31 March 2006

Step, step, jump, step

I went to some frightfully silly gathering the other night -- there were various beautiful people all in a room together, trying to help the rest of us be more like them, mostly by way of a ten-minute chair massage and a little extra hair product and eye gel, I believe. It mostly gave me hives, so I left after a few minutes, having ascertained that the only non-alcoholic beverages they were peddling there were measly little thimblefuls of Pellegrino. Thimblefuls!

Of course there is nothing wrong with Pellegrino, but the fact that I had to flex all my bullying skills in order to convince the faux bartender to serve me anything other than wine made me so irritable and fussy that I downed my little one-ounce shot of water all at once and was unsurprisingly still parched as all hell. I would have bellied up for another half-jigger, but my bartender-bullying muscles were feeling all sore from the first go-round, and the bartender looked a little sore, too, so I desisted and removed myself from the situation.

I am getting entirely off-topic now, but the thing is that I had had a very bad sandwich (was it the olives? the feta? no one knows) for lunch that day, with the result that I was zipping in and out of the ladies' room all afternoon at work and my face was remarked upon as being a delicate shade of green for a couple of hours there. The details of my gastro-intestinal travails aside, suffice it to say that by 5:30 pm I was more than a little dehydrated. I really, really needed that water, ma brutha.

Well, so anyway it was brutal. It appeared to be a benefit for an organization of which I am already a member, so I felt a bit like the choir being preached to, if you know what I mean. People would come up to me and try to sell me something and I kind of smiled wanly and fished around uneasily for my membership card, which I now saw as a Get-Out-of-Spa-Free pass.

And that whole magical make-over malarkey just makes me very twitchy and possibly I will start chanting slogans about rampant consumerism and arbitrary standards of beauty and conspiring in one's own oppression and that is just balls of fun for no one, and would only make people secretly muse that what I really need is a good, hard, swedish massage, and that maybe I just hadn't met the right pedicurist yet.

And whoa, to be honest, the idea of someone filing away at my toenails really does makes me turn slightly green. I dearly love painting my toenails garish shades of red and purple, sometimes with sparkles, and especially as a semi-ritualistic harbinger of spring, but nail files in combination with finger- and toenails have the same effect on me as nails on a chalkboard do for everybody else. In fact, now I think of it, I used to even hate it when I had an itch on my leg and I had to scratch through my jeans to get at it. I would always rub my jeans with the palm of my hand, to soothe and calm the denim, after scratching it up like that.

So yeah. Slightly more OCD than even I had originally thought. I haven't even mentioned the crushing importance of symmetry to me, and how I used to thrum my fingers (you, know, you're impatient, you thrum your fingers on the desk, from pinky to pointer finger over and over to indicate your impatience? Thrum. Everyone say it with me, "thrum") but I would have to do it symmetrically: first the pinky, then the pointer finger, then ring finger, then thumb, then middle, then all together, twice, to equalize it out. Symmetrically.


Oh, right, like you have no odd habits. Ha, I say unto you. Ha ha.

The single most empowering thing I have discovered in my advanced years of thirty-several is that we are all of us exceedingly messed up. In so many ways. Those who seem not to be are just really good actors. So relax, everyone else is just as messed up as you, probably more so, and if your major worry is making sure all the fine point pens in your desk drawer are all facing the same direction (nothing wrong with that!) you are doing OK.

28 March 2006

25 March 2006

I do not think they sing for me

The poor little house next door. All it wants is a nice relationship, someone to settle down with and celebrate the passing of the years. I've seen them come and I've seen them go, and she gives her heart to them all. And what is the first thing each and every one of them does to her?

They ask her to change.

The retired couple from Haverhill has been down these last couple of months on weekends, ever since they took down the For Sale sign and Mr and Mrs Crackhead finally vacated the premises along with Crackhead Junior. That family never had to worry about Halloween costumes, I tell you. Scary like Richard Scarry.

The new owners have been messing about in the yard most Saturdays, doing reassuring little bits of yardwork. When I met them they told me all about how they are going to replace the rotted out fence that bounds our two properties, to which I said "thank you." The squirrels, who by now have a thriving, upscale coop in the rotted out boards of this fence, they may have a less favorable reaction.

Then they hired some nice young contracters to do some interior decorating, and they seem to be very dedicated workers, as their pick up trucks are often parked in front of the unoccupied house most of the night on weeknights. They also like to listen to music as they work. And be visited by lots of pretty girls. Those worker people are never around when the couple from Haverhill come down for the weekend, though. I wonder why not.

Now they seem to be getting serious, because they have called in the mini backhoe. Mini backhoes usually mean a new septic system is going in, but Les Crackheadistes did that two years ago, so it can't be that. They're doing something around the back of the house, which unfortunately means they have driven the backhoe back and forth along the side of the house more than once, right through all the nice little forsythias.

Well, what can you do.

But have I told you about my bulbs yet?

Last fall I planted about a hundred bulbs of various spring flowers: tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinth, crocus, and one more, I can't remember. Well, get this, true story -- this gardening stuff actually works!

Ella's Narcissi

La la la. I made flowers grow. la la.

20 March 2006


I have large feet. Officially they are US size nines, UK size 40-ish. Add to that the high arches and unladylike width of my feet, and let's just say I am solidly rooted. Well grounded. Earth-bound.

The other thing that needs to be established is that I grew up poor. My parents' divorce when I was 8 came at a bad time for us financially: Mom was changing careers, so she was in school full-time with no income; Dad wasn't so hip to paying alimony at first, and didn't exactly have deep pockets to begin with; the house needed a new roof; I needed braces; and so on.

To make matters worse, it was 1979. Even if we had had the money for nice clothes, nice clothes had been pretty much outlawed some years before. So I was stuck wearing hand-me-downs from the snotty family across the street -- that's right, I actually had to show up at the bus stop we shared with those kids wearing their old ratty clothes. Nice. We are so totally not scarred by that experience, but thanks for asking anyway, that was sweet of you.

In sixth grade all I had for school clothes were three different pairs of plaid bell bottom jeans (this was 1982 now, try to keep up) and a bunch of old KISS t-shirts that I totally should have held on to. Everyone else in my grade had already moved well on to the preppy look; you were pretty much covered with some levis, a couple of pink and blue oxfords, some webby belts with anchors or whales on them, and topsiders. That's right, the whole freaking school was dressed like Judge Smails.

Except for me, specializing in keepin' the 70s alive.

So even though I am all grownzed up now and can buy snappy clothes for myself, I have some issues. One of them involves feeling extreme guilt over the price of shoes. There's still a bitter little sixth grader inside me who knows that all she's going to get this year is another pair of sensible hush puppy lace-ups in brown that are supposed to last the whole goddamn school year.

When we need to wear nice black flats to the middle school concert, we will run out to Fayva Discount Shoes an hour before curtain time and pray they have our size. Oh, and we will make an extra stop at CVS for some black opaque tights because Mom doesn't think we are old enough for nylons yet and we don't normally sport fashionable legwear under our plaid bell bottoms, do we?

I am also somewhat self-conscious of my large feet, because I always feel somewhat Amazonian to begin with, and my feet just kind of seal the deal. So even when I can justify the expense of nice shoes, I tend to believe -- stubbornly, and without thorough investigation -- that they only make pretty shoes for pretty pretty little girls, not big old farmhands like me.

So when adorable Nita drove out this morning to give -- GIVE!!! -- me about 30 pairs of her beautiful shoes to me -- IN MY SIZE!!! -- I was more than amazed and grateful. I was -- am -- blown away. I am honestly having a very hard time processing how many pretty pairs of shoes I now own.

Not only do some of them say tantalizing words on them like "Ferragamo" and "Nine West." Not only are many of them recent fashions, and snappy, marvelous, kickass work shoes. Loads and loads of them are just for fun shoes.

You have no idea.

For what earthly reason could I possibly need a pair of Italian bowling shoes?

Who cares!

Who needs a pair of furry, zebra-striped mules?

I do!

Will I ever have an urgent need for a pair of polkadotted slides?

I'm covered!

And those gold lame ballet slippers?

Honey, I am not taking those mutherfuckers off all night.

Tonight, this is what beauty, what friendship, what thirty or so delayed birthday, Christmas, and back-to-School presents looks like:


18 March 2006

'til things are brighter

I have decided that it is time to buy my ass some motherfecking clothes. I am honest enough with myself to know that I am not embarking on some great odyssey to make my wardrobe anew -- today's little jaunt is more than likely to yield nothing but a few more pairs of black pants, a couple more black hoodies, and maybe a couple of v-neck t-shirts. Probably black.

I will, of course, be surrounded by racks and racks of clothes whose colors shout spring! dammit! but I do not like pastels! dammit! so I will continue to buy black no matter what the calendar says.

I was at a thing yesterday morning -- a great enormous awards ceremony for local worthy folks, and what with half the room wearing red, to signify their undying allegiance to Team Red Cross, and the other half wearing green to signify their intention to get blistering drunk later in the day, I was just about the only person there who didn't resemble a walking talking christmas decoration.

What is it with people wearing holiday-themed colors and costumes? The ladies who wear cardigans with embroidered turkeys in November, or pumpkin earrings in October? Or even occupation-themed clothing, like that lady I saw last week wearing a teacher-themed sweater, with some ABCs and an apple and a paint brush and shit on it. What the hell?

I've always theorized that most of the people who wear such themed garb are in fact teachers, who are mired in a work life of theme groupings, block scheduling, and yearly ritual that go beyond even my requirements for annual cyclic ritual.

I realize that we all wear uniforms of one sort or another, that we have a deep-seated need to advertise our social class, sexual availability, and political leanings in our dress. To a certain extent we are supposed to become more subtle about it as we grow older, but are the ladies who lunch in Coldwater-Creek-sanctioned ensembles really being any less subtle than the swarms of goth teens who still roam the countryside in their home dye jobs, over-wide trousers, and black eyeliner?

I tend toward the all black ensemble because first of all it is easy to match. Not all shades of black match, but many do. Also, I honestly feel like I lose a little dignity with each layer of a brighter shade I put on. A lovely deep crimson v-neck t-shirt under a black hoodie and over some flowy black pants is just about the right amount of color. Any more than that I feel like I am in An Outfit. I Hate Outfits.

The unremitting blackness of my wardrobe doesn't so much announce my dedication to the downtrodden man as it does my abhorrence for doing laundry. I don't have laundry machines in my house, sadly, and laundromats can blow me. And what they say about black shirts, they never get dirty, the longer you wear them, the blacker they get, is true. You just have to brush the cat hairs off once in a while.

Now that I have started my day off by likening myself unto Johnny Cash, though, I am going to have to fight extra hard not to buy those black cowboy boots I've got my eye on. I have to hold off on that particular purchase because my darling nita is about to send me a whole bunch of shoes and boots that will no doubt jolt my current wardrobe out of its funereal funk, as I gather she favors sparkly tiaras and gold lame flats. This is going to rule.

14 March 2006


You know, sometimes I think that I just don't show the internet just how retarded I am quite often enough. To take the tiniest of steps in rectifying that situation, allow me to show you what I just bought online:


Observant readers already know that one of my most singluar pleasures is to curl up with a few modest piles of thai food and watch me some Sherlock Holmes. It's one of the only things I watch on TV that isn't true. Most of the TV I watch is documentary, sports, or some sort of dopey travel show -- no sitcoms, or series of any kind, unless it's on PBS.

But I am a moron for all the Mystery! shows, including the Adam Dalgliesh series, the Inspector Lynley series, and pretty much anything they want to slap up there after the Gorey introduction animation. Geek.

So when I saw this pendant on Etsy I had to consume it immediately (narm, narm, narm). In a feeble effort to distract myself from my geekdom, I found and purchased two other pendants with somewhat more artistic value, less of the I-stalk-dead-British-actors vibe.

The first one I fell in love with was this:

bird pendant

Blurry, I know. But I just can't be bothered right now.

Then I saw this beauty:

Tree pendant

...and immediately felt compelled to unload some more cash...

...which apparently endeared me so much to the seller that she threw this one in for free:

birds pendant

So I guess I have my neck-related accessories pretty much covered for the time being. How very nice for me.

What else makes me retarded? Well, how about that time today that I was driving around during my lunch hour, rocking out as usual in my car, and happened to make eye contact with a cop alongside me JUST as I was completing a most excellent air drum flourish of metal proportions.

Drive on, I said to myself.

And so I did.

12 March 2006


Yesterday was such a full day! By ten a.m. I had done the dishes and the laundry, then paid some bills, mailed my awesome mix tape to my best friend, and taken a walk. What has happened to me? I don't know me anymore.

Then I went and met a bloggy friend for lunch at the Home of the Greatest Sandwiches in Town, and then we went yarn shopping. I bought four skeins of this yarn in celedon, and have started to make this. It was my first time meeting Marina, and let me tell you she is delightful. And makes a damn fine necklace. She's a beader. I am going to give her some of the sock yarn that giveth me an headache; do you suppose this consititutes valid cause to hope for a necklace? We shall see. I am shameless that way.

Then I had a visit with my father, who filled me in on the latest gossip about the goings-on at this venerable institution, which I soaked up like a sponge. I dished the dirt about a few venerable institutions myself, we drank tea, all was right in the world.

I met our new next door neighbors -- crackhead neighbor has officially departed, along with his bound-to-be-a-crackhead son. The new couple next door seem like very nice, intelligent, respectable people. They will use it as a retirement home, which suits me just fine. They are replacing the rotted, ugly fence that separates our properties, and are already undoing some of the more egregious landscaping errors the previous owner made. So, nice. Also, they hate the house across the street, and are equally outraged that it is only to be used two weekends a year. Honestly. There ought to be a law.

After being social with these two for a while, I knitted for a while, and rested my bones in anticipation of going out to see a band I like. I wrote all about that here, which is a place I write every Sunday, if you didn't already know, so dig it.

09 March 2006


I realize that I have touched on the topic of underpants more than once recently, but I do feel that it is such a rich topic that it bears further exploration. I had another panties-related epiphany today.

About ten years ago I had a girlfriend (yes, that kind of girlfriend) who insisted on wearing underpants that matched the rest of her outfit. I considered this to be one of her reasonably lovable quirks (I was young and tolerant), although it could be more than a little annoying when this quirk caused her to take two hours to get dressed and ready to go.

White t-shirt, pink cardigan, and jeans? This could call for white, pink, or blue undies. Of course she was happiest if she could find a pair of stripeys that incorporated all these colors. Then her little heart would sing for gladness.

Now mind you, this was not some girly clothes horse we are talking about here. She did most of her shopping at the Salvation Army ("Sal's Boutique" as she called it), and was prone to wearing seriously farmhand-inspired ensembles. You know, lots of Carhartt. But oh my god, if Carhartt had made underpants...

Today I have realized that she might well have been onto something. Although my particular brand of OCD doesn't cause me to stand naked before the mirror every morning, unable to put on a scrap of clothing until I had determined what part of the color wheel the day's astrological portents favor, I can see the charm in skin-up coordination.

I mean, if I were to somehow find myself in the middle of a game of strip poker today, losing, of course, I would at no point have to fear clashing just because of an inside straight. Now that's confidence.

07 March 2006

Mix tape

I have made a mix tape of all the many songs that have been making me so very happy the last few weeks. It has been a good couple of months for music. It is burned onto a CD, naturally, but in its heart it is a mix tape.

It is awesome.

It is ostensibly for my best friend, who has just gotten accepted to grad school, but I am willing to spread the love and to share.

Ask, and ye shall receive. Yea, even unto the faroff islands of the world. You know who you are.

03 March 2006

Pinky swear

I figured it out, I think. I figured out why I am so antsy all the time and not just every damn Friday night, which you must honestly be getting heartily sick of reading about and who can blame you, I certainly don't... and this is it, my theory is this:

It is secretly spring.

I know that we just got dumped with six inches of snow and freezing gale force winds, and that my windshield wipers iced over THREE TIMES on my way home from work yesterday so that my three-yard visibility was reduced to three inches, the three inches separating my nose from the windshield, and that every day I wish I had started this damn scarf about a month sooner so that my reportedly perfect set of breasts would be somewhat protected from the drifting snow...

But it just occured to me that I am gazing out across the lake and it is after five in the evening and I can gaze out across the lake. It is still light out! Or... twilight! Or not quite pitch nightness!

What I am getting at is that it is staying light later and this means it is spring, or will be someday, and I can be excused for being a little excitable and fizzy and maybe the slightest bit randy.

My best friend claims that I can just blame it on being in my early thirties, which is apparently some sort of documented sexual prime for women, but you wouldn't know it around here, so far here it is only some sort of peak of longing for action. Of any kind -- a good ball game, say. I MEAN BASEBALL. God. Dirty mind.

Speaking of ball games, how much does Syracuse suck at men's basketball this year? Why, an awful heck of a heaping lot! Getting smashed by DeVry or whoever they played last night was not in the Best Practices Plan for getting into the NCAA Tournament.

Unless you count the NIT tournament, which I don't, because it clearly stands for the Not In Tournament. Tournament. Yeah. Acronyms are stupid.

So I'm happy that it is baseball season somewhere at least, because that means it will be for real baseball season soon, which supports my theory that it is secretly spring.

It is such a secret that we cannot talk about it any more, so please don't bring it up. But as a sign and a symbol to each other that we secretly know that it is secretly spring I have decided that we should all wear stripey underpants.

No backtalk!

If you don't have any stripey underpants then first of all shame on you, and second of all they have some nice ones at Victoria's Secret right now. They probably have some stripey ones in the dollar bin at Marshalls right now, too, but I honestly don't know how you can wear those without thinking these panties cost a buck all day.

...and you really have to be careful what you have going through your head all day, because sometimes you might inadvertently blurt it out. Not that I have ever done that. Although I have come close a couple of times.

Your stripey underpants will serve as a reminder to yourself and to me that it is secretly spring, and that soon it will be time to watch baseball and listen to Michael Kay, voice of the Yankees, and my secret boyfriend.

How will I know that you are wearing your stripey underpants? I will not tell you that. For that is a secret also.

02 March 2006

Ounce of prevention

I am trying to innoculate myself against another case of the Friday Night Crazies by going out tonight. There is this thing that involves galleries and restaurants and discounts and friends, so I am going to that tonight right after work.

Of course it is supposed to snow tonight, which might be a drag, but on the other hand it might be fun. We haven't had too much snow this year, as you are no doubt aware. This makes me very cynical in the face of Snow Attacks! headlines on the National Weather Service. This winter, they have serously cheapened their brand by crying wolf on the snow front a few too many times.

Now I see a 70% chance of snow as a 30% chance of a dusting. And the ground has been so not-freezing all winter that any snow we get doesn't have a chance of sticking anyway. Must suck to be a kid this winter. Or a skiier. But I guess they have machines for that now.

But wandering around a few galleries with friends approximately my age should make me feel a little less stir crazy. We'll see. Friday night is, after all, still Friday night. I betcha I will still feel like I should be doing something fun and slightly scandalous. Old habits die hard.

In any case, perhaps I will take lots of pictures tonight amid the swirling snow and art and friends. then perhaps I will post them on Friday night to ease the crazies. I am learning mad photoshop skills by leaps and bounds these days, which makes me want to make all my photographs suddenly involve people flashing the horns surreptitiously, or superimpose strange slogans on people's T-shirts.

Will Phun With Photoshop be enough to quell my antsy pants? We shall see. I'm not sure it would qualify as quite scandalous enough behavior for the wee devil on my shoulder.