgage office or the title company, and they're on opposite ends of the planet. So I hope they call me back and fill me in. I like a little drama as much as the next girl, but honestly.

While talking to Laura at knitting last night, I discovered that if I am ever to be truly happy, I must someday own a serger. That may sound extreme, but how else would I be able to trim, seam, and overcast in one simple step? It's just beyond inspiring.

Okay, off to sign my name eight hundred times and hope I'm not accidentally deeding my children to the state or anything sinister like that.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Congratulations Harper Rose! You picked a couple of really cool parents. And you got a pretty neat big sister too.

We're glad you're here!