Sunday, February 28, 2010

Well, I've Never Been to Spain, but I Kinda Like the Music

The top part of the cupboard boxes are finally painted.

So, kids. This weekend was much better than last, but still pretty crazy. Friday was very, very nice. I thought I'd give myself an evening to relax before I got all crazy for the next two days. I bought a nice bottle of Pinot at the Co-op on my way home, then went running and then Stinky went to the inter-town rivals' basketball game and Coadster and I watched Frost Nixon. It was pretty interesting. I was worried it would just be a reenactment of the interviews, and there was some of that in it, but the back drama was really interesting. It also tied-in nicely with me reading America America which takes place during the '72 election. Cool.

Saturday started out on a messy note. I heard Stinky yelling my name in the other room. Turns out the toilet was overflowing and instead of just plunging it, she called me and by the time I got to it, water had flowed into the hall and into my bedroom and under my new counters still sitting on my floor. Lovely. I cleaned it all up and got Coadster to the high school to pack boxes for the Haiti Earthquake victims and Stinky to track practice. I got a nice long run in and finally finished sanding my cupboards and got them primed for the most part.

By Saturday evening, I was in kind of a weird space. The walls of my house were closing in and I was tired of huffing oil based primer, but I didn't really feel like doing karaoke with my friends. Luckily, I found out some other friends were at the Dublin. It turned out to be a really fun night. One of the female bartenders got a few of us to play a game called "I Never...". If you don't know how it works, everybody takes turns saying something they've never done before and if you've done that thing, then you have to drink. It can be about anything, but of course, we all thought it was way more embarrassing and fun to center most of them around sex. It can also get tricky when you bring in double and triple negatives into it, "...I never, didn't do something, something, something...." And after a while you have no idea if you were supposed to drink if you did or didn't do said thing, so you end up drinking (and when I say you, I really mean me) to everything and get a little saucy. But after huffing oil based paint fumes, I was probably a little saucy to begin with. Hey, what's a few more brains cells, right?

So, today I finally finished painting my upper cupboard boxes. I can't tell you how happy I'll be when my kitchen isn't in a continual state of chaos and messiness. I'm going to see when I can get my counters put in and keep working on the rest of the cupboards. Tomorrow morning, I'm supposed to get my new hot water heater. Not super exciting, but it's so much better than worrying when the hot water heater is going to die in the middle of a cold Winter night (because as we all know, that's when that shit always goes down). Because I'm purchasing it on March 1st, I should be eligible for $100 rebate from the state and a $75 rebate from our energy supplier here. Sweet!

Okay. I think that's about enough out of me.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

It Will End Again In Moonlit Song

Here is the edge of my very rustic screened-in porch. I can't wait until I get to start using it. The girls and I found some really nice chairs for it.

Ooooh, kids. I can't believe how damn fast this week went. It was so much better than last week and I got some sweet, beautiful alone time and I'm reading a good book and finally back into the swing of working on my house again. I must have been a little burnt-out and felt overwhelmed for a few weeks there, but now I feel refreshed and I'm trudging right along again. I can always tell when I'm back in the game when I start obsessively making lists. Maybe planning is a sign of being hopeful for me. Hmmmm.

Anyway, this weekend I have crazy to-do lists and to-buy lists and to-research lists and to-work-out lists. It's hard to believe, but the forecast calls for it to actually get above 30 degrees this weekend. I'm planning to run the next three days and hopefully start riding my bike to work as much as possible starting Monday. So far, tomorrow night I was thinking I'd stop at the Co-op on my way home from work and buy a nice, affordable bottle of wine. I'll run and then do a little, quick work on the cupboards and then either read or watch a movie and drink some of that bottle of wine. Saturday will be more work on the cupboards, recycling, a little shopping for hot water heaters, some biking gear and finally replacing those glasses that were broken when that stupid trashy girl punched Stinky a while back. I'm sure I'll go out on Saturday night for a bit...We'll see how tired I am and how long I last.

Now. I promised to do this writing prompt and I'm finally going to do it. Mrs. Big hairy Woman started this with the first paragraph, tagged the Alien and he tagged me. So, here are their first two paragraphs and my third one added on. I'm also tagging Eclectic Tara for the 4th one. Have at it:

The first paragraph:
"The sun was edging on the horizon, peaking through silver slits of clouds. She sat there watching, waiting for the end of days. On this day she had wished for a fresh new start. Oblivious to what was really happening to her. She couldn't shake that feeling of being watched. She didn't know who or why, but she felt it."

Alien's Paragraph:

She looked over her shoulder, but saw nobody there. The feeling stayed with her as she got up and start to walk back toward the house. A rustling in the bushes caught her attention as she nervously peered in, squinting to see who or what was there. A squirrel ran out and toward the large oak tree. She jumped, but knew that wasn't what made the noise. She looked in again and said in a low-pitched squeak, "Hello?"

My Paragraph:

There was no reply. She didn't really think she'd get one, but it was worth a shot. The only way to really know what was back there, was to suck it up and take a second, better look. This time, she carefully separated the branches to be able to see better in the back of the bushes. At first it just looked like a large rock, but then she saw the two thin arms, bent and reaching up to cover his head. It was a young boy, curled up in the fetal position, and trying to make himself disappear.

Okay. Have fun with that Tara and to all the rest of you, have a great weekend and let me know what you plan on doing with it.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Eliminate the Need for Water, Replace It With a Safe Shell

Here is the underbelly of a railroad bridge.

I have three things tonight. I'm just going to go ahead and number them to make it easier for all of us.

1.) The married women in my office never seem to get tired of asking me the same question over and over. I haven't figured out yet if it's because they're smug in the fact that they're happily married and can get laid any time they want; or if they're unhappily married and want to think that as a single girl, I'm hooking-up with hot young studs who are decidedly NOT sitting on my couch in their underwear watching sports the next day. Today it happened again and this is how it went down:

Co-worker: Soooo, how's your love life?

Me: Uhhhh...Imaginary? How's your love life? You're married, right?

Co-worker: Oh, yeah. But the honeymoon was over for us a long time ago. Now we just....(searching for the right words)

Me: (trying to help her out) ...Complacently take each other for granted?

Co-worker: That's it exactly...And it's so much better than being out there trying to date.

Me: Oh, I'm sure. Most things are.

2.) Tonight I finally got some blessed alone time. I was all restless and itchy and I've needed to live in my own little world for weeks now. Coadster was at her dad's and Stinky went to a friend's house right after track practice to do homework and eat dinner before her youth group. I can't even begin to tell you how great it is to just have a few hours to myself...And how much I can get done when I'm not answering a barrage of questions and taxiing kids all over town. I read, did laundry, oven baked some BBQ chicken, cleaned the kitchen and FINALLY got most of the upper cupboard boxes sanded. It's not one of my favorite jobs, but I'm glad to have it done.

I'm close to being half done with Ethan Canin's America America, and I have to say, I really like it. It was kind of a tough transition from The Road, but I think anything would be. McCarthy created such a strong mood, that it took me about a week to shake it off. (not that I really wanted to, but I did need to move on) America America so far is such a great throwback to a lot of the classic American fiction I read in high school. Right now it takes place in the early 70's and a working-class high school kid gets a job working for the family who pretty much created his town. He is quickly being brought into their world of privilege, power, politics and what I can only assume (and hope) will turn into corruption. I'd like to finish it by next week, because Coadster told me I had to read Capote's In Cold Blood next, and according to her, I will LOVE it.

3.) I was tagged by The Alien to do a writing prompt. I am so sorry. I totally spaced it off. I promise I'll post it tomorrow and tag the next person.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning's End

Here is a mural of The Bix 7 race in Davenport.

Hey, I'm going to post an update on my friend's son. Here it is:

Even more good news today. Early this morning L. went ahead and self extubated. The nurse said it was a first for her to have a patient remove his own tube. We then had to hurry and get his catheter out as he was pulling on that and it was the next to go. With the vent out he seemed much more comfortable and was even opening his eyes a bit. By the end of the day he was nodding his head to answer yes or no to questions (even once he mumbled out a "yeah"), was able to take some tylenol liquid by mouth and drink a tiny bit of juice. He covered his mouth with his hand when he coughed and the grand finale for the day was he waved good-bye to P.'s sister and to B. when she left. We are super, super encouraged by his progress. P. and I feel like we can finally breathe a little bit. We have been mostly at the hospital and in and out at home.

So, it all sounds pretty good. I have a feeling it will be like things were with Stinky, where they won't really know what the long term effects will be until they do some follow-up testing in the next month or so.

Okay, now I'm changing the subject. Remember how I kept talking about how I was going to try to do a triathlon and some road races this year? Well, I think I got some of that actually planned now. I've been emailing some friends and the girl crush about possible events we might want to register for and so far I've come up with this: The River Run in Iowa City in April (5k), a duathlon in Des Moines in May, The Dam to Dam race in Des Moines in June and my triathlon in Coralville in September. I still wouldn't mind finding a race in July and August, but even if I don't, this should be enough.

I have a bunch of people telling me I should run the Bix again. I'm not counting it out, but it wouldn't be that handy for me. I don't really have anyone to stay with in the Quad Cities anymore. I can stay with the girl crush and her hubby for the Des Moines races and that's great. I'll finally be able to see their house too.

The other issue is my daughters' schedules. I checked with them about the races I've committed to and we don't seem to have any conflicts right now. Coadster said she might even race in the 5 k's with me. She didn't seem to be particularly interested in either the duathlon or the triathlon.

As far as training is concerned? I'm actually in okay shape for this time of year after such a bad outdoor running Winter. I'd like for the weather to calm down and start warming up now, though. I would love to be able to start riding my bike to work on a regular basis and run outside at least 5 days a week again. Um, pretty please, Winter?

Monday, February 22, 2010

One Minute I Held the Key, Next the Walls Were Closed On Me

Here is a railroad bridge in Davenport, Ia.

Sooooo, I know I have this running theme on my blog. No, not the theme of running this time. But the theme of the problems I have with balance in my life. Like I've said, most of my favorite activities are fairly solitary ones - reading, writing, running, and riding my bike are generally things I like to do alone. Of course, as I also always say, if I spend too much time by myself, it can make me a little weird(er). The last few years, I've tried really hard to make myself go out and socialize. This last week, I oversocialized and spending too much time around people can mess with me way worse than not spending enough time with people. I guess what I'm trying to say, is that the goal this week is to slow it down and spend as much time as I can at home, working on my kitchen and reading books. Now that's a goal I can easily reach.

Okay. I have one more thing. Yesterday afternoon, my girls and I were in the parking lot of our local Hy-Vee grocery store. We were unloading our cart into our car when a guy parked directly behind us and said something that was a little hard to understand. Coadster was standing closest to his car and said, "Excuse me?"

"Ya'll are sexy. Are ya'll getting ready to pull out?" He repeated.

"Um. There are a bunch of other spaces around us and now there's a car behind you..." Coadster responded.

"He's being a creeper. Don't talk to him," I said to Coadster, quietly so he couldn't hear. And to prove my point the guy repeated,

"Seriously. All y'all are seeeeexxxxxyyyy."

We got in our car and quickly realized the guy wasn't going to move. He thought he could keep us from pulling out, by blocking our car. Thank god there wasn't a car in front of us, so I just pulled through and took off as quickly as I could, in the snow away from him. How weird and scary was that though? And who the hell trolls the grocery store parking lot looking for mother/daughter victims? Jaysus!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day After Day, It Reappears

Here is a picture of me trying to stalk in the background and a friend of mine pointing me out. Drat! Foiled again...

I'm writing this really early today, because this weekend has been so crazy and I have no idea what things will be like later this evening or how tired I'll be.

Okay. So, the weekend started out great. I got the girls fed and situated and actually both of them were so exhausted from the week that Stinky was asleep and Coadster was finishing her packing and fast on her way to hitting the hay, by 7 o'clock when I left.

I met up with my girlfriends at Martinis and it was soooo dead there. Luckily, we left and headed over to the Dublin shortly thereafter. My original plan was to go home by 10 and I was so close to doing that. I almost even had my coat on, but then I got pulled back into the fun and laughed so hard and talked so much shit, that it was 1 o'clock by the time I left. Woops!

Here is a picture of me being a dork, because there are only a million more pictures of me dorking-out on the internets.

Saturday was when things got crazy. I got a call from a friend of mine. She had some bad news and was traveling and didn't have the resources. She said she knew that I liked to help people and had a million contacts on my phone and through Facebook. Then she went on to tell me about a friend of ours from college who lives in Iowa City but who I rarely see. He was taking his son over to a friend's house and thought something seemed off about him. Luckily, our friend is an EMT and a nurse, so he knew enough to take his son straight to the ER. It was a good thing he did, because his boy had bleeding in the brain. Nobody knows why. They operated on him immediately, and the first surgery didn't work. My friend asked me to contact as many people as I could who could help and give support to my friend and his wife. So, I called as many people as I had numbers for. Then I went to Facebook to message anyone else. Of course, Facebook was being all wonky yesterday, so I couldn't get to certain people's profiles. I couldn't get to my friend John who lives in Boston's profile to tell him, but I was able to access his girlfriend Maire. I had called her brother, who just happens to be my favorite bartender, S. as well. So, she messaged me back and forth a little and we kept each other updated on what we knew. As of right now, they did a second surgery that seems to have finally stopped the bleeding. They have no idea what to expect. He was able to move his arms and legs again, so that was a good sign.

Sorry, It was harder than you'd think to get pics of the poofy hair and sequins. Those show choir kids are always on the move.

Finally, Stinky and I were ready to go to the Quad Cities to watch Coadster perform. Coadster called us right as we were leaving and asked us if we could go to Panchero's and pick-up a burrito for her. So, that took about a half hour longer than we planned for and then our Mapquest directions took us way out past where we should have gone and we had to drive back into town for another 20 minutes. What that meant, was that we they had already started and we couldn't get in the theater to watch Coadster's performance. They had TV's out, so we could watch them on that, and we did see Coadster nail her solo, so that was good. I just felt bad that we didn't get to see her live. They have one more gig in town for their Spring show and some of my girlfriends said they'd like to see her, so that should be fun.

By Staurday night I was exhausted. I didn't really want to go out, but G. told me she was a little disappointed that she didn't get to talk to me much on Friday night, so I thought I'd make an effort. G. met a friend for dinner beforehand and brought him down to the Dublin. I'd met him before because they've been friends for a long time. She sat him next to me at the bar and asked me to keep him company while she smoked a ciggie outside. It was fine. He's a nice enough guy, but we don't have a lot in common and he's not particularly funny or all that easy to talk to and G. disappeared for an hour. I'm not sure if she was trying to set me and her friend up or if she just got caught up with whatever she was doing. Finally, a bunch of people came down and I talked to the owner of the Dublin and his wife and sister-in-law and I was happy. Since G. never came back and I was feeling guilty about not really talking to her friend after the other people showed up, there really was no reason for me to be out. I turned into a pumpkin around 11 and headed home.

This weekend, another friend of mine's mother-in-law got really sick again. She has been in and out of remission for a long time, but things seem really bad right now. I texted my friend from the bar when I found out and asked her if there was anything I could do to help. She called me this morning to see if one of my girls could babysit while they went to the hospital. Stinky was more than happy to help. So, now she's babysitting and Coadster's at her dad's, and I think I'll take a nice long run before the snow starts flying....Again.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Friday Nights Have Been Lonely. Change Your Plans and Then Phone Me.

Every time I find a fan, I feel the need to try and do the Stevie Nicks Dance in the Stand Back video. You'd think one of these days I'd get tired of that lame-ass bit, but I never do...

So, after such a busy week, I'm facing an even busier weekend. Welcome to Spring. Now, if only it would feel like Spring outside, I'd be all set.

I'm actually going out for a bit on a Friday night tomorrow. I always say, if I don't have anything going on with my kids and someone asks me, I can be talked into it. A friend sent out an email to the girls in my main social circle. She thought it was high time we all met together and the plan is to go to a bar called Martinis at 5:30. Of course, it's almost impossible for me to go out that early, but I told them I'd catch up to them as soon as I get my kids fed and sent off to their own little events. I will definitely be home early, though.

Saturday is Coadster's last show choir competition in the Quad Cities. Stinky and I are going to watch them perform in the afternoon and zip right back home. Don't worry, I promise to get several pictures of poofy haired girls in ridiculous sequined dresses. That's how much I like you all...

Saturday night I'll probably head down to the Dublin for a bit. Really? How strange. I have no idea how long I'll last, since I won't have had much rest beforehand, but I'll give it the old college try.

As usual, I will be trying to work in house projects and running into all of this. It should be interesting to see if anything actually gets done.

What about all of you kids? Will you be stepping out when you normally don't or will you be watching girls with poofy hair and sequins stepping out on stage making with the jazz hands?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pick-Up the Pieces

Here is Coadster's choir.

Well, it's been a busy week so far. No doubt, this post will be a bit random...I'm sure that will surprise exactly none of you, coming from me.

Tonight Coadster had a choir concert. I didn't get my nice alone time, but that's just fine. Stinky didn't go to her youth group, because most of the kids in it are also in choir. She came with me to the show and we both made a huge point to make faces at Coadster whenever she entered the auditorium. It was awesome.

I finished The Road last night and started reading Ethan Canin's America America. I've only read a short story of his, but he's a local author and Coadster used to love a movie called The Emperor's Club, based on one of his short stories when she was younger. So far, it has a bit of Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy feel to it and I remember really liking that book when I read it in high school. As always, I'll let you know what I think about it once I finish it.

Before her concert, I finally worked up the guts to cut into the gross, stained carpet in Coadster's room to see what was under it. Thankfully, I found hardwood floors. So, now I can add another project to the list, and tear it all the way up and get the floors underneath it cleaned. When my brother ripped up the carpet in his living room, he found a spot in the middle of the hardwood floors, where someone had replaced it with plywood. Obviously, I'm hoping I don't find any unwanted surprises like that in this bedroom.

Okay, I'm beat and so I'm going to hit the hay. Tomorrow, I'll only work until one o'clock, so I can get Stinky a physical. I went to get my doctor to sign off on a physical for Stinky to be in track, and was informed that she hadn't had one since August 2008. I could have sworn she had one last February when Coadster had hers. Oops! I guess it's just another reason for me to start expecting that mom of the year award any day now.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It Comes to Us All. It's As Soft As Your Pillow

By the time most of you read this, it will be hump day. So, I thought this pic would be appropriate.

Hey, kids. I thought I'd do a little writing exercise tonight. This time I'm writing about giving plasma. Sounds neat-o, huh? I'm sure you know the drill by now. I just wrote this, so I know it needs a lot of work and feel free to point out anything that looks all janky to you:

You are now a commodity. You are questioned, measured, poked, and tested to make sure you will be good enough. Once you pass inspection, you are led to a room full of others like you lying in beds, hooked up to bags, which are in turn, hooked up to machines. You are instructed of everything you can and can't and some things you must do. You can bring a laptop (they offer free wifi), you can listen to an iPod and text or anything else you can handle one-handed. You can't eat or drink, but you must continually pump your hand while the product is being taken out of you. You also must stop pumping your hand once the product is skimmed of its plasma and whatever's left gets pumped back into you.

Even before you realize the girl next to you is droning on and on to someone on the other end of her cell phone, you hear one horrible song from whatever music stream they have going and quickly plug yourself into your iPod and open up your book. Some guy in a lab coat is preparing to start the IV. You say, "I have great veins, but they're really rolly, so you have to hold them down," to help you both out, and then you quickly look the other way. You don't like to watch the needle go in.

The iPod isn't completely drowning out the droning girl next to you, so you turn your ear to rest on the pillow to see if that helps. Doing this causes you to hear the sound of your own pulse. It's louder than you're used to. It keeps time to your music and counts down the seconds. Thump, thump. You pump your hand to it and almost forget to stop when the cycle is over. Your arm starts to feel sore and stiff and you wonder if that's how it's supposed to feel. You figure that the blood wouldn't pump right if there was something wrong, so you don't say anything. There is a shift change with those wearing the lab coats before you are done.

The new girl says they have all they need from you and starts to replace your fluids. You have done this once before, so you are prepared for the sensation. The saline solution they replenish you with is colder than your body temperature, and you cool down from the inside. A blanket or coat can't help warm you up and you start to shiver violently. Your arm is still sore and now you realize that it is much larger than it should be. You mention it to the girl who seems perplexed that they were able to still get the fluid they needed, since it appears that the needle pierced all the way through. It means that some of what your heart pumped out was wasted and seeped out into your body leaving you bruised and sore and swollen.

The new girl tapes an icepack hard to the inside of your arm and you think how strange it was to be totally unaware of what was going on inside your own body. It reminded you of when your daughter was younger and got so sick. You sat in your living room with her head in your lap gently dabbing her face with a cool cloth. You knew she wasn't well but you had no idea the battle that was going on inside her between her antibodies and the bacteria that had invaded her. You carelessly watched a movie while the bacteria launched a surprise attack and fought their way into her spinal chord fluid.

You leave the plasma center favoring your unbending left arm wondering what kind of internal wars everyone else around you might be waging.

Monday, February 15, 2010

It's Something I Said, Or Someone I Know

Here's how it's hangin' in Iowa right now. Are those electrical boxes covered in ice? I'm sure that's safe.

I will try to make this quick. My friend J. asked me to meet him out for coffee (or tea, in my case) this evening. He is recently engaged, and I hadn't seen him for a while, so it was good to catch-up. He seems really happy. He used to have a crush on me for years. At first, he was 21 years old and in college and I was 31 and newly divorced with a 3 year old and a five year old and we were at such different places in our lives. He's a physically attractive guy, but we never quite meshed in other ways (at least as far as I was concerned). We worked hard at becoming friends, and have had some rough spots. I've tried really hard not to lead him on in any way shape or form, but as we all know, everyone wants what they want.

So, anyway... We took a break from our friendship for a year and a half or so and in that time, he was finally able to meet someone else who he seems to mesh really well with. I'm very happy for him and it will make our friendship so much easier now that we both want the same thing. He promised to bring his girly down to the Dublin to meet me in the next couple of weeks during what my friend Sara likes to call my "office hours" on Saturday night. I'm so excited to get to know her.

On another relationship front, I stopped by a friend's house for a minute on my way home from the coffee shop. While I was there, I asked her if she and her boyfriend did anything special for Valentine's Day. She responded, "Well, I DIDN'T push him down the stairs...." Ain't love grand? Maybe it's just safer being single.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

She Says, We've Got to Hold On to What We Got

My mom when she was a little girl.

Soooo, I'm going to wish anyone who celebrates it, a happy Valentine's Day. Currently, it's a holiday that doesn't really apply to me, so I'll just celebrate the fact that it would have been my mom's 78th birthday. I still can't imagine her old. All I can do is feel lucky that I had her the 10 years I got. She is definitely responsible for my love of literature, my appreciation of music and the outdoors. All of those things that pretty much saved me after she died.

This weekend was very long, but in a good way. Friday off was amazing. I got some stuff done, but most importantly, I got to hang out with the girls for at least a few hours without having to run somewhere or do chores or homework. Originally, we were going to eat at the Bluebird Diner, but it was packed when we got there, and Stinky wanted to make it to a basketball game at 7. So, instead we got take-out sushi at Oyama and Coadster and I watched The Hangover. It actually turned out better than sitting in a busy restaurant.

There was a lot of errand running on Saturday. I took all my recycling in, while Stinky went job hunting. She stopped in at 126 to see if they needed a hostess. My friend Amo was working and was really happy that Stinky wanted to work there. Amo called over the current manager, who said she remembered her from when she was little and I used to pull the girls around in a little red wagon. I'm sure my girls are so tired of hearing that story. But when they were little, it was so much easier to put them in a wagon where they could face each other and wasn't quite so big and unwieldy as a double stroller. Apparently, people found the image of them in the wagon quite charming.

Me covering my face. One of my favorite pics of myself.

Just so you know, you might not want to start reading The Road right before you go out, because you could get so engrossed that you won't want to leave your house. I did end up going out, and I was so glad I did. I guess I was in the mood to get really silly, and that's exactly what I did. We played a lot of goofy music on the juke box and danced around. One of our very flamboyantly gay male friends came down and was WAY over the top.

My friend finally brought her new guy down for us to meet and he seemed really cool. Poor guy. Us girls really put him through the wringer. At one point he asked me if I was the friend that stalked him on Facebook, and both G. and I said at the same time, "We both did."

As usual, right around midnight, I decided it was time to go home, but right before I did, someone said something that was a song lyric, and I started singing that song. Everyone around us started singing it too and suddenly, all kinds of people we didn't know and most of the bar was belting out, "Livin' On a Prayer". It was hilarious. Of course, I knew the night couldn't get any better so I took off.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Won't You Take a Walk Outside?

Here is a building by my office.

So, I have weird days at work sometimes - especially in the afternoon. I had one of them today. My job can be a bit tedious, and that plus the beige cubicle walls can close in on me making feel a little bored and isolated and restless. Luckily, it's pretty easy to wash the scum of the office off of me by walking home.

I ran after work and got really hopeful about the approach of Spring. It wasn't completely dark by the time I made it home from my run. FINALLY. It's still too cold to smell or feel like Spring yet, but the longer days will definitely help improve my mood.

Speaking of something that will put me in a better mood...I'm supposed to get my federal tax return back tomorrow. I'm hoping that it's all electronic and the fact that most of the federal offices were shut down for 4 days won't adversely affect me. I'm also taking my 3rd furlough day tomorrow. So, if things go the way I want them too, I'll have both time AND money for once. That's a combination I could get used to. Unfortunately, it will be very short lived.

The plan is for me to go running in the morning and do some work in the kitchen and measure some stuff. Then, since both the girls have their last hour at school free, I'm going to pick them up and we'll probably head to the mall (because that's what happens when you have teenagers). I'm going to price fridges and hot water heaters (party!) and then we'll go see a movie and then go to the Bluebird Diner to eat. My girls love it there and I know the guys who own it, so I feel good about supporting their business.

So, how is your weekend shaping up? Will you have money or time or both or neither?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

All the Things I Care About (Are Packed Into One Punch)

I'm out of recent pics, so I'm recycling this one from a couple of years ago.

Wednesday's are becoming nice reprieve nights for me. Coadster goes to her dad's and Stinky is gone most of the night at rec league basketball games and then to her youth group. There was a time, before I was so house poor, that I would meet a group of friends at different restaurants around town for Supper Club on Wednesdays, but I haven't done that for many, many months.

Lately, I'm probably most happy spending Wednesdays by myself, anyway. That might change if the weather ever gets better and I tire of hibernating. But right now, my solitary evenings are exactly what I need in the middle of the week. It feels weird to have even a few hours to do with whatever I want. Yes, I did some chores and worked for a bit on the kitchen, but I also want to make sure I give myself time to read and listen to music if I can. I've got about a hundred pages left in The Sun Also Rises. It's been a quick read and such great escapism. I can't imagine a life where people spend most of their days and nights drinking and socializing. I couldn't do that every day without it making me really, really unhappy, but it sure is fun to read about. It's funny how I don't remember that they drank so much when I read it in high school. And as much of a drunken misogynist as he was reported to be, Hemingway sure could write the hell out of a novel.

Of course, as soon as I finish it, I'm moving on to Cormac McCarthy's The Road. The only book I've read of his was Blood Meridian and if The Road is anything like that, it will be about the opposite of The Sun Also Rises. I'm sure I'll be ready for it after a hundred more pages of frivolity.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

It's Good to Hear Your Voice, You Know It's Been So Long

Here is a snowy gate.

Please allow me to be your cautionary tale...Again. So, yeah. You may not want to do a throw down on Winter, because Winter doesn't give a shit if you're tired of it. It will just laugh at you and then throw snow in your face, pelt you with ice and freeze you out, making it really, really difficult to do any outdoor triathlon training. I hope you all can learn from my mistake and dissuade yourself from doing any seasonal trash talking. Winter is one bad-ass mutha f*@ka and should not be messed with. Mea culpa, mea culpa. Uncle, uncle. Amen.

Because I work on a college campus, I like to keep an eye and ear open, (and apparently, I don't have to open those ears very much) just to do a little upper middle class, overly entitled young people sociological studying. Kids today....I saw a girl walking around downtown during a Winter storm in shorty shorts, a long sleeve t-shirt and Uggs. Wha?! Is there some way you can get your daddy to buy your way out of frost bite that I don't know about?

Later during the big scary rush of classes getting out, another girl was talking very loudly on her cell phone. And this is what me and about a hundred other people heard her say. "....So, of course we had sex. And then I didn't get home until like 5:15..." Um, excuse me, ma'am. You do know you're out in public and we can all hear you, right? It's still not quite as good as when that other woman on the Pentacrest, screamed into her phone, "How you gonna try and tell me you're lonely when you're calling me from your wife's house?" But it's going to be hard to top that one.

Monday, February 08, 2010

It's Hard Out Here for a Dumb-Ass

This is what one of the plasma people did to my arm. This was taken over a week later and I normally don't bruise very easily. Yowza!

So, this how sad it is to be me: Today I've been obsessing over home improvement websites, as usual. I found some really great instructions on the best way to paint my cupboards. I also saw a glass tile back splash installation how-to article and it seemed pretty inexpensive and simple. (I'm sure I might sing a different song when I actually try to do it myself) Anyway, by the time I got off work, I was all different kinds of excited to get going on my kitchen. On my lunch break, I had made a list of the few things I still needed to get to finish my cupboards. The main thing being non-shrinking wood putty. Hmmmm.

So, Stinky and I braved the slippery, snowy roads and made it to Menards. We found some really pretty alternating light and cobalt blue sheets of glass tile that will look amazing in my kitchen (if I don't fuck it up) and got some more sand paper and sand sponges and other stuff. Then we headed home. At some point, my car hit a patch of ice and we spun-out a little. For someone who's first instinct is always to spaz, I remained pretty calm. Luckily, there was no one behind us. Stinky's face went white and I righted the car and drove on, albeit much more slowly than before. Once I got home and made dinner, I suddenly realized I forgot the putty. So, I braved the elements for nothing. Derrrrr.

And now for something completely different....Coadster made it into the chorus of the school musical. They're doing The Wizard of Oz this year. She's never auditioned before because she normally does two sports in the Spring (soccer and track) and has never had time. Since her soccer coach left, and she's training to run a half-marathon on her own and it's her last year in high school, she figured it might be fun to do something different. So, she auditioned and got cast. Yea Coadster!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Or If I Ever Need a Reason to Smile

Me, G and K. I think K.'s t-shirt has the perfect anti-Valentine's Day sentiment.

My, but the weekend goes by quickly, doesn't it? It did actually turn out to be pretty lovely. Saturday I got a lot of cleaning and kitchen prepping done. I also had a really great run. It was one of those nice, slow ones, where I just got way into my head and felt like I could run forever. It's been a while since I've felt like that. It's hard in the Winter to just relax and run and not worry about falling on the ice or how cold my feet or hands are.

B. and his friend from high school and D. and G. stalking in the background. My friend Jen sent me a FB message that was a copied entry from the Urban Dictionary. Apparently, that kind of stalking is called a photobomb.

The girls I was supposed to have dinner with on Saturday night, were unable to make it, so I texted K. to see if she wanted to go on a little girl dinner date. She was into it. So, we ate greasy food at the Hilltop which is right by where K. lives and then picked G. up on our way downtown.

The Dublin was really fun at first. Then many of my friends left me to go to a show. I couldn't go, because I told Eggo that I would give her and her husband a ride home and I wanted to be available for that. Of course, my friend B. left this guy he went to high school with alone and so I was stuck talking to him for a while. He was a nice guy...Just a little odd. He and his baby mama aren't married, which is pretty common and not that big of a deal, but they're together as a couple and don't even live in the same house. I know everyone is different and maybe that works for them, but he says his daughters are 3 and 5 and live at his girlfriend's house and he visits them there. I can't imagine not wanting to live with my family. That was one of the hardest things about getting divorced for me - I only got to see my girls part-time. Like my friend Eggo said when we talked about it on the way home, it's like they're preparing for an imminent divorce.

Today I spent more time on my kitchen. I think the reason it's taking me so long, is because we use that room so much. So, it's really hard to have it torn apart and I also feel like I have to wash the dishes and stuff before I work on the cupboards and it seems like dirty dishes are a chronic condition in a house with two teenagers. Sigh. I am chipping away at it and getting further along...Just not as quickly as I'd like.

I did a cameo at a Superbowl party tonight. It was with all my rocker guy friends who I used to watch Steelers games with. Because I was so busy obtaining a house and then I was so house poor after having obtained said house, I only made it to one game this season. So, I felt like I should at least show up for a bit. K. was there with her guy and we all had a good time and there was tons of food and most importantly, the Saints won. Wooo hooo!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

That's Nobody's Business but the Turks

Here is an outdoor stove and a barn that was converted into a house. I'm a little excited at all the outdoor stoves and fire pits I see around my neighborhood. I'm hoping it means a lot of drinking in front of flames within stumbling distance of my house once it gets warm enough.

This week was so much better than last. I'm all ready to slide into the weekend, without a big burning ball of stress in my belly. Nice. I also don't have as many projects hanging over my head this weekend either. I'm sure I'll eternally have cleaning and organizing projects, and I'm still working on the cupboards, but I've been chipping away at stuff, so it doesn't seem quite as daunting.

Stinky in her signature pose and her friend.

If I'm lucky, my days should be full of running and house projects. Stinky is babysitting both nights for my friend Eggo. Her husband's birthday is Saturday, so they plan on celebrating both nights of the weekend. I say, good for them...And not just because Stinky owes me money. Coadster might go see that Dear John movie, along with every other high school girl in town tomorrow night. She has a show choir competition on Saturday, so she won't stay out late. Unless something better presents itself, I'll probably stay home tomorrow night and maybe drink a beer or read or watch a movie or watch that house hunters show on the House and Garden network that I'm a little obsessed with lately.

Saturday night the plan is to drop Stinky off at Eggo's and then pick up some of my girly friends to go out for dinner and drinks. I'll stay out as late as Eggo and her hubby do, and drive them home and pick Stinky up at the same time. If nothing happens to throw a wrench in my plans, (and that's always a big if) this weekend could actually be quite lovely.

How about you all? Feel free to tell me all about your lovely weekend plans in the comments.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

But February Made Me Shiver

Well, what do you know? Another snowy pic for you all on the anniversary of when Iowa killed Buddy Holly.

I'll just warn you right now, I've had the night to myself and I spent it reading and listening to music, so I'm going to be annoyingly reflective and introspective. Sorry. I finally finished reading the book, Reading Lolita in Tehran. If you haven't read it, it's about a private class a woman teaches in the 80's and 90's in Iran. Each chapter is the study of a different author and how the women in the class use literature to cope with life under such a sexist and oppressive government.

I loved the book, but it was also hard for me to read sometimes. It took me straight back to high school. As I've said before, I'm a runner and hider. When I was in high school and my life was so horrible, I created an extensive inner-world, full of books and music. It was the only place I could go to escape all the oppression of my home life. I feel like books saved my life at that time, or at least my sanity...Well, what there was to save, anyway. The women in the novel needed that parallel universe of literature to give them hope of a world that wasn't so stifling. As the narrator says, "A novel is not an allegory....It is the sensual experience of another world."

When I was under 18 and had no control over my real life, my internal world helped me to cope with my situation. Of course, the same thing that helped me when I was younger, hurt me as an adult. When I was in an abusive marriage, I found myself reverting back to my old habits of running and hiding into my inner-life. It was a victim's response where I was sleepwalking through a bad situation, instead of fixing it. Because of my girls, I snapped out of that and fixed the situation by leaving. Now, I still go to that world, but it's not because I'm afraid to face my life anymore. It's more like a vacation, where I'm always glad I visited, but I'm even happier to get home. One of my favorite quotes from the book on the Gatsby chapter says: "His reveries for a while 'provided an outlet for his imagination; they were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on fairy's wings'"

I'm starting to reread Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises next. It should be the perfect follow-up to this, since the last time I read it I was in high school. It will be interesting to see what different things I focus on when I read it this time.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I Am Not Worried, I Am Not Overly Concerned

Here was part of my walk to work today.

Hey, if you ever want to read a bunch of ridiculous texts, here's what you do: Just be an idiot and leave your phone at work overnight and then post a Facebook status update alerting people to that fact, so they don't worry if they don't hear back from you. Next thing you know, you're entering your cubicle at 8 in the morning to a phone full of silliness. Actually, not a bad way to start your day. One of my favorites? "A kitten will die every hour until you text me back...Or until I run out of kittens." No pressure, I'm sure.

Here are my snow covered lilac bushes. I can't until they're flower covered lilac bushes.

Well, kids. It's official. I'm sick of Winter. I've decided to give it one more week, before I start defying it. Starting next Monday, I'm going to stop walking on eggshells around Winter and begin riding my bike to work again and running outside on a more regular basis. I bet I was lucky if I ran 20 miles every week for the last month. Yeah. Bad.

So, it's back to triathlon training again for me. I'm also planning on entering some road races this Spring and Summer. I stayed away from them after I ran The Bix when I was 29 and my legs felt so shredded. I just got scared that I would injure myself and not be able to run again. A friend of mine helped me to see that it was kind of flawed thinking. So, I ran with Coadster in a race this Fall and remembered how much I loved it. I do like having something to train for, I was surprised at how much I missed competing and as that friend pointed out, I run much differently and more varied routes when I'm training too. I'm very thankful for that little lesson in getting over my fears. So, with that in mind, I'm going to try a couple of other things that I've been a little afraid of. My friend M. said she would teach me how to kayak when she comes back to town the next time to visit, and G. and I have been kicking around the idea of riding the last couple of days of RAGBRAI this Summer. That might take some planning, but I think we can manage to make it happen. Now, all I need is warm weather...

Monday, February 01, 2010

It's Like the Party Neva Ends

Here are some clothes pins in your face.

Well, kids. Consider my taxes officially D-O-N-E. Hurray! I went to H and R Block and had them do them for me for the first time. I usually just do them myself on-line, but with the 1st Time Home Buyer Tax Credit thingy, I wanted to make sure I did it right. So, we amended last year's return to get that back a little sooner. The other way to do it, would be to file my taxes for this year on-line, get that return and then amend that return. You can't do the home buyer thing on-line, because I guess people were trying to cheat and now they're watching things more closely. It was pretty pricey paying them to do it, but it was so much faster and easier and if anything goes wrong, they're accountable. Sounds worth the extra bank to me.

If all goes well, I should get my return back by the middle of the month. Which is good, because I'll realistically need to buy a fridge and a hot water heater sooner rather than later. My fridge is making the most interesting noises and my heater is 18 years old. The inspector guy said his died right at 18 years. Those are two things I'd like to be proactive with. I'm sure it would be great fun to wake up to cold, cold showers and a mess of water on my laundry room floor, or realize that a week's worth of groceries has been sitting in a warm box for a day...Or not

I know I like to talk about aging, because I guess I'm in the middle of that process, and it's fascinating to me. There are so many great things about it, as far as I'm concerned. Sure there's the physical downturns I've been taking since my twenties, but those are really balanced out by how much happier and more self-possessed I feel. Don't get me wrong, I've still got a mess of demons chasing me, we're just better acquainted now and I'm learning how to deal with them. I really believe that if you are willing to look at yourself and figure out what bothers you about yourself (not what bothers other people. Fuck them. They don't have to live in your head all day) and work on fixing it, aging isn't half as scary.

That having been said, I realized today how different I've become about certain things as I've gotten older. Back in the day, I would just procrastinate and do my taxes on the last day and have them hanging over my head for months. Now, I've realized that I don't like that feeling of dread at having to do something. It's not that I don't ever procrastinate, but I rarely let it get to the point of stress and drama in my head like I used to. Now, just 51,206 other things that annoy me about myself left to work on in my life...