Friday, September 29, 2006

Perhaps We've Met.

As a senior in high school I was a big fan The AOL, as my mother calls it. We’d had a computer in the house since 1990, back when The Oregon Trail was just a bunch of green dots on the screen and god save your soul if you didn’t have an extra spoke to fix your wheel after inevitably rolling over a green rock in the road. But dial-up did not become a factor in my life until the early part of 1996, The Year of the Move. (And I totally think they should reinvent The Oregon Trail for today’s generation, making it more Gen-X-er-y or Gen-Apathy or whatever the generation is that plays lots of video games.)

Just realizing that’s actually MY generation and feeling momentarily out of the loop. Also realizing that perhaps not everyone rolled their eyes upon seeing the lead story on MSN this morning, the one about some new Nintendo game thing that’s called Wii. I mean, come on. How the hell am I supposed to pronounce that anyway? Because where I come from, that sounds a lot like a slightly intoxicated honky-tonker wailing “But whiiiii?" after her boyfriend as he walks away from her and their volatile relationship, flipping her the finger as he tosses his lustrous mullet over his right shoulder, coveting the sweet ass on Bobby Sue and the new muzzle loader he’s going to purchase at Wal-Mart later on.

Back to The Oregon Trail thing, I think it should obviously get a little color update. And instead of trading oxen for a new wheel spoke, you should have the option to trade ugly family members or just ones that don’t pull their weight or get sick when you’re crossing Nebraska . And I think you should be able to artificially inseminate the oxen because a) I don’t really want to watch oxen do it and b) don’t you think it’s odd that none of the oxen ever got preggers while on a months-long trip to Oregon ?

**Have just been told that this is very similar to something called Sims? What has happened to the two-dimensional games of my youth?! Pong! Frogger! And then Nintendo came out with Mario Bros and all the world stood still and took a collective breath because THE GENIUS of that game, seriously. Are these languishing in some never-never land of cast aside games? My god people, my heart is breaking.

Have gotten a bit off track here, there was a point to this story and it totally didn’t involve The Oregon Trail or the death of the two-dimensional game force. It involved around AOL and the advent of instant messaging. Though I now consider “chatting” via IM as annoying as listening to someone clip their toenails within hearing distance of my office (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE), back in the day the novelty of being able to think about my responses before hitting the Send button was damn near more exciting than waiting for Ross-n-Rachel to get back together already. Instead of tying up the phone line for one phone call to one measly friend, you tied up the phone line for one internet session and 15-20 instant message boxes.

My senior year in high school I was friends with this girl named Arwen, whose parents were obviously quite enthralled with books written by Tolkein. She had flaming red hair and a twin brother named Owen, whom I rarely saw because he was all wicked smart and shit and he’d been shipped off to a super smart math genius school in Dallas. Though I did spend one rainy day with him in New York when he took the train in from Yale or Harvard or wherever he was getting his doctorate in Super Smart Mathematical Theories and for some reason I wore my pretty knee high boots with four inch heels to walk around the city and I can distinctly remember purchasing some cheap (and flat) black shoes half-way through our excursion because my feet, they were threatening to amputate themselves with a dull wooden spoon.

One Saturday afternoon Arwen and I were chatting, discussing the vagaries of high school and the girls who most certainly DID NOT have the face for a Rachel-esque hair cut. She sent a ‘brb’ and a few minutes later came back on with very exciting news- Chicago was coming to town and did I want to go?

ARE YOU SERIOUS? CHICAGO IS COMING TO TOWN? AND DO I WANT TO GO? I’ve been searching for so long? Till the end of time? HELL YES!
So I gave her my money and she purchased my tickets and can I tell you how much we talked about the upcoming Chicago-ness? Like, every day. HELLO. It’s CHICAGO.

A week before the scheduled festivities we were in the midst of an in-depth discussion of our chosen attire when I became a little concerned with her choice of a nice black skirt and her mother's pearl earrings, thinking that maybe she did not understand the origins of Chicago but she was my friend and I would not judge her. I mean, just because she wasn't going to sport some ripped up jeans didn't mean we wouldn't have a good time. Besides, Arwen was way preppy and I struggled daily with just making my shoes match. This was a few years before I came to realize that shoes NEVER have to match on a woman and if I feel like wearing turqouise kitten heels with a grey sweater then by damned, I can wear them.

A few days later our excitement had reached peak teenage levels. After dance class that night Arwen asked me if I knew who would be playing Roxie Hart, and for the life of me I had no idea what she was talking about. Roxie Hart wasn't the name of a song I'd ever heard Chicago sing and if we were going to a Chicago concert, wouldn't Chicago be playing Roxie Hart?

And then Arwen scrunched her brow in confusion and said "No, I mean do you know who's playing Roxie Hart, you know, like, the character."

It was at that moment I realized I'd comitted myself to go see Chicago, the musical. Not Chicago, THE BAND.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Mae West by Northwest

This evening I’m heading out to Shotgun Dan’s for some pizza and beer, emphasis on the beer. I’ll be honest and say that I am normally a Liquor Girl, which is easily and quite frequently confused with Fruity Drink Girl. Fruity Drink Girls are normally just past the legal drinking age and are usually heavily involved in sororities. They are mesmerized by the possibility of being given a White Rose at a super secret fraternity ceremony and giving it up to the Frat Boy President because he’s totally going to call tomorrow. Fruity Drink Girls can also be above the age of sixty-five because, hello, have you ever been to Atlantic City?

Liquor Girls, quite obviously, drink liquor. And even though this liquor may occasionally be spiced up with some cranberry juice or a twist of lime, given the choice of on the rocks or frozen, we will choose on the rocks. I prefer things like cosmos and dirty martinis and the ever-popular Long Island iced tea. Frozen choices are reserved for times when a dessert is warranted but a creamy concoction of tiramisu just doesn’t cut it.

Definitions now aside, I can’t say as I have anything more to add about this evening’s coming festivities. Only that I’m ready for an evening with a very frosty mug full of very frosty beer.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

This Hotel Lets Birds Fly In Their Lobby. Did I Mention HOW MUCH I HATE BIRDS?

Amanda and I went to the hotel pool last night, the indoor one that's surrounded by trees that are probably fake. All in an attempt to make you feel like you're outside, only without the SEARING HEAT and TOTAL LACK OF BREEZE.

It was deserted at 9:30 so we headed downstairs for a little splishy splashy. Inside the enclosed arena we threw our key cards and coverups on the benches and Amanda was quick like bunny and made her way to the edge of the pool, quickly stepping into the water and just as quickly stepping herself right out.

She claimed it was cold but I figured she was crazy, I mean, HELLO, it's an indoor pool. What kind of indoor pool isn't heated?

Apparently that one.

But I was brave and waded in to my waist, at which point I decided that was as far as I was going. About that time I noticed a strange noise coming from the end of the pool, sort of a grating humming noise. The longer I stayed in, the louder it got. I had mental images of being sucked into the pool filter and being spit back out as a tangled cheese grater like mess.

But the noise got louder and I just couldn't stand it so I told Amanda that the Langoliers were coming and it was time to roll up on out.

This isn't at all funny but it's a reasonable segue into the fact that our hotel has a total lack of free internet (stingy bastards) and this irregular scheduled programming will return, um, like Friday? Or Saturday? Whatever. I'm totally going to go sleep now.

Almost forgot: our hotel has an 'Adult Menu' on the television and Amanda called me up on Sunday night to laughingly tell me that our porn choices for the evening were "Titty Titty Bang Bang," "MILF and Cookies," or "Double Slut Sandwich."

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Hold Tight, Wear Something White

Thursday night I showed up at the Doctors Building (the actual name of the building, I know, how original) around 8:45 for my sleep study, something I wasn't really looking forward to, knowing as I did that some strange person was going to be gluing electrode discs to my person.

I grabbed the overnight bag out of the back of my car and ambled up to the front doors and for a whole two seconds, waited patiently for those normally automatic doors to whoosh open. But they didn't. So I walked around to the side of the building, smiling and nodding politely at the homeless man with patchy fuzzy hair, only to find not one single door that had a handle on the outside, only anonymous looking key holes and dim flickering lights over the double metal doors placed at intervals down the building.

So I discarded my casual ambling and stalked back up to the front, muttering to myself about what total bullshit it is to have people show up here for a sleep study with no clear indication of how to get in. Back at the front doors I pushed and pulled a little, knowing they wouldn't move but still feeling it was necessary to try. I decided it was Fate, I was meant to go home and sleep in the privacy of my own home, and I whipped open my cell phone and called the main number. I forced myself to sound Southern and Girly and Bemused but by the end of the message, I was just flat-out annoyed and I may or may not have ended the call with "Oh, fuckit, I'm going home."

Just as I was backing out of my parking space, however, I saw a heavyset woman with dyed dark hair wearing a set of those really ugly printed scrubs, the kind with strange geometric shapes and swirlies and lighting bolts of pure unadulterated color. She was coming out of a small glass door that had previously gone unseen on the right corner of the building. I continued backing out and pulled up next to the sidewalk as she was walking towards her car and asked her if she knew how one would go about getting in the building for the sleep study clinic.

Why yes, she told me, just hit that little button in the brick beside the front door and someone will buzz you in.

I parked my car again, grabbed my bag and walked back to the front door, this time noticing the small (and matte black) button placed inconspicuously about three quarters down the brick wall. How I was to EVER know that button was there, much less push it for entrance, I have no idea. But immediately after pressing the button a voice came through a speaker, telling me that I was to come to suite 506.

all right, whatever.

Inside I was greeted by a very energetic black man with arms and legs long enough to make me think he probably got teased for being a Gumby back in high school. After talking to him for a few minutes I realized his accent was familiar and I asked him where he was from.

"Hattiesburg, Mississippi, sugar! Where you from?"

I KNEW I'd recognized that speech! It's the same accent I used to have, before I had some wild idea about being a television anchor and made myself try and emulate the indistinguishable accents of CNN reporters. He'd said something about going down to Louisiana for a family reunion and he'd pronounced the name right- Loo-ze-hannah, not Lew-ees-ee-ana. And then he'd made a comment about the "yellah" scrubs he'd picked up the day before and I knew he was born and bred bayou rat.

We continued to chit chat for the hour it took to glue on all the little discs, inside my hair, on my temple, beside my eyes, on my chin, my neck, my chest and back, then finally down my legs. When he was done I laid down on the mattress and sighed a sigh of great relief. I'd been exhausted when I got there at nine and it hadn't been my turn for gluing until after ten, so by the time he flicked off the lights it was 11:30 and even with the mounds of wires and glue and strange surroundings, I fell right to sleep.

To be exact, I fell asleep in forty-five seconds.

And there was nothing I could do to stop it. I'd felt it on the way over, that this was a good sleep night. If I'd closed my eyes on the drive over I'm positive I could have fallen right to sleep. And it didn't matter that this was the one night I needed to behave like normal, I needed to lay in bed awake for hours, I needed to show up on those little graphs and charts as being the insomniac I most surely am. But Fate thwarted me and sent me right to La La land, just like I'd asked every single night for the past few years, finally answering my plea on the ONE NIGHT I didn't want it.

But that mattress was so comfortable and the room was so dark and the nice man who'd glued on my discs, well, he doesn't play for my team, eliminating any residual fear I might have had regarding late-night visits from unknown men. And I was just so tired I could have cried and I laid my head down on that pillow and was out before my Gumby friend had time to get himself a cup of coffee.

In the morning I sat in the small office of the sleep doctor while he told me he didn't think I had a problem with falling asleep, seeing as how I'd crashed mere seconds after the lights had gone out. I don't think he much believed me when I told him this was fluke, I could count on my hand the number of time in the past six years I'd been able to close my eyes and head to La La land. He smiled and said maybe that was so, but I still had other problems to deal with.

He pulled out a stack of graphs taken from the night before, each page showing a five minute section of time with varying lines for my heart level, my breathing patterns, leg movement and brain activity. He pointed to the sheet in front of him and told me that in that particular five minute span, I'd woken up six times. He pulled another graph out, another five minute log of time, and said I'd woken up four times. Another sheet, showing I'd come out of stage 2 sleep a total of six times. Then five. Then four again.

I'd only gotten about 30 minutes of stage four sleep, the kind I was supposed to have, and the rest of the time, he said, I'd spent an average of fifteen seconds for every minute completely awake.

At the end of the visit, after we'd discussed things we could do and surgeries I could have (I'm one of the lucky few who can't be helped by pretty little pills, dammit) I walked out of his office feeling totally validated. I wasn't crazy, I wasn't suicidal, I REALLY WAS JUST FUCKING TIRED.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Random bittids (which is tidbits, only cut in half and reversed):

Sunday night I was working in the nursery with an exceedingly small group of kids. Normally I have thirteen Not Close To Walking-, Almost Walking-, Walking But Unstable- and Able To Walk And Therefore Also Think Can Climb Walls- children that take up every available brain space because have you ever tried to anticipate the amount of trouble thirteen pre-preschoolers can get into within a four hour period? No? Okay then.

But Sunday night brought only Natalie and her rambunctious older brother Micah (he of the ‘Ribbit’ fame) and little Charlie, a self-proclaimed vegetarian at the tender age of 2.7. Charlie was early and his mother left a dinner of peas and carrots and cheerios and half of a parmesan sandwich for his eating delights. Personally, of all the choices displayed, I would have gone for the cheese sandwich and maybe some carrots. But this kid shoved his grubby fist into the cup of english peas and unloaded them unceremoniously into his mouth, kind of what I would do with cheetos if it was at all socially acceptable and had no bearing on my daily caloric intake.

Dinner complete, Charlie and I played with the beach ball until Natalie and Micah showed up, and then Charlie abandoned me for a playmate that didn’t creak with age when standing up for the bazillionth time to retrieve the beach ball that had been thrown with really good intentions but had yet again lodged itself in the far right corner.

Charlie and Micah are within three months of each other and are normally all BFF until one of them thinks about that pubescent hair that’s going to get lodged in their ass and smacks the other one with whatever hard plastic object seems to be lying around. But Sunday night was relatively uneventful, and they managed to chase each other around the room, making intermittent high-pitched growling noises at each other, avoiding the hard plastic hit-able objects.

Natalie, being eleven months and of a generally Chill persuasion, sat happily on my lap and watched the two boys act a fool, making cute oooh, aaaah noises that I’m trying to form in to Rah-been. Say: Raaah-beeen, Natalie-bug. Raaaah-beeeeeeeeen.

Towards the end of the night, Micah came over to my chair and absentmindedly pulled on the two small stretchy headbands I had wrapped around my wrist. Both were about an inch thick and black, and I immediately thought about how wicked cool these boys would look with a little Rambo-esque headband. So I held them both still while I slipped it over their heads and told them both to go play Rambo. Only I guess there’s a bit of a generational gap there because they thought I said RAINBOW, not RAMBO and spent the next forty-five minutes screaming RAINBOW! GRRRRRR! RAINBOW!


I bought a Ricky Martin CD in 1998, right before he came out with that Livin la Vida Loca song, the one where he made that video that showed a super hot girl pouring hot wax on his chest and we were all too enthralled with his Latin-ness to notice that those leather pants? Just a smidge too tight.

I originally heard Por Arriba, Por Abajo in a Mexican restaurant in Texas and I’m sure the waiters were ready to stab me in the heart for asking who was singing the song on their loudspeakers (much how I would react if a German tourist heard Tell Me Whatchew Want, Whatchew Really Really Want on the radio and begged to know who sings that delightful little song, and I’d have to grudgingly tell them that the Spice Girls sing it and then go home and cry because those German tourists, they just didn’t know any better, bless their hearts.)

I brought this album before I’d taken any Spanish and I have to say that I wish more American singers would take after Senor Martin. I don’t even speak the language that well and I can repeat back to you what he’s saying, rather than Garble Garble Hooker Ho Bag Garble Mumble Mumble. Whatever the problem is with Americans and enunciation, I’d like to know. I mean, maybe it’s that fake-platinum grill (or is it grille?) that hip hop artists feel obliged to sport. Or the lackadaisical allmywordsruntogether sound of SoCal. Or they could be like that girl, Cassie I think, that sings a song entitled Me and U, which from her song alone I can tell you she’s younger than 25 because I don’t see a lot of people nearing thirty that name a song with singular letters. Anyway, this kid Cassie could not possibly sound more bored. As in so bored I think it was just too much of an effort for her to open her damn mouth and get a sound out that doesn’t sound like it came straight from a Casio keyboard, circa 1987.


Yesterday I wore the skirt that mother once paid me two hundred dollars to never wear again, except to Wal-Mart. Because it’s okay to look like a bag lady at Wal-Mart. But the thing is, it has big deep pockets. And it’s all big and flowy and a nice greenish beige color, which doesn’t sound like a nice color but really is. So I may or may not have broken our deal by possibly wearing it to work yesterday but it’s been over a year since that deal was made and I wasn’t making any money then and I think the deal was made in an effort to make sure her daughter had more than tuna and ramen in her kitchen cabinets.

After work I met up with Amanda in the furniture department of Dillard’s, because we had an hour to kill before nursery time and they were having a sale. I’ve been looking for a couch for over a year now and I’ve come to equate couch shopping with the Prince Charming fairy tale. I keep thinking that when I see it, I’ll just know. Unfortunately this has not worked out for with the whole couch shopping thing. Or the Prince Charming thing. Which is why I’ve decided it’s a fairy tale because OBVIOUSLY the perfect couch does not exist. It still doesn’t stop me from shopping for it, however.

So as we’re leaving the store, another furniture shopping expedition thrown to the dogs, I was walking up the two flights of stairs that lead up to the parking lot. Maybe I was tired from the day or maybe that skirt is longer than I think it is, but about halfway up I got my foot caught in the front of my skirt and apparently tried to rip it clean off. Thankfully, my ass got in the way.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Please, Reach Out To Others

My post-workout soreness finally went away yesterday afternoon and I stopped getting those strange shooting pains starting at my right elbow and careening down to my finger tips, leaving that whole extremity in a state of such confusion I think the properly functioning portion of my brain overruled my normal right-handedness and started forcing me to grab cups and pens and shampoo bottles with my left. It’s very odd to grab your morning coffee with your left hand, even when you know that there’s every chance a tree will drop a leaf into the silent forest and it will inexplicably piss off your right arm, which will then revolt by sending tingling, numbing pains down to your fingertips which in turn causes you to drop whatever it is you might be holding.

I think the Workout Feeling backfired on my psyche, however, because in the past few days I’ve been unable to resist the call of Cold Stone Creamery, that bastion of public fatness, a place that takes already sweet and delicious ice cream and INJECTS MORE FAT into it, just to make it even creamier and drool inducing. I’ve been inside the doors of this hell many times and never felt innately compelled to purchase anything. I’m happy to watch other people eat it but ice cream has never really been my thing. Unless it comes with cake, and then I’m all over it. Which is how I got into trouble on Monday when I ordered the cake batter ice cream with chunks of yellow cake and pecans, all mixed in. Seriously, if I could have promised my undying devotion to this concoction, promised to love and cherish it for all time, I would have thrown my marriage views to the wind and slipped a ring on it’s cold, icy finger.

And so yesterday I found myself in the grip of the cake batter ice cream again and pulled into the parking lot before I’d even had a chance to talk myself out of it. Thankfully I ordered a small this time but seriously, like those extra 200 calories in a medium would have had any effect on the size of my ass.

I should also add that in that same day, I ate a package of chocolate ho-hos and a bag of cheetos. Things I normally would never have an inclination to eat, except maybe the cheetos and even then the only time I let myself buy them is if I can find the baked kind on the chip aisle. I do this because the baked kind don’t taste near as good as the regular kind, which makes me disinclined to eat eighteen handfuls all at once.

So maybe this working out thing isn’t for me. Maybe I should throw all caution to the wind and shove bonbons and jellybeans and baskets of fried pig feet down my throat and embrace the oversize-lady adult film industry. Because if you’ve ever googled that, and I know you have, then you’ll notice that all the men are completely normal sized and they seem to find great pleasure in lifting yards of flesh away from the important bits so they can do, you know, the thing they were hired to do.

Blech. Right now that above paragraph is enough to keep me from EVER eating bonbons without serious restraint. I kind of just threw up a little, right in my hand

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Head Down, Outta This Town

The consequences of being able to whine to your friends about not sleeping is that that they automatically feel compelled to tell you how well they slept the night before. As if to prove, yet again, that something as intrinsically natural as laying your head upon a squishy surface and falling asleep is just something you should be able to do, something like blinking your eyelids or wriggling your toes. And while I know they mean nothing but the best, it still doesn’t curb that initial rush of hatred that wants to scream out SO WHAT, DO YOU THINK THAT MAKES YOU COOL OR SOMETHING?!?

When in fact it does make them cool. It also makes them less irritable and cranky, seeing as how they had at least six and sometimes nine hours of full recuperative rest. It’s just, imagine you eat lunch at a nice restaurant with one of your girlfriends and you both happen to order the salmon. It’s tasty and delicious and perfectly cooked but about an hour later you’re clutching your stomach as it does it’s eighth double back handspring in a row. Your friend is sympathetic to your cause because, hello, we’ve all been there. But somehow she feels obligated to tell you how perfectly fine her stomach feels, how she has no idea what could have caused your stomach to revolt against such delicious salmon and did you do something to piss off the chef?

And as far as I know I did nothing to piss off the Sleep Gods. I lay down at an acceptable hour every single night, usually eschewing an evening of festivities so I can recline on my pristine white sheets. I don’t watch late-night television, I dim the lights in my apartment to simulate evening hours and I don’t stay on the computer trolling dating sites until the wee hours of the morn. I rarely drink caffeine after 3pm. In short, I have a bedtime routine, the kind that all the sleep literature recommends. And still I lay awake, night after night, begging the Sleeping Gods to reward my good behavior and send me an all expense paid vacation to La La Land.

Once I realized a couple of months ago that this whole not sleeping thing wasn’t normal, not by any stretch of the imagination, I decided to go to my doctor. That visit didn’t go well, especially after he not-so-subtly intimated that perhaps my not sleeping was directly proportional to me wanting to take a razor to my wrists. I had to inform him that sleeplessness is not always related to depression, which is not always related to wanting to kill yourself. And if anyone in that small doctor’s room was in danger of losing their life, it was most definitely not me.

This morning I bypassed my regular doctor for one who specializes in folks who just want to get some shuteye. Inside his office on the fifth floor I spent over an hour chatting with him about family medical history (we die of everything, but we hang around for a really long time) and my jobs and my hobbies and as we wrapped up the hobby section, he told me that before we go any further, he’d like to confirm some of his preliminary thoughts.

“Your nose lists to the right a bit. I’d say you have a deviated septum. And your mouth is quite small, I bet you hate getting X-rays at the dentist.”

At first I was kind of insulted, like, who the hell are you to talk about my nose listing to the right? My nose is lovely, thank you. The only people who talk about deviated septums are overly indulged rich girls who think they can get their insurance to pay for shaving three inches off the tip and filing down the bump. But then he took out a mirror and said, see, look here, and pointed to the right side. And you know, I had to agree with him. Then he took out his little black instrument with the light on the end and shoved it up my nostril, proclaiming that he was indeed correct and the septum was actually touching the bone on the opposite side.

I had a little moment of panic because of all the surgery shows I watch, the only thing I can’t watch are the nose jobs. Noses are so delicate and fragile and while I agree that some of the people come out looking much better, seeing that poor defenseless bone get hammered into submission is almost too much for me to bear.

I told the doctor of my nose-job fear and he agreed that my nose was quite nice (my nose-pride was instantly restored, thank god) and said surgery was the least of our worries right now. His worry was getting me into the sleep clinic to see what a night hooked up to wires and a video camera could tell him.

And then he said he noticed that at the end of the questionnaire I’d filled out, the fifteen pages of yes and no and how frequently and fill in the blank questions, I’d answered the last bit with “If you make me sleep I will give you a cookie.” And then he told me he was quite fond of oatmeal raisin.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

You Appear To Be My Dues To Pay.

I bought a yoga mat like six years ago and I can confidently say that in those six years, I've probably taken it out of the closet maybe ten times. Out of those ten times, I've probably used it for it's intended purposes maybe two or three. The rest of the time I normally throw it on the floor with every intention of doing something yogatastic and instead get distracted by a surgery on the Discovery Health channel and I'll sit cross-legged on it until my ass falls asleep, convincing myself that it's necessary for me to watch yet another cleft palate reconstruction or one more endoscopic brow lift.

Before I put the mat back up, I'll do a quick test to confirm that I can still bend over and put my hands on the floor. Then I'll roll it into it's little carrying case and throw it back in the catch-all closet, ready for the next time I think I'm going to make an attempt at being skinny.

But last night I was bored to tears, bored like I was at the age of twelve and sent to tennis camp for some aerobic activity and outdoor fun. Though if I'm honest the tennis camp debacle was a combination of boredom and outright annoyance, expressed to the full extent of my pre-teen abilities by sitting with my back against the fence and deliberately ignoring the instructor when she used her faux-enthusiasm to encourage me to get off my ass and try it already, I might even like it.

I did not like that woman very much.

In my boredom I somehow found myself driving to the supercenter across town with no list of groceries and no need for batteries or light bulbs or lint roller refills. It was odd walking in the store like that, with just a total lack of ambition or designated plan of action. I always have lists. Always. Right now I have a post-it note list on my laptop at work, waiting for me to walk in on Monday and know exactly what I need to do before eight. I have a list of things I need to do, letters I need to write, harassing emails I need to compose, friends I need to call. And somehow I still remain neurotic enough to forget to pay my water bill or deposit money in my bank account.

So I wondered around the store for a bit, stopping off in cosmetics and throwing random products in my buggy, products that claim to make my curls soft and frizz-free, another that promises to help straighten wavy hair. (To be used separately, obviously.) Then I was back in electronics, perusing the aisles of music and thinking how I have no idea who Ne-Yo or Chingy or Cheyenne Kimball are, but they're all featured prominently on the displays.

Then it was off to DVD's and I couldn't find a single thing that I wanted, because I don't buy DVD's that I can rent for two dollars at Movie Xchange and throw in the return box when I'm done watching them. But as I was walking down the last aisle a picture of an impossibly fit woman caught my eye and before I knew what I was doing, I'd picked up the double disc set of ab and arm and butt and leg and probably pinkie toe exercises and thrown it in the buggy, right next to the shiny green bottles of hair product. Then I marched over to sporting goods and threw in two ten-pound weights, just because whatever I was high on must taken over the properly functioning part of my brain. I've never purchased weights before, never had the desire to, simply because for my entire childhood my father kept a set of ancient brown weights on the fireplace and it drove my mother absolutely insane that the only time those things got used were, um, never. Their entire purpose in life was to collect dust and dog hair and cat fur.

As I was walking out to my car, however, I think I came a little to my senses. The bag with the weights was heavy. Like, for real heavy. And I was going to do what with these exactly? OH MY GOD I'M TURNING INTO MY FATHER. Next thing you know I'll keep stacks of engineering magazines by my chair as an homage to fire hazards everywhere.

Oh well, at least I'll get more productive with a hammer. Maybe even use some nails.

This morning I got up because some asshole was knocking on my neighbors door yelling JOHN! bam bam bam JOOOOHN! I could have helped the guy by politely pointing out that JOHN! is not home, see how there are no cars in the driveway? No car equals no JOHN! so please go home and have a nice burrito. But instead I opened my back door and anonymously yelled out "SHUT THE FUCK UP OR I'M GOING TO CUT YOU." And then I quickly shut my door and closed all my curtains, because I'm a little crazy but I'm not actually stupid.

Since I was up, I decided it was time to bring out the old blue yoga mat and pop one of my new get-yourself-skinny exercise DVD's. I grabbed a glass of water because, though it's been a while since I've deliberately made myself sweat, I hear it's good to keep hydrated while bouncing around your living room.

After fifteen minutes of jumping jacks and leg lifts and strange butt-lifting abdominal crunches, I lay panting on my blue yoga mat, thinking these people are smoking something illegal to think I can get my ass off the floor, much less do one more leg swirly kick thing.

And then I turned my head and got an in-depth look at the dust bunnies under my couch and I dragged myself off the floor to add Sweep Under Couch to my to-do list.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

'La vache est un idiot' is the only thing I remember from French class.

As I was driving home this evening I happened to get caught at a downtown red light, one that afforded me an unobstructed view of the early evening sky. In the distance I could see a plane, obviously in it’s beginning efforts of climbing to a respectable altitude, and I was struck by the obscene angle by which it was traveling. It seemed impossible that the passengers inside weren’t being thrown upwards and over their uncomfortably close seats and I immediately envisioned the warning printed on bags of chips, proclaiming that Contents May Settle During Shipping.

For whatever reason I thought about the first time I’d ever been on a plane. The destination was Maastricht, a small university town about an hour’s train ride outside of Amersterdam. My friend Kasi and I had spent a weekend early in the spring semester writing grant proposals for our trip, researching plane fares and in general attempting to contain our excitement at embarking on our first-ever across the pond excursion. When our grants came through we immediately sat down to book our flights, an adventure in and of itself as Kasi had spent the entirety of her previous college career laboriously typing upon a word processor, eschewing The Internet as a thing of demonic possession. She was determined to make her reservations on her own, however, and knowing Kasi as I did, I finally slipped out of my room, leaving Kasi to her own devices and praying my computer would be in one piece by the time I got back.

Our tickets came a week later and both of us slipped them between the pages of our crisp passports, complaining of the hideousness of our passport photos. We’d scheduled the trip around spring break, choosing to miss three days of classes on either end of the vacation to allow for more travel time and recuperation from jet lag, which strangely I never felt. Probably because the entire time overseas I stuck almost religiously to my own local time, not caring that I woke up in early afternoon because the museums were open until five and the hash bars were open all night.

When it came time for us to leave, Kasi and I packed our suitcases full of everything imaginable. We would be staying with friends in the international dorms so they’d prepared us for the weather but it’s amazing how the words ‘Spring’ and ‘Break’ can infiltrate your head so that you still pack a few tank tops and shorts, just in case the weather should warm up. In March. In The Netherlands. Right-o.

We were scheduled to fly out of Little Rock at 4pm on a Wednesday but due to weather or plane malfunction or just some newbie with an affection for the delete key, our flight was canceled for the evening and we were given meal vouchers as compensation. So Kasi and I ate dinner and then drove the thirty miles back to Conway to wait out yet another day before our trip could begin. The next day we showed up in the airport again, still wearing our polar fleece ‘traveling clothes’ which looked nothing so much like actual clothing as soft and cuddly pajamas.

The first flight from Little Rock to Memphis was horrendous, and I remember thinking that if I had to survive this turmoil and tossing about I would surely never make it through the upcoming flights from Memphis to JFK, JFK to Amsterdam and Amsterdam to Maastricht. But the flight to New York was more subdued and the flight across the ocean was much like sitting on a cloud with a constantly rumbly tummy. The only parts I truly hated were the take off and landing, feeling myself either pushed back against my seat by some invisible and unkind hand or pitched forward against the paltry restraint of my seat belt.

The trip itself was fabulous. We spent hours each day roaming the streets of Maastricht and passing ourselves off as students in the dorm cafeteria, feasting on bread with butter and delectable chocolate sprinkles, avoiding the strange meats in the spaghetti and the other meats just in general. We made trips into Amsterdam and found a bar that was actually a boat permanently moored to the side of a canal. We took a four day trip to Paris where we climbed the steps of Sacre Coeur, amusing ourselves to no end with our ridiculous French accents, relying on my two years of high school French to count out bits of change and say things like ‘Laisssez moi tranquille!’ (leave me alone!) when shabbily dressed gypsy women tried to con the shoes off our feet.

Before the trip I’d convinced a new professor to let me take one of the media department’s new digital camcorders and I spent the majority of my time filming our bus rides and train rides and various museum excursions, one of them being a tour of the famous Amsterdam Sex Museum. The museum itself was worth far more than the paltry two dollars we paid to get in because inside were six, seven and eight foot tall penile replicas, along with various artifacts ranging from carved jade depicting rather amusing acts by extremely flexible individuals to short films detailing the evolution of sex (and our reactions to it) throughout the ages.

In my tv cabinet reside two small tapes that hold footage of Kasi and I inside this museum and one day I will befriend someone with access to a converter and the willingness to transfer these to DVD. Because one Christmas many years from now, I’m going to present to Kasi the footage of her standing directly under the curved overhang of an eight foot tall penis, lovingly throwing her leg around the base and ungracefully falling on her ass. And then I’m going to throw in the part where we ran across a shopkeeper who was quite enthralled with our Americaness and insisted on showing us his American Dollars, which happened to be very realistic looking dollars except for the fact that on the front, where George Washington’s stoic and immobile face usually resides, was Monica Lewinsky paying special attention to something that was most definitely not a cigar.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Spies Like Us

My oh my oh MY.

This afternoon I spent the majority of my time cleaning. Not because I really wanted to but because the one place I wanted to clean was and remains unavailable for cleaning.

You see, around 3am I woke up to this utterly atrocious splattering noise. I couldn't possibly imagine what it was but immediately blamed it on The Demonspawn. Upon further inspection, however, I ascertained that The Demonspawn were innocent of my accusations with the real culprit being my bathroom ceiling. Apparently it had been storing up a filthy present for a good long time and chose the middle of the night to make it's grand entrance, pouring and splashing a ricockulous (look YoJ, I used it in a sentence) amount of water all over my bathroom floor.

It would have been too much to ask that it burst over the bathtub, wouldn't it.

There wasn't much I could do in the middle of the night so I waited until morning to ring up my landlord. He sent over one of his maintenance men to cut out the sagging plaster and while I appreciate the gesture, all that did was put a layer of soggy dust over the already soppy floor. And because the ceiling is still dripping there's not much point in me cleaning it up, not to mention the fact that my bathroom is so small that there's no place I can stand to clean up the mess without putting myself in the line of (dirty dripping water) fire.

So in lieu of cleaning the bathroom I found myself angrily scrubbing the windows and polishing the armoire and mopping the floors. I scooped the cat litter and took out the trash and lint rolled the furniture. And then I decided I'd clean up the back porch, because I'd let it go all summer and in three short months my pretty glider had been covered in a layer of sticky dust and the poor potted plants had shriveled up inside their terra cotta pots. The plants have actually been dead for a year but I've just been ignoring them, hoping that one day they'd magically sprout again. I have a complete lack of anything pertaining to a green thumb and the opressive humidity found in this part of the country was the biggest deterrent in replanting some greenery.

As I was grabbing the broom off the wall I happened to look outside and spied an unusual vehicle. Not unusual as in lime green unusual but unusual as in I know the two cars that park on my neighbor's parking pad and this shiny SUV wasn't one of them, not to mention that it was parked at an odd angle. My next door neighbor is what you might call cranky and I almost went outside to tell this new person to move their car before Mr. Crankpot got home but decided whoever this was, they could fight their own battles and secretly I was kind of amused that the SUV was blocking the entrance of the driveway.

Upon going out on the back porch to begin the process of sweeping away a summer's worth of crap, I saw a woman in her mid-sixties walking around the edge of my neighbor's house, the part where the outdoor stairs lead to the upstairs apartment that Mr. Crankpot rents out. I smiled and waived and noticed she was getting various cleaning accoutrements from the back of the SUV so I stopped my sweeping to ask her if she was moving in.

No, she said, just my son.

About that time I see, out of the corner of my eye, a rather tall and broad shouldered individual emerging from the side of the building. The woman smiles at me and introduces her son, Jake, and I walk over and shake his hand.

Hell-o, sugar. My name is Robin and I'll be your cute and SINGLE SINGLE SINGLE neighbor. How ever can I assist you today?

Oh, you're gainfully employed? And you speak in complete sentences? And you have all of your natural born teeth? WHAT MORE COULD I ASK?

Now, guess who's going to be making a concerned effort to take her evening coffee on the back porch? GUESS.