Thursday, August 31, 2006

I Wish I Could Quit You

God was playing a practical joke when he decided to put me in Wisconsin, I explain to people. Me, who doesn't like snow or cold or winter. Who is very much a city girl. Who has never milked a cow in her entire life. Who would shrivel up and die without museums and the symphony and a Banana Republic within driving distance. Ha ha! Funny guy, that God fellow.

The political creature in me has been getting itchy lately. It's an election year, but nothing terribly exciting is going on out here in Cali -- the Governator is sure to win's a snoozefest. A friend suggested I volunteer on a campaign. Somewhere, anywhere that looked interesting, competitive and in need of some help.

I immediately jumped on the idea. This is exactly the kind of adventure/experience I'm show up, site unseen, and throw myself into whatever comes my way. You can't plan for it, just dive into the deep end and come up laughing.

I trolled party websites and pestered some friends for info. I read the National Journal's list of the 25 most competitive races (updated weekly, including last week's ranking, just like college football polls!) and clicked on campaign sites for various races across the country. I could go anywhere -- it's all just a plane ride away.

There's a certain aesthetic associated with the Midwest. Everyone pictures the cows and the corn and the pick-up trucks and the wholesome Norman-Rockwell-painting goodness of it all. And, while that's a bit of an exaggeration, it is absolutely like that.

The people. Oh, the people! They are good and kind and hard-working. And, yes, they might like guns and beer and tobacco, but they go to church every Sunday and take their neighbors a casserole when someone dies and teach their children that money isn't everything, but the Golden Rule is not to be messed with. They don't want everything. They just want what's right and fair, and they're willing to work for it, even if they never achieve it.

A couple hours of research netted me several good leads. The frontrunner, and the first campaign that caught my eye, was the same one a friend had annotated, "Looks good, but do you really want to spend time in Indiana?"

In 20 Hours in America (West Wing, season 4, and it's not plagiarism if you attribute it!) Donna rebukes Josh and Toby for their non-stop talk about big-picture policies and DC-centric thinking, rather than noticing what was going on in the Heartland: "I am not kidding. I have such an impulse to knock your heads together. I can't remember the last time I heard you two talk about anything other than how a campaign was playing in Washington. ... You made fun of the fair but you didn't see they have livestock exhibitions and give prizes for the biggest tomato and the best heirloom apple. They're proud of what they grow. Eight modes of transportation, the kindness of six strangers, random conversations with twelve more, and nobody brought up Bartlet versus Ritchie but you."

It is absolutely like that.

The people. These are MY people. I know them. I know what they worry about. I know what they value. I know what makes them get out of bed every morning.

I know, because I am absolutely one of them. You can take the girl outta the Midwest, but you can't take the Midwest outta the girl! At least, not this girl.

And that is why tomorrow I'm getting on a plane, bound for a campaign in Indiana, working for and with people I've never met but have known all my life. And if there’s a campaign event at the county fair, I’ll be the first to volunteer for a shift in the milking barn.

Note to you work-type folks: While I'm sure you all know my political persuasion, this volunteering-on-a-campaign thing is uncharted territory in my office, and I'm implementing a Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, so please keep this info on the D.L. Officially, I'm going to Indiana to visit my sister. Which is true, but obviously not the whole story. Thanks muchly.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

iTuned Out

Gotta keep this short, else I'll keel over from exhaustion.

I have (yet another) request for all you nice people out there in Internetland...

I'm tired of the music on my iPod. Specifically, my "Music To Run To" playlist is boring me to tears. And really, crying while running isn't pretty. Well, running isn't all that pretty to begin with, but the crying tends to scare other people and we don't need that.

So. Please to recommend one or two or ten songs/albums/artists I should add to the collection? Remember, I want to RUN to this music, so I'm looking for up-tempo music. Fast(ish) music. Happy music.

Finally, songs with an I-love-you-the-world-is-so-great-because-you're-
in-it-I-love-you theme are expressly prohibited, unless they're by Weird Al and he's totally being ironic, in which case, send 'em over!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Float On

My life's been a little scattered lately. There's the usual work stuff, the usual personal stuff, the (thankfully) unusual personal stuff, the stuff-that-blurs-the-line-between-work-stuff-and-personal-stuff, not to mention traveling every time I turn around. My suitcase has claimed a permanent spot on my bedroom floor, half-filled, either coming or going. Putting it away is a seemingly wasted effort.

In short, I needed a vacation. A restful vacation.

In Montana, I got that. There were no alarm clocks (save for Dad's internal clock that wakes him up at 5 am daily, even on vacation, and yes, I think it may be genetic), no tickets to a museum that had timed entry, no real need to consult a watch, not that I wear one anyway. And, once I discovered there was little cell coverage in the park, I left my phone at the hotel, thereby rendering me unable to determine the time without consulting the sun or my stomach, neither of which provided anything better than a rough estimate.

I didn't go to Montana to think. In fact, I went with the specific intention of NOT thinking. I think plenty as it is, thank you very much, and often without trying. I went to see a part of the country I've never seen before, to wear my body out hiking and to get a good night's sleep for the love of Pete.

Sunday afternoon I had a little time to myself, so I headed to the outdoor pool, InStyle magazine and iPod in hand. The pool was empty and surprisingly warm, so I ditched my stuff on a nearby deck chair and slid into the water. (Despite the fact that the pool was 8 feet deep, I abided by the NO DIVING sign because I'm good like that. I think that's genetic, too.) After swimming for a while, I flipped over onto my back, determined to relax and just float there, making as little an imprint on the water as possible.

It was surprisingly difficult.

I lay there, eyes closed, trying to resist kicking my legs or moving my arms. I allowed myself just enough movement to stay afloat, and that's all. The goal was not to make my way across the pool, but to stay right where I was.

I thought about how much I was enjoying being outdoors, hiking through the mountains, and how I never have the time for it, and I've got a whole western third of the country to explore. I should hike more.

I thought about the pie we drove through the entire park to get to because someone said it was the best pie around, and proceeded to eat it in the middle of the afternoon, and how I haven't made a pie since...well, since I lived at home, I think. I should bake more pies.

I thought about how this floating thing was actually pretty good for me, that ordinarily I am a Very Serious Person and tend to go up and down with each passing wave. I should learn to float more.

These things, they make me happy. Why don't I do them more often? I should spend more time doing the things that make me happy. But where am I going to find the time?

Then it hit me: on the weekend. That's where you'll find the time, silly, on the weekend. You can hop in the car, drive six hours and spend two days hiking over a weekend. You can devote an entire afternoon to baking a pie (with crust made from scratch) and cleaning the kitchen on a Sunday. You can spend two hours running and doing yoga at the gym on Saturday mornings. It's the weekend, stupid!

Rejuvenated by this stream-of-consciousness issue-identification and problem-solving, and feeling mentally settled for the first time in a while, I reached my right arm out of the water, over my head, took a deep breath, pulled myself through a backwards somersault and resumed swimming.

Driving home from the airport, so eager was I to effectuate this plan, I stopped at the mall first.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

It's About Love. No, Really, It Is!

It's Love Thursday, the brainchild of Chookooloonks and momster. And seeing as how I express negative feelings much more often than positive ones, I figure I can use a weekly reminder to be happy, grateful, and effusive. Publicly. Don't let this scare you.

Today I am loving Christal, who was quite sympathetic regarding my most recent boy fiasco. I believe she even complimented me on my ability to be a bitch in real-time. Which, um, yes. (Hey, we all have talents.)

As if that weren't enough, she sent me this card:

The inside text reads: Me?! Sick of men? Why do you ask?

Even better was the note Christal wrote, including, "Please use the pins judiciously."

Who wouldn't love her?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Glacier National Park, Day 1

Montana: Land of Sky, Mountains and the Occasional Wildlife

Here is but a sampling -- there are approximately fourteen gajillion more on Flickr. (No attempt at editing has been made (yet) so don't make fun of my photographic skills, uh, or lack thereof. Yeah, I should really take a all my sparetime. If it means I spend less time with a photo editor, it might be worth it!)

Big Sky Country, indeed.

Mountains, mountains everywhere!

And some water, too.



Thursday, August 17, 2006

Into the Woods

Destination: Glacier National Park. Because I'm the outdoorsy type.

Friend: You're really going rafting tomorrow?
Me: Yeah. Why not?
Friend: Um...
Friend: You mean my extensive handbag collection and shoe obsession don't lead you to believe that I'm the outdoorsy type?
Friend: Exactly. "Outdoorsy" is NOT the first word that comes to mind when describing you.

[Yes, rafting trip. Pictures and stories when I get around to it. The delay is not entirely my fault -- the picture people had a three-week turnaround time. Damn them!]

I'm leaving for vacation momentarily, but wanted to let you know that posting may be light for the next week or so. (And this would be different, how???) (Shut up.)

The hotel promises FREE Wireless Internet in EVERY ROOM!!! Since we're going to be in the middle of nowhere, I doubt there will be any exciting stories to tell. But, I'll attempt to post pictures and you, too, can feel like you're on vacation, despite the fact that you're, you know, sitting at your desk staring at the computer.

Updates soon!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I &hearts the Internet

Seriously, You Tube? Best. Invention. Ever.

Forget those boring chain e-mails about how fantastic your girlfriends are, or what school project some nine-year old is doing, please put your first name and city here and forward to eleven hundred of your closest friends, now you can waste everyone's time with classics like this little gem.

But first, turn down the volume on your computer!

My Cubicle - James Blunt Parody

Psssst, Steve! Where were you on this one? I can't believe you let somebody beat you to the punch.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

And Now, For Something Completely Different...

The lovely Horrible Warning has tagged me for a meme. And while I discovered this in a timely fashion, I've been a little slow to acutally DO IT ALREADY because I've been bitter and angry and vodka-infused busy this week.

Anyhow, here it is, the Wikipedia Meme.

1. Go to Wikipedia.
2. In the Search box, type your birth month and day (but not year).
3. List three events that happened on your birthday.
4. List two important birthdays and one interesting death.
5. One holiday or observance (if any).
6. Tag more poor, unsuspecting suckers people.

My Results

627 - Battle of Nineveh: A Byzantine army under Emperor Heraclius defeated Emperor Khosrau II's Persian forces, commanded by General Rhahzadh.
Duh. I can't believe you didn't know that.

1531 - Apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe to Juan Diego in Mexico City.
I actually did know this, though I had no idea what year it was. The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is on my birthday, and, as she is the patron saint of the Americas, it's often noted at church.

(All the non-Catholics reading this are either asleep by now or frantically looking up terms like "patron saint." Heathens.)

2000 - The United States Supreme Court released its decision in Bush v. Gore.
Maybe we just won't talk about this one, mm-kay? Other than to say GAH!!! and Way to ruin my birthday forever, jerks!

Born 1745 - John Jay, 1st Chief Justice of the United States
Born 1915 - Frank Sinatra, American singer and actor
Born 1924 - Ed Koch, Mayor of New York City
Born 1940 - Dionne Warwick, American singer
Born 1977 - Orlando Hudson, American baseball player

Yes, I know I'm not following the directions, but I'm allowed to take liberties like that. My birthday-sharers are awesome! Someday, I'll sing my way to being the mayor of New York, which will be the perfect preparation for my appointment as Supreme Court justice, don't you think?

Also, I'd like to point out that the O-Dog is one year older and approximately 75,458,043 times richer than me, which just does not seem fair. AND he gets a Golden Glove! Nobody gives me gold crafted in the shape of a glove! Or any other shape for that matter. *Pout.*

Died 1889 - Robert Browning, British poet
Died 1929 - Charles Goodnight, American cattle baron

Ok, seriously, nobody cool died on my birthday. Except for that cattle baron guy -- how cool would it be to be a cattle baron? Filet Mignon every night!

Also, I think we should note the death of AMERICAN DEMOCRACY AS WE KNEW IT. (See "Events" above.)

As I mentioned, in the Catholic church it is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Also, in Kenya it's Jamhuri Day, celebrating their independence from Great Britain.

I'll refrain from tagging others (except for Lori, because I'm mean like that), but if you've nothing better to do at work this week, pop on over to Wikipedia and leave your results in the comments to amuse the rest of us.

And, for the record, my birthday is December 12. Feel free to send cards, gifts, Golden Gloves, diamond tiaras, etc. Or just cake. Cake is good.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Update! Now with 33% More Sarcasm!

  • If an hour of kickboxing followed by an hour of yoga sounds like the perfect remedy to your day (kick the shit out of Shithead Boy, then cleanse your mind, body and soul with stretching and concentrated breathing), you're wrong. You will spend kick-boxing class concentrating VERY HARD on following what the On Crack Instructor is doing (and wanting to kick the shit out of her) and then get pretty much no benefit from yoga, except perhaps for the balance exercises, because your concentration is shot and "Fuck you, you fucking fuck" is not really the mantra the yogis had in mind for bringing oneself to a peaceful, rested place. And you will still hurt the next day. I recommend a fortnight of drinking with Neal instead.

  • I've never really noticed how often people ask, "How are you today?" Until today when I smiled and told people "Good, thanks!" when I was really thinking, (Ha! What bullshit! Can't I just grocery shop/bank/drink in fucking peace because I don't think you want the real answer?) on five separate occasions. [Mental note: Never again ask a stranger how they are. E-VER.]

  • My new diet seems to be working wonders. For my mental health, at least...not so sure about the nutritional value. Maybe I should toss in a couple of multi-vitamins for good measure.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Feels So Good but Damn It Makes Me Hurt

Warning: this post is rated MA (Mature Audience only) for language, violence and adult content. Please send your small children to bed, or go entertain yourself here instead.

It's days like today that make me homesick, for my old life, my old friends, my old routines. If I still lived in DC, Neal and I would be hitting the bars. HARD. For a few days (weeks) on end. I don't know what he'd be drinking -- for all the times we've done this, I've never paid any attention to his choice of liquor -- but I'd be busily attempting to ensure that my blood stream contains more vodka molecules than red blood cells. After the first three drinks have been consumed, back-to-back, no-need-to-set-the-glass-down-until-
it's-empty, invariably I'd say "boys are dumb" and he'd reply "AAMO! AAMO!"* followed by a pep talk about how said boy was a stupid piece of shit. And by the end of the night I'd feel better. Well, technically I wouldn't feel anything, but that generally qualifies as "better." (I'd also wake up the next morning and cry. The ratio of tears-due-to-
hangover-pain to tears-due-to-stupid-boy-pain varies by event, but the tears, they are a constant. And probably the only liquid left in my body.)

*AAMO: Accept. Adapt. Move On.

It's not a bad concept, really. But I'm not so good at the acceptance part. Adapting and Moving On? Those are infinitely easier tasks than Accepting. First, there is a certain way that life SHOULD be, or way in which people SHOULD act, and it's difficult for me to let go of some of those "shoulds." Second, I really, truly want to think the best of people, despite my outermost cynical layer(s) (ok, many, many layers), and to accept that someone is simply evil/horrible/unworthy of my time feels like I'm giving up on them. And I'm not one for giving up. Pretty much ever.

If you listen to me talk long enough (and if you've been reading since January, I guess that's probably long enough) you will hear me say "We all make choices." It's not good; it's not bad; it just is. If I had to have a one-sentence worldview, or choose my epitaph, this would be it. Every single thing we do involves a choice. Whether it's choosing to take an action or choosing to not take an action, at the root of everything is a choice someone made.

Here is my choice: I am getting off this fucking carousel. The music has stopped, the operator is shooing everyone away, and the new patrons are loading. It's time for me to go explore the rest of the fair.

The Carousel Ride from Hell looks something like this: First contact is (re-)established. Then we go about being friends. Then things drift into "more than friends" territory. Then I discover -- in any number of ways, and believe me, I'm running out of ways, so if you have any suggestions, feel free to pass them along -- that there's another woman in the picture. Then we fight. (By which I mean, I speak in polysyllabic words with a strong voice and he refuses to apologize, answer questions, agree or disagree with anything I've said, and generally just waits for the phone call to be over. The height of cooperation and productivity, I tell you!) Finally, we take a few weeks off without speaking to each other. Lather, rinse, repeat.

(Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Keep repeating. One more time. Oops, just kidding! Repeat again! Repeat.)


Of course, getting off the carousel isn't the hard part. No, it's resisting the urge to buy another ticket and get back in line that's tricky. The allure of the music and the shiny mirrors and the pretty horses are sometimes enough to make me forget that this carousel doesn't actually go anywhere but up and down, round and round. It may be a nice little diversion for a while, but at the end of the ride, I'm back where I started. The scenery never changes.

And, in adopting Neal's approach, I have to accept that. Accept that it isn't good for me. Accept that I believed an awful lot of lies, both spoken and unspoken. Accept that he's a jackass who will screw me at every given opportunity. Accept that these facts are not going to change.

I know that this is the right thing, the best way for me to adapt, to move on. Doesn't mean that I like it, but that's just tough, huh?

We all make choices. This is mine.

In keeping with current campaign finance rules, I offer you equal access to media coverage. Op-ed piece, 750 words, published on the date of your choosing. I may not be very nice, but I'm a stickler for being fair.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Things that make me realize I'm actually a grown-up. Shit.
  • Having a compulsive need to clean the house before I left town, including mopping the kitchen and bathroom floors, instead of, say, taking a nap. Or allotting myself more than thirty minutes to pack.
  • Upon discovering I have no jarred spaghetti sauce to go over tonight’s frozen ravioli dinner, I decide to make my own because, really, it's not that difficult. I have the genius idea to toss in a splash (ok, about 3/4 of a cup) of red wine from that half-full bottle that's been sitting on the shelf for a month and probably isn’t worth drinking anymore. Not only does this episode showcase my sophisticated culinary palate and mad kitchen skillz, it makes me realize I opened a bottle of wine and didn't manage to finish it within three hours. Or even three days.
  • I purchased underwear at Target. Underwear that comes in a four-pack. Because I had a $1 off coupon for it. (In all fairness, I was hoping to use the coupon on athletic socks, which are totally ok to buy from Target in some kind of multi-pack, but apparently Hanes doesn't make women's athletic socks, or Target doesn't sell them, or God hates me, because I wandered back and forth between the lingerie department and the hosiery department no fewer than six times looking for some damn socks.)
  • The fact that I have been living without my glasses for ten days now, as they are being outfitted with new lenses, which leaves me with the choice of wearing my super-dry-been-in-too-long-
    already-today-contacts (thus rendering me half-blind), or squinting-as-much-as-possible-but-not-for-too-long-or-I'll-give-
    myself-a-headache (thus rendering me half-sighted). [I kid you not, I'm typing in bold, 28-point font right now, just so I can see the words without having to squint too much. However, I'm going insane with only getting about six words to a line.] I foresee many trips to the LARGE PRINT section of the library in my retirement.

Things that make me question whether I'm really worthy of the aforementioned "grown-up" status.
  • Arriving home from my travels ready to crawl into bed…only to discover that there are no sheets on my bed. (I stripped the bed in my cleaning frenzy but apparently didn't get around to re-making it.) Deciding I'm too tired to deal with it now, I'll just sleep here between the mattress pad and duvet, it won't be so bad. That was three nights ago. The clean sheets are still sitting in the linen closet waiting for me.
  • Realizing that my drink of choice with the frozen-ravioli-and-homemade-spaghetti-sauce-dinner is bright red, fruit punch-flavored Crystal Light. Looks and tastes just like the Kool-Aid we drank by the gallon as kids.
  • The fact that, after deciding that socks weren't in the cards and I would just have to buy some stinkin' underwear, it took me more than ten minutes to settle on a package of underwear. Because I don't like those colors!!! *Stomps foot and huffs.* (Of course, the colors I liked came in "brief cut" two sizes too big. I have my limits, people. Anything that does not contain the word "thong" in the description is not coming home with me, I don't care how valuable of a coupon you sent me.)
  • Corollary: I quite shamelessly mention my choice of unmentionables to the entire Internet. Nice. Perhaps I could pull my skirt up over my head and spin in circles, thereby leaving nothing to the imagination, until my very embarrassed mother pulls me aside and talks to me about the lady-like behavior that is required when we wear a pretty dress to a party.
  • The fact that I'm sitting on my bed, Indian-style, with the laptop perched in my lap to write this. Shortly we'll be singing songs, telling ghost stories and braiding each other's hair.