Monday, May 26, 2008

Watching Paint Dry...

As I write this, it’s about 6:30 in the morning, a little late if I were to be rising to go to work, but not by much. The smell of paint fumes no longer registers, as it’s all I’ve smelled the past few days. The ground is saturated with rain from a sky that has been relentless the past few days. And I am sore in places I didn’t know existed.

Compared to next weekend, where I have work a special event for work on Saturday from 8am to sometime past midnight, the past few days have been almost relaxing.

And no, I’m not living for the weekend of the 7th, where I plan on doing nothing – why do you ask?

Barry and I have been wanting to paint our dining room for months. Maybe even months upon months. But there were a couple of stumbling blocks. Namely, time was a factor. We wanted to knock the room out and not work at it over the course of a few weekends. But there was also the fact that my Mother had put in a small extension wall in an attempt to enclose the kitchen. All it did was create a bottleneck when we had people over and cause delivery persons to curse us when anything had to be brought into the basement. The wall had to go. No sense painting the wall, only to tear it out later.

I tore out the drywall in the extension wall last weekend. Okay, so Barry helped. But I figured, enough talk. But the light switches – and the terrible wiring that went with it – proved to be more than either of us could handle, so we had to wait until this past Friday when Barry’s dad could help. He ever helped Barry take the wall frame out.

Let me back up a little and say that sometimes it’s cool to live in the house I grew up in. Sometimes it’s not. And sometimes it’s trippier than Hell. Coming home Friday and seeing the wall gone – the wall that I have known for about 20 years – with the original linoleum showing… Well, it dawned on me that having super short hair was appropriate because that’s the look I sported before the wall was put in. The more things change and all that.

Saturday came me painting the ceiling and Barry repairing the drywall. I hate painting ceilings, but who doesn’t? But the room is large and connects with the kitchen, so I had to add that to my painting dance card. Thank God, I wasn’t painting the kitchen walls, too!

I now have blisters on my hands and my wrists are still throbbing. Barry couldn’t paint the ceiling because he had neck surgery last September, but I think I have undiagnosed Carpel Tunnel. Barry suggested several times that we should invest in a sprayer, but despite my bitching, there’s something primal about painting. How often do I do physical labor of any real magnitude? While I won’t go so far as to say that I wear the blisters and blanket of soreness across my shoulders as a badge of honor, I will say that it’s satisfying to know that I can see the fruits of my labor every day. So yeah, worth it.

The dining room is now a soft grey. The kitchen, royal blue. The family room, brown, red and rose. The office, green and purple. The bedroom, aqua. I feel like I somehow am going in a new direction.

But the reason for the muted color choice was two-fold for me. I wanted something soothing while I was eating and we were also wanting to do something more architectural with the room. Sleek and mod and all that.

The grey looks amazing.

It’s also kinda cool to have an actual dining room. The house is a three bedroom ranch with a kitchen and two rooms that I grew up with as a living room and family room. Now, I see no difference between a family room and living room except the level of formalness. So not formal. The front room has a chandelier in it and our dining table always sat beneath it, used only when I did homework. It was designated a living room and had dated custom drapes that my Border Collier ate and dated green carpet that I tore out on a whim, only to discover gorgeous hardwood floors beneath. Not so gorgeous now with two dogs, but that’s not the point.

The point is that I got rid of the dining table and after many, many, many furniture arrangements, we now have a very comfortable family room where a room that was barely used once sat. The room that used to be the family room left us with a bit of a conundrum. I got rid of my dining table because I never grew up using it. Now, it seemed like a good idea to get one. To eat at. To have friends over to eat with us. To have friends over to play board games. To set things down on and walk away.

And a dining table would be perfect in the room that now had no purpose. Well, I guess it now had a purpose, huh?

So a little trim work today and some rearranging and we’re in business.

We’re just trying to figure out why the largest room in the house, give or take, has no ceiling light. So almost in business, but that’s a project for another weekend.

Until then, floor lamps are our friend.
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Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Short and the Long of It...

Last night I decided to get some things done that had been on my list for quite some time, but never near the top. I went to Kohls and bought some shorts. I have not bought new shorts in many years and have not actually worn any for the past year or two because I didn’t have any that fit.

Like most women, I hate shopping for pants, jeans, shorts. I am not the size I once was and the reality of it always hits home in dressing rooms. They are so depressing that I’m not sure why I don’t even hear cries of anguish or cursing of anger. I think it’s because we all blame the lighting. There’s no way we could look as bad as we do in the dressing rooms if it wasn’t for the lighting.

But, for some reason, I’ve had the best luck at Kohls.

I used to always buy at Marshalls and TJ Maxx, but they are so hit and miss that some days I’d make out like a bandit and other days I’d walk out so thoroughly frustrated that I swore I’d never go back. It got to the point where I was comparing it to a bad relationship.

So I cut ties with those stores for basic needs, putting them into the category of shoes and household items only, and moved on to Old Navy. It worked for a while, but either the store is sliding into a much younger direction or I’m sliding into a much older direction. I’m going with Old Navy moving away from me rather than the other way around.

I can’t really remember the epiphany I had over Kohls, but it was rather recent. I suppose it’s the residual effects of the Advil PM I took last night to sleep. However, in less than 30 minutes I walked out with four pairs of shorts. On sale, no less!

So then I hit the Goodwill by my house looking for more work tops. I really love the faux sweater/button down shirt combos that came out last fall because they’re dressy and comfy. My problem, which isn’t really a problem since it’s self-inflicted, is that I have tattoos on my upper arms and want to cover them for work. I know in the summertime I’ll hate the tops, but my department is generally kept pretty cool and I’ll only have to worry about the walk to the car and from the car. I hope.

I struck out at Goodwill. Bleh.

Off to get a pedicure!

I must admit that leaving the spa had some perks that I sorely miss. I got used to trading for a massage by doing the service provider a favor. Or getting my brows done for free because the esthetician had some free time and was bored. But a pedicure was something I rarely did. Namely, because it was one of the few services the spa offered that I could actually do myself with some proficiency.

But since it was evening, and I always use more coats than I probably need, I decided to go to a professional so that they would be dry by bedtime. Which I was hoping would be very early last night.

Now, I went to the place I used to get my nails done at when I used to do acrylics. It’s funny to think I used to be that person, but my mind is slowly moving back to that place. However, my nails are in better condition than they have ever been and I’d be a fool to mess with them at this point.

But the place had changed. It’s about half the size it used to be and very few of them spoke any English. And that was one of the reason that I used to go there – great conversations. Ah well. For a $20 pedi, I suppose I can’t complain too much. I mean, no one talked to me, there was no music or television to distract me from the fact that I could give no input into my pedicure, but it did look good when all was said and done. And the price was a far cry from what I was paying at the spa when I worked there.

I just need to remember to bring a friend next time to talk to. It was a very lonely 45 minutes, but my toes look damn good, if I do say so myself. A nice sparkly blue to go with my red flip flops that I plan on wearing to the Cardinals game next Wednesday.

And speaking of the great American pastime, have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. But please take a moment to remember the meaning of the day. All those men and women who died in combat so that we might have the freedoms that we do, deserve just a few moments of our time.
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Splitting Hairs...

I TOTALLY rock short hair!

Today I chopped my hair and I love it. I must admit that I was apprehensive about it when I was sitting in the chair for the first half of the cut, but as I was able to see how it was beginning to come together I began to get excited. I know some women get emotionally attached to their hair, but it’s never been that way with me. Hair grows. Hair changes. Hair evolves. But a vast difference is always a little scary.

And so mine has morphed into a very Kiera Knightley-esque cut a la the movie Domino.

I decided to cut my hair because my friend M had to buzz hers. I won’t get into the details behind the need because it’s not my tale to tell, but to say that her life is complicated is like saying that I’m busty… it’s such a vast understatement.

But M is going through her complexities with aplomb and humor. We were friends before this latest chapter of her life, good friends, but I really hope she knows that although I think what’s happening sucks worse than anything could suck, I am grateful that it brought us closer together. I just can’t wait ‘til it’s over and we can get back to having fun.

But until then, she completely owns the pixie look.

Because M had to cut her hair, I felt compelled to shed some of my length. It’s not as short as M’s, but it is way shorter than it was before. Her hair was freakishly long – okay, gross exaggeration… but not by much – and while she may not have been emotionally attached to it, having to cut your hair versus wanting to cut your hair can be very traumatic.

I had to cut my hair in November. Eight inches. I was pissed. But M’s situation is not because the people at her work – a spa – decided that growing hair out for Locks of Love was not a flattering look. Her reasons are much less shallow and much more about… battle.

So I chose to cut my hair to support her. Out of everything I could do for her, this is the most visual. And the easiest. And since it was my choice to support in this manner, I am thrilled to lop my locks. I kinda even thought it would be shorter, but the way it is now makes me so very happy.

Plus, I think it makes my cheekbones look amazing.

M is not overly fond of her shorn look, but I think it makes her look impish and makes her eyes sparkle. She’s tired a lot, so the twinkle is not constant. However, whenever there’s a gleam, now you can really see it. And while not continuous, they are frequent. Hence, the impishness…

Yes, M is a fierce warrior, if also a weary one. I am proud of her and love her very much. She knows that. But I hope she sees her new ‘do as empowerment. The hair will grow back. But until then, I hope she embraces how kick ass she looks… and kicks some ass.

I just hope she knows that there’s an army of friends behind her. I, for one, am glad to help her fight any fight she needs fought. I just somehow think that she’d do it all on her own if we weren’t behind her.

But at least we’ll be sportin’ some rockin’ ‘dos in the meantime.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Da-du-da-da, da-du-da...

So… the latest installment of Indiana Jones opens tomorrow. I don’t want to talk too much about it, especially since I – obviously – haven’t seen it yet, but I feel the need to acknowledge how something from my childhood is being resurrected. I know I will see it in the theaters, but I have mixed feelings about it. I mean, it’s been NINETEEN years since The Last Crusade and out of the three flicks, it’s by far my favorite. In fact, it would be in my Top 5 movies of all time.

I just loved Indy 3 for a few simple reasons… First, I saw it in the theater with my Dad. Now that Dad is gone, I feel that something will be lacking when I go to the theater. Second, the chemistry between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. Really, I know there’s only 9 years age difference between the two men, so the father-son possibility is impossible in real life, but the banter between the two of them was truly inspired. Finally, Marcus Brody saying, “Follow me, I know the way!” and then riding out of the canyon with the quip, “Didn’t he get lost in his own museum?” right on his heels before they all rode into the sunset... it just gave me the most satisfying end to the franchise.

I thought I had closed that book, not knowing that it was actually only the end of the chapter.

But… They did bring back Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood. Let me tell you, I have been watching the Indy marathons the past few weekends and while I like Temple of Doom much better than I did back in the day, I still am not the biggest fan of Kate Capshaw’s character, Willie. And while I like Last Crusade best, Elsa is more like background than anything else.

People have been whispering that there are rumors of a cameo by Sean Connery. I am not holding my breath. I mean, we haven’t seen him since League of Extraordinary Gentlemen came out, so I would think any filming of the esteemed Sir Sean would produce not just whisperings, but rumblings.

So, Karen Allen is back. Talk of Sean Connery being back. Can’t bring Denholm Elliott back as Marcus Brody, as he passed away in 1992. Discovering that made me very sad at first, but even though his character was amusing in Last Crusade, it was a vast deviation of how he was portrayed in Raiders.

I wanna know, will Sallah be in it?

But, deep down, I’m sorta, kinda, almost glad that they’re reviving the franchise. And I'm sorta, kinda, almost looking forward to going to see it. In fact, to quote the wise words of my dear friend Sallah, “Oh, my friends. I'm so pleased you're not dead.”

I might even have to get a massively large popcorn. I mean, Dad always did.
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Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Whole Enchilada... And Tacos... And Burritos...

I’ve been meaning to rave about my new favorite restaurant for quite some, but have only just now gotten around to it. I highly recommend that you head my recommendation and hurry over to Amigos Cantina in Kirkwood, Missouri. In case you haven't figured it out from the name, they serve as close to authentic Mexican cuisine as I've ever had. No Tex Mex food here...

Last night, I had dinner there with my friend, Tom. We got there around 6ish and had a 30 or so minute wait ahead of us. Hannah, the hostess, recognized me – even without Barry. I know I’m the biggest dork ever, but it is so awesome to have a little hole in the wall restaurant where people who work there know who you are. And while a wait that long means it’s no longer a hole in the wall, it is just fabulous walking into a place and feeling right at home.

Now the long wait was new, but I was thrilled for them. And while I knew it would be well worth the wait for me, but I only hoped that Tom would be satisfied with the food after having to wait so long. I was actually nervous because I had hyped it up so much.

While we were waiting, my friend Barb came over to give me a hug. Her husband, Robert, is the chef who came up with the delicious menu and is the brainchild for this awesome space. I used to work with Barb at a spa and miss her immensely. She truly is one of my favorite people. It was a fabulous surprise to see her, although it wasn’t completely unexpected.

While I was at the spa, I had heard all about the time, energy and money they were putting into the restaurant. I have to say that the inside looks amazing. All dark wood and glass windows with amazing authentic Mexican decorations... very intimate and welcoming, all at the same time.

Now, when the restaurant had an open house of sorts for friends and family, I brought a 'restaurant warming' gift. So if you see a handmade clay wreath about six inches in diameter, you can thank me. and let me know where it is. I haven't seen it hung up yet.

But meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Tom had always gotten an earful during my days at the spa, so he was able to keep up with most of the gossip that Barb and I exchanged. But Barb’s children were itching to move on so with a promise to call, she went on her merry way. Soon after, Robert wandered outside, where Tom and I were anxiously waiting to be retrieved, to say his hellos. He was absolutely BEAMING when I asked if the restaurant was meeting his expectations or exceeding them.

Out of my handful of visits to Amigos, I have tried something new each time. Puffed tacos. Chicken sandwich. Chicken burrito. Nothing has disappointed. But since I like what I’ve tried, I want it again. Yet I force myself to keep trying new dishes so I can tell people how good they are.

Oh, and the margaritas are to die for. If you like margaritas, you will LOVE theirs.

I opted to try the Tilapia fish tacos and while they did not disappoint, I agree with Tom… fish doesn’t really belong in a taco. Live and learn – and definitely try it. It was divine, but I think I’ll keep trying new dishes.

And yes, Tom liked it. He’s already planning on trying the nachos the next time we go.

After we finished eating dinner, we cut across a parking lot and ended up at The Custard Station. In all the years we’ve been eating dinner in my neck of the woods, we have never once stopped at the cute little frozen custard stand.

That will now change.

I must say, the Peanut Butter Cup ‘cement’ that I tried was the tastiest frozen dessert that I have had in a long time, if not ever. It was whipped and light and just wonderful. But after the filling meal at Amigos, I think I’ll get the mini size next time. I’m not really a believer that too much of a good thing is bad, but being too full from really good food makes it a little less appreciated.

We sat in a little park behind the frozen custard stand by the train tracks and just talked and watched the world go by. In a time when there doesn’t always seem to be enough hours in the day, it was a pleasure to just kick back and ‘be.’ We were also amazed at how many people flocked to the little building. I mean, it was like a festival of frozen custard with all the people sitting around and watching children run and dance and watch the trains roll past. People had dogs with them. People rode their bikes over. It was so cool – pun intended – to see how the neighborhood just descended on the place.

But then the bugs drove us back to the car and we ended our lazy Saturday night roaming the stacks at the Borders in Sunset Hills. I picked up the latest of Laurell K Hamilton’s in paperback, The Harlequin.

I swear, I am addicted to her books. I resisted reading them for so long, but on a whim one day, I picked up the first in her Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series… and was instantly hooked. Dammit! I read, like, 13 of her books in a row, I was so smitten. The books are a quick read and filled with beautiful characters who live here in St. Louis, who just happen to be undead. Good times.

Tom bought a book in the same vein (please excuse the pun). I can’t remember the name of it, but it was about zombies. Vampires and zombies. Awesome way to close a Saturday night.

Actually, reading the latest Hamilton and eating some of that custard would have been even better. I was just too full to even contemplate it at the time. But maybe tonight...
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Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Write Stuff...

I started writing this blog as an exercise in developing my story-writing skills. In retrospect, I see that I write as I talk. With little continuity, but with much passion. Which doesn’t always make for a bad story. Just not a very thorough one. I also think it means that I’m turning into my father, who always had a story to tell. Generally it was the same story he told the last time, but for people new to the tale, it was usually pretty entertaining but usually pretty shallow.

But I think my lack of depth in this writing has to do with the fact that I see this as unstructured writing. I tend to write my entries as more off the cuff rather than concentrated efforts. I come home and write, then immediately post. There’s little self-editing and even less time in trying to decide on a topic.

But I shall keep writing and, hopefully, keep honing my skills.

However, this is not my first foray into writing. In fact, I have been writing for years. I started writing the ‘Great American Novel’ when I was high school and plugged away at it through my college years. Then I set it aside, realizing that I was burnt out from it. And besides, art was my creative calling.

Or so I thought.

I love words. It sounds weird to say that, but it’s true. Why limit the way you express yourself to a few standard adjectives? So I began to read authors that felt the same way I do. And when I read books, stories, articles where I thought the author could have turned the phrase differently, I began to think that I could write better than them.

And rather than just bitch, I decided to put my money where my mouth is.

So I started writing again. But not my book. Not yet anyways.

I write fanfiction.

There. I put it out there and so I cannot take it back. I mean, didn’t someone once say that if something is on the Internet, it’s on there forever?

I’m actually quite embarrassed about the fact that I write stories based on other people’s ideas.

Which is not to say that I am not a good writer. On the contrary. Yes, I am tooting my own horn, but I happen to think what I have written so far has been quite entertaining. And based on the amount of reviews I have gotten, other people agree.

But it’s not something I tell too many people about because, well, as I said, I’m embarrassed about it. People who have read what I have written have invariably asked me why I feel that way and the truth of the matter is that I wish I was more original. I mean, I’m taking other people’s ideas and developing them. I have the easy job. Developing characters that are well-rounded and believable is the hard part. Plus, I already have a built-in audience – people who like the same characters I do.

Bu let me explain how I started down this path…

It all started with the movie ‘Hellboy.’ I love that movie, don’t get me wrong, but there were some parts of the film that I felt needed to be addressed and corrected. Like the fact that he has way too many cats. That all seem to interbreed. There are laws restricting the number of animals one can own before you must get a kennel license. It varies from state to state, but I know that a government run agency would not condone such actions, no matter how super-secret their top agent is.

So, no massive amounts of animals in my version. And no Hellboy/Liz Sherman romance either. Of course, then the story is going back to the Mike Mignola version, isn’t it?

But the truth of the matter is, as I sat in that darkened movie theater, I developed a massive crush on Hellboy.

See, this entry is all about embarrassing.

But I loved the fact that he was all about self-effacing, self-depreciating, and plain ol’ sarcastic. Plus, those washboard abs and leather pants. I wanted to give him a world where he still might be different, but where he was appreciated.

So I wrote a story. And then set it aside and went on my merry way. But then another one began to formulate in my head and I wrote the tale. This time, however, I began to look for other stories in the same vein. I could not be the only one doing this.

And I found that I was not. By a long shot. is filled with tons upon tons of people who write about their favorite movies, television shows, comics, books… It’s almost crazy that people get so impassioned about what entertains them.

But still, I didn’t post.

Then, came ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.’ I remember walking out of the theater, being totally blow away by the movie. I had always thought of Johnny Depp as a good actor, but he was… breathtaking with dreadlocks and kohl eyeliner and swishy hands.
And soon an army of teenaged girls felt the same.


I then watched the second movie. I loved the first so much that I was eagerly anticipating this latest installment. And it didn’t disappoint. In fact, I like it better than the first. Namely because it introduced a truly despicable character named Cutler Beckett who is truly just the rottenest man you can imagine and it gave me scruffy and dirty and sexy James Norrington.

Oh, I liked him in the first movie, but only because he was the only truly decent person in the whole flick. And despite the white wig, there is nothing like a man in uniform.


…I like the bad boy version ever so much better.

That voice. Those eyes. Yum. What a tall, cool drink of water.

I had heard rumors of his demise in the third film and quickly went to work to correct that possible scenario. I wrote. And rewrote. And edited some more. And after all that work, I decided that someone – anyone – needed to see what I wrote. So I created an account and published the first chapter. As the hits started to accumulate and the reviews started to fill my inbox, I felt giddy. So I kept going with my experiment.

Then, the third movie came out. And the rumors were indeed true. And I was pissed. Oh, I’m not going to bemoan the fact that they killed off my favorite character. But I am going to bemoan the fact that they killed him off in the manner that they did. James Norrington deserved better.

So I wrote a new story. Which got me more positive response than the previous ‘book.’ Which blew my mind because the previous tale I had labored over in the writing and rewriting for a good part of a year or so before I had the nerve to post it. This time around, I was posting as I went, having no idea where the tale would take the characters.

So then I posted the second ‘Hellboy’ story I wrote. Smaller audience, but not less enthusiastic.

Then I started a third ‘Pirates’ tale, this time focusing on Cutler Beckett. Still working on it. And have no idea where it will end up.

I still have not posted the original story that started it all. Maybe someday.

My Fanfiction webpage
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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Guilty Pleasures

A friend of mine asked a while ago if I had any musical guilty pleasures, but the only thing that came to mind was my favorite songs. But that didn’t count because there was no ‘embarrassment’ factor to them. But as time has gone on, a handful have come to mind…

‘Everlasting Love,’ ‘Build Me Up, Buttercup,’ ‘Forever in Blue Jeans,’ ‘Bad Medicine,’ Broadway show tunes, the entire Grease motion picture soundtrack…

These songs I rock out to in the safety of my car whenever they happen to fall on the dial I happen to be listening to at the moment. Rarely do I seek them out, but I turn up the volume whenever I hear them. Day brighteners they are, but if I happen to have company in the vehicle, I generally keep my excitement levels down to a dull roar.

Now, guilty pleasures are a fact of my life. Yes, there’s the usual foodstuff that is bad for me, but tastes of so good. Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs are a prime example. I know I should savor them since they are only available around Easter, but two weeks later… I’m cryin’ over their rapid departure. Can you freeze them? That might help.

But there are also foods that I only delve into every few years. Gooey Butter Cake is a prime example.

For those of you not in the know, Gooey Butter Cake is a St. Louis staple, same as Toasted Ravioli and provolone cheese thin crust pizza, otherwise known as St. Louis-style pizza. The cake consists of two layers – the bottom being yellow cake and the top layer consisting of either egg and cream cheese, or butter and sugar. Powdered or confectioner’s sugar is then dusted across the top.

And how did this delicious confection come about? According to Wikipedia, “The cake was supposedly first made by accident in the 1930s by a St. Louis-area German American baker who was trying to make regular cake batter but reversed the proportions of sugar and flour.” God bless that man.

My Mom always ate is as coffee cake for breakfast, so I have no idea if other people eat it as dessert. Frankly, I think any time of day is a good time for Gooey Butter Cake.

Also, ironically enough, Laurell K Hamilton has become a guilty pleasure. I say ironically because the first book of her Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series is titled ‘Guilty Pleasures.’ Now, they are fun… and sexy… and mindless. They also because formulaic and predicable. But while it can be a detraction for some, I find it nice to have the consistency.

The characters are all physically beautiful and, for the most part, internally flawed in some regard. But not on the outside. Save one. Her character Asher, a vampire, has been marred by holy water that was dripped on him a la Chinese water torture. And because he is imperfect, I find him much more interesting than any of the other characters. Like, I skip over paragraphs to get to the parts in the book where he is.

Of course, it’s my Phantom of the Opera complex. Or the Beauty and the Beast complex. Or… Yeah, ran out of steam with that one. But I do like characters in books who are physically unattractive, but who have beautiful personalities. It makes me hope that I would be so open in real life.
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A Crosshatch On The Wall

I meant to post Friday night and sometime yesterday, but time got away from me. Just means a double post today – or so I hope.

Friday was the completion of my first week and as the CEO said, the first week in the many years of service to come.

As part of my training, I had to attend a class outside of work dealing with child sexual abuse. I work in a faith-based organization and anybody who knows me finds that just as amusing as I do. Not to say that I don’t believe in God and all that, but I’ve been moving farther and farther away from organized religion. I feel enough guilt over every single action in my life that I don’t need other people to add to it. And that’s my viewpoint on religion – other people make me feel bad over my actions, not God. If I’m sorry for something I’ve done, God forgives me. Enough said.

But this class was two and a half hours long and on my own time. I gladly went – and found it quite insightful – but I never want to sit through it again. Kinda like ‘Saving Private Ryan’ and ‘Schindler’s List.’ I feel that I’m a better person for having seen them. I’m just trying to figure out how child abuse factors into my job. But I probably don’t want to.

To celebrate one week down, Barry and I went and saw ‘Iron Man’ Friday night. Was kind of spur of the moment. And rather than regale you with superlatives of the movie that everyone else has already spewed, I will tell you that I’m now crushing on Robert Downey Jr. Big time.

Sadly, this made me realize that I’m not all that discriminate in my crushes. Not that he isn’t a beautiful man, but I watch a movie or television show and I’m pretty much easily smitten. Although I do tend to be loyal.

Right now, here’s my Top Ten List, in no particular order:

1) Christopher Meloni
2) Benecio del Toro
3) Joaquin Phoenix
4) Gerard Butler
5) Jeffery Dean Morgan
6) David Tennent
7) Jack Davenport
8) Kevin Smith
9) Hugh Laurie
10) Robert Downey Jr.

Okay, maybe I'm not so loyal because half of the list has been added in the past five or so years. And these are only actors. Don't get me going about other types of crushes. Like rock stars and the like.

But it was a nice way to kick off the movie summer season.

All of my friends are cinemaphiles, but there aren’t too many movies that I’m waiting with baited breath to see. Hellboy is at the top. LOVE that movie. Don’t know why. The plot was a little weak, but the dialogue was fast and witty and sarcastic. Love it when sarcasm is done well. And it rocks in Hellboy. Plus, those washboard abs? Is it possible to crush on a non-human comic book character?

And, of course, Indiana Jones. I have mixed feelings about the movie. ‘The Last Crusade’ is one of my most favoritest movies ever. I just don’t know if revisiting after all this time is a good idea. But you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll see it in the theater. Probably several times.

As it is, right now I’m watching ‘The Last Crusade’ – in all its editing glory – on TV. I just can’t get enough of it. But watching the movie, and writing this post, ain’t getting the chores done. And since I’m still getting used to the work week schedule, they won’t get done during the week.

Here’s hoping your week is excellent. Here’s hoping mine is, too.
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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Child's Play and Working the Bugs Out

So yesterday was the first day of the rest of my life.

Well, that might be overstating things a bit, but my first day on the job left me completely fulfilled… and completely overwhelmed.

The job makes me nervous. There’s a high level of responsibility and a high level of confidentiality. While I know I can do the job, the level of detail involved makes me a little worried. I drop the ball on something, there’s consequences. Big consequences.

In the past, I was a spa coordinator at a local high-end spa which meant a large amount of booking appointments via the telephone, of which I generally I felt tethered to the d*mn thing. Going to the bathroom when I was on phone duty was an exercise in futility most times. Had to ask permission from the front desk, as I was in a windowless room in the back of the building… because being as far away from the front desk as possible made sense. But there were times when the front desk was too busy to answer the phones, so I couldn’t go.

A thirty-something woman should not have to ask permission to go potty.

And yes, that is one of the things that makes me happy at this new job. Wandering away from my desk at will.

But so does the fact that I’ll be able to utilize my skills for the first time in a very, very long time. I was completely underutilized at the spa.

Considering the amount of stress I’ve been under in trying to acclimate to my new surroundings, the past few days have gotten progressively better for me…

Saturday kinda sucked. I had turned down an offer to go a Derby party because I had already made plans. I’m not the biggest fan of horse racing any more. As a child, I loved horses, so wanting to be a jockey was a natural desire when I was ten. Then puberty hit and I grew up… and out. There was no way I was going to make weight and have the short stature to give the horse an edge.

That morning, I was also offered a ticket the baseball game, which I also turned down. Good thing I did, too. The Cubs spanked my Cards. Although, if I had been there I might have been able to save them by my sheer presence. Mind over matter to get those pitches to go where they should. Isn’t that how it works?

But my plans fell through. And yes, I was pretty torqued. My friend had double booked and didn’t let me know until early-afternoon on Saturday. Too late for me to get in on the other offers. So my Saturday night consisted of me refabricking two bar stools and eating an ice cream drumstick. All in all, I’ve had worse nights, but it was so not what I had planned.

But Sunday was much better. I got to hang out with Jason and his two children in a local park by their house. It was a blast, but reminded me that I need to get into better shape if I want to keep up with kids. But getting to be “Aunt” Jeanne and “Uncle” Barry was totally fabulous. Getting the unconditional (or maybe it’s conditional, since we give them great gifts) love from a four-year-old and two-year-old is the most amazing feeling when they hug and kiss you. And call your name to come over and play.

Now, as great as the park was, afterwards came the coup de resistance… Wendy’s!

Love me my Wendy’s. And since the closest restaurants are at least 30 minutes away, Barry and I made the most out of its proximity to Jason’s house. I almost wanted to stockpile a few days worth of burgers, but I was afraid that some of the flavor would get lost in the reheating…

Maybe everything on Saturday happened for a reason. I certainly have appreciated how yesterday and today have turned out. I might not be as appreciative if my weekend was completely awesome. I seem to be on a wave of momentum of bigger and better things. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.
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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Another Brick in the Wall

Today we’re going to be schlepping the multitudes of retaining wall bricks that are sitting in the garage over to our friend Jason’s home. He wants ‘em, we don’t, so it’s a beautiful thing. The bricks are left over from a patio build and I guess we way over-estimated. I hope the delivery is a smooth one because getting these to our house was anything but fun.

We had bought a pallet of the bricks from Lowe’s and had them delivered. The original delivery date came and went, which was Mother’s Day, without any sign of the truck. I had taken Barry’s mother out for a massage, then to eat, with the intention of Barry meeting up with us. We ended up going back to the house so Barry could see his mother. Later in the afternoon, several phone calls resulted in finding out that the delivery date had been keyed in for the next Sunday, but that the delivery could be bumped up to Thursday. Sunday wasn’t going to do us any good because we had a crew coming over on Saturday to help. We should have just rescheduled our friends.

The pallet was loaded into the wrong kind of truck. It had a small hydraulic lift that was narrower than the width of the pallet, which meant hand unloading the truck. Except that they didn’t. They put the pallet on a pallet jack, rolled it to the mouth of the truck, then tried to roll it onto the lift. But the small lip where the lift met the truck kept the jack from rolling smoothly, but a nice shove got it right over. And into the street.

Needless to say, there were casualties. And while Lowe’s did replace them, we didn’t get an apology. They did, however, send people to help clean up the mess. But without cleaning tools. So Barry and I provided brooms, dustbins and bags to clean the mess up with. Nice.

So out they go. Or most of them. Will probably keep a large handful in case any of ours need to be replaced. But it looks to be a beautiful day, we’re clearing space in the garage and I get to get out of the house for a good while before I start my new job tomorrow.

And we’re also going to check in on Jason since his wife is out of town.
It’s not like that. Not worried about him partying hard or the like. I just want to make sure his two kids haven’t tied him up and are high on candy. I’m kidding. Sort of.

Actually, their children are the most well behaved kids I know. I keep telling Jennifer and Jason that it blows my mind how great their kids are because it’s so much easier to not be a good parent. But Jason and Jennifer are two of the coolest cats I know. In fact, Jason and his wife Jennifer set Barry and I up. For the longest time, I resisted meeting Barry. I had recently gotten back into the dating waters – and immediately wanted back out. I had gone on a year-long dating sabbatical, for all intents and purposes, and found that I preferred being single. The thought scared me, so I accepted offers and perused dating websites, all of which left me very disillusioned. I felt that I shouldn’t ignore my guy instinct and stay single.

And yet Jennifer and Jason wouldn’t shut up about Barry.

Fine, fine, I told them, anything to get you guys to shut up. I’m guessing Barry told them something similar.

Five and a half years later, with a one year wedding anniversary coming up, I blame them. So does Barry.

I worked with Jennifer for about a year before I quit and Jason was the younger brother of Barry’s best friend from high school. However, proof positive that St. Louis is the biggest small town, I actually knew Jason long before I ever met him. Turns out, he used to run in the same crowd as my best friend in early high school. So I heard stories about Jason, namely that he talked to trees. And when Jason and I had the moment where we realized that we knew the same people, I said, “You’re Jason who talks to trees!” Without batting an eye, he agreed.

Now, the story is that Jason was in the passenger seat while several friends were being driven home. Jason lived near Tower Grove Park and when he was nearly home, rolled down the window, stuck his torso out and started to tell the trees how much he liked them.

Jason Who Talks To Trees is a much funnier name than it is a story.

I just hope that today none of us end up with no one getting new names. I’m almost convinced these bricks are cursed.
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Saturday, May 3, 2008

On the Threshold

I’m addicted to home improvement shows. I think it’s because I like to live vicariously through people who have actually taken the step of either demolition of their living space or at least have taken steps to make their homes more livable. Call me a weenie, but I think I would rather rearrange my living space than to make the final leap into altering my physical surroundings. Gads, but I love to rearrange furniture.

However, I see-saw back and forth on being gung ho about doing home improvement or wanting to bury my head in the sand about things that need to get done. Namely, I hate doing projects on my own – except when I don’t. When I had first met my now husband, I was in the process of ripping up the hideous green carpet in the front room. He came by one night after work – he was working until midnight in those days – and we talked for what seemed hours while I slowly peeled back nasty carpet and padding thicker than some mattresses on the market these days. Thank God the hardwood floor beneath was absolutely pristine. My grandmother must have put it down the day she and my father moved in.

Let me clarify…

I inherited the home I grew up in. Yep, the same room that I sit in now, typing away, is the same room where I learned to walk. And where I used to do indoor Easter Egg hunts when it was raining. And where I studied at the dining room table, despite it not really being a dining room. And so many, many more memories that I won’t ramble on about.

And it’s f-ing hard some days. But other days, there’s nothing more awesome than thinking about raising kids in the same house I was raised in. Plus, it’s paid for. I suppose I am very lucky in that regard. In today’s housing market, I don’t have to worry about a house note. And the house is pretty nice, although five animals and two reluctant homeowners make for a less than showcase presentation.

But it’s a three-bedroom ranch-style home that butts up to a creek on the back side of the property. Meaning, no neighbors behind us. Which ROCKS! Not to brag, but I don’t think I could have done much better if I had made the attempt myself. My father bought the house in the late 60’s. I think I recall him telling me that the realtor showed him three houses and he picked the cheapest. Regardless, I’m near major shopping, Intersecting interstate highways, and while I didn’t enjoy my tenure in the school district, it nonetheless is highly ranked. Someday the housing market will improve and I think I’ll do well if we ever decide to sell.

But only if we update the bathrooms and the kitchen. I have gold-flecked white Formica countertops and faux wood grain Formica cabinets in all three rooms. Be not jealous.

Tonight, I recovered the seats of the two bar stools that go with my kitchen table. I suppose it’s really the cats’ table, as their food sits high above the dogs reach. But the fabric that covered the seats was extremely light in color. And solid to boot. So any stains were very visible.

Not any more.

And while it’s certainly not going to increase the value of the home, it is but one step in the right direction of making this place Barry and my own. Someday, we’ll truly – and literally – carve out our own niche here. Until then, lots of little changes can, over time, add up to something big.

Or so I keep telling myself.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Work While You Work, Play While You Play

So I finally found gainful employment. A position I had applied for, seemingly months ago, finally came through. The position had been offered to me, but the money had yet to be mentioned pending reference checks. The call came earlier this week with the salary offer. Which was right where I was hoping it would be, so I enthusiastically accepted. I start Monday.

To say that I’m nervous is an understatement. I really wanted this job when I applied for it. I really wanted this job even more after I interviewed for the position. I was practically salivating over the job when I was brought in to go over a detailed, multi-page job description. I was almost climbing the walls when days turned into a week, then two, without a salary offer.

And then it came and all was right with the world.

But the case of nerves? For a job that I wanted so badly, why am I nervous? Well, it’s partly because I wanted the job so badly that I’m concerned that I’ll be let down by all the build-up, but there’s also the fact that for a few years I bemoaned the fact that I was working in a job that didn’t require my college degree. And now that I’m back on track in a PROFESSIONAL career, it’s overwhelming.

I have always wanted to work in the field of non-profit fundraising. I like the idea of grassroots much better than corporate. I love the idea of making a difference in this crazy world of ours. I really think that this job will let me get back into doing what I do best... working with people and making them feel good about the financial decisions they made in donating to a good cause and generating creative ideas on generating new money-making events.

But it’s been several years since I worked at a non-profit and while I hope it’s like riding a bike and will soon become quite comfortable, the nature of the business has to have changed in these tough economic times. While I’m good at the whole baptism under fire – learning under pressure is the only way to go – I just hope that this old dog doesn’t need to learn all new tricks.

So in light of the new job, I have gone shopping. Target’s sales racks are dangerous and addictive. In two days, I have hit four stores with mixed results. When I wasn’t looking for anything but ‘work clothes,’ I did great. But when I started to look for items that I had already bought in different colors, I learned that clearance is a whole lot of things that don’t sell well and a little bit of single items getting marked down to make room.

But in my excursion yesterday, I headed south. And south took me farther than the South County Target. I cruised down 270 to 255 and exited at Koch Road. Yes, I drove Robert Koch Hospital Road, looking longingly to my left, as I lead a parade of trucks and cars who thwarted my hopes of driving slowly along the former hospital grounds in an attempt to see if there was an easy way to slip onto the property. Curses, foiled again.

So today, my official last day of unemployment – because the weekend doesn’t count – will be spent shopping some more. I plan on returning a few things to Target that were bought in the heat of the moment, and then off to scoop up my mother-in-law and whisk her off to the happiest of happy places for book lovers around the region… the St. Louis Book Fair out at West County Mall.

For those of you not in the know, it’s my idea of Heaven… and Hell. Books! Cheap Books! For as far as the eye can see! All waiting for a good home to go to…
And that’s my problem. I want to rescue them all.

But I plan on focusing my search this year. Books that are no older than five years old pertaining to non-profits and ways to fundraise and, drum roll please, historical romance novels that aren’t overly formulaic. Yes, they are a guilty pleasure of mine, but someday – and sooner rather than later – I want to publish. I have a story I’m editing that others have enjoyed so I figure that I can chock up this kind of reading as ‘research.’

What a double life that would be… Making the world a better place by day and bodice-ripping authoress by night. Hey, maybe that can be an incentive for people to buy my book! With each purchase, I’d donate a percentage of the profit to a charitable organization. I might have to explore that idea…
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